• Portfolio Building: Cutting out my weakest pieces

    Years ago, I read an article by someone like me: an artist working in the field of Children's Art.  She  passed on a piece of wisdom in the form of a story.

    She said an Art Director explained to her how their publishing house evalated artists.  They chose 2 pieces from the artists portfolio to evaluate: their strongest artwork and their weakest artwork. 

    The artist immediately went through her own portfolio and curated out all of her weakest art.

    Everytime I curate my portfolio now, I put on my Art Director's Hat and edit the pieces in my portfolio with two criteria: Good Art and Story.

    Is it good art?  I evaluate the art.  Are there drawing flaws?  Do I have any tangents?  Are there strong silhouettes? Is the perspective off? Are the values correct?  Can I take a photo of it, turn it into a black and white image and still see the correct values? Can I fix it easily, or do I need to start again? I get rid of the stuff I know won't work, fix what I can and  seek out my weakest pieces and take them out. 

    My second criteria is story. Does it tell a story?  I am in the business of telling stories to children through art.  Each portfolio piece needs to tell a story. I may have done a great piece of art, but if there is no story, I don't include it in my portfolio. Vast landscapes with no characters, a single cow in the middle of a field, and a still life of a figurine or a toy are great pieces to include in an academic portfolio to get into a BFA program, but not to land a job illustrating for the children's market.  So I take them out.

    This curating helped me just a few weeks ago as I looked over the artwork hanging on my wall ready for me to color.  One piece in particular really stuck out as being bad.  I had spent the most time on that piece, but it was still bad and no amount of color would change how bad it was.

    I started looking at all the other pieces and realized that the characters in many of them were not fully developed.  They looked like cardboard cut outs.  There was no personality.  I had been in such a big hurry to produce artwork for my portfolio, I forgot to develop the characters. They are still on my wall, waiting for me to figure out who they are so I can breath life into their drawings.

    I'd love to know what you think. Look at my portfolio (www.pamelahanks.com) with your art directors hat on.  Which piece would you pick out as my strongest piece and which is my weakest?