Refine Your Portfolio

You Did It!

Congratulations! You’ve worked all semester thinking through your career goals and assembling a portfolio to help accomplish them. Go you!

Finish & Polish

This week do another pass on your portfolio website and fine-tune things. You’ve already done 85% of the work, but that last 15% of finish work can make a world of difference.

Finish Work

  • When you pull a casting out of a mold, your work is mostly done. But that finish work of buffing out the seams and polishing or glazing can take your piece to another level.
  • When a fine tailor does the first fitting for your new suit, the suit is pretty much done. But every nip & tuck take it from a more-or-less fitting lumpy suit to a perfectly tailored vision.
  • Your Portfolio Website is similar. Sure it shows your stuff now. It’s mostly done. But polishing it that last 15% can make a world of difference.

Things to Refine

  1. Focus – have you created a portfolio that’s clearly & completely in line with your specific career goals? Or a generic portfolio of “all the different stuff I tried in art school”? Clarity, clarity, clarity! The more clear your vision is, the more easily people can connect with you.
  2. Spelling & Names – check your spelling. If you mention other people, make sure you’ve got their names right.
  3. Grammar & Tone – this isn’t an academic paper. You don’t need to use formal or even perfect English. I tend to prefer familiar, vernacular writing. But be sure your words are clear and coherent. Make powerful, assertive, descriptive word choices. Have the courage to skip the modifying words.
  4. Great Images – Are your images strong? This is a good week to rephotograph physical works or redesign digital works to best show your strengths. Are there detail views? Can I zoom in? Can I see your work from different angles?
  5. Menu Navigation – Take another look at your menu. Is it an informative outline of your work? Is it clear and direct? Is it generic and uninformative? Make sure your visitors can find what they’re interested in easily and quickly.
  6. Your Template – If you’re using a template from a platform like Squarespace or Wix, is it presenting your work well? Don’t be afraid to browse through the template gallery and see if there’s one that works better for you.
  7. Typography – Are your font choices consistent with your aesthetics? Even if you’re using the fonts that came with a template, it’s usually easy to substitute other fonts. Is your typography big enough to read? Does it have enough contrast to read?
  8. Color Choices – Do your background color and accent colors add to or detract from your work? Do your choices highlight your work? Or do they take focus for themselves?

Big Finish

I realize it’s the end of the semester and you have things due in other classes. It would be really easy to say

My portfolio is close enough. I’ll just blow this finish stuff off for now. Maybe I’ll do it someday in the future.

I encourage you to put off getting lazy for one more week. The last 15% can really take your portfolio to another level.

Your graduation from the LBSU SOA is an enormous accomplishment. I’m proud of you! I hope you have a big, epic celebration! You’ve achieved something huge!

Even though you’ve nailed the end of this chapter of life, when you turn the page, a new chapter begins. After the well-deserved parties and celebrations, the first page of the next chapter finds you looking for work, gallery shows, etc, that many other artists with similar levels of experience to you are all now competing for.

It’s worth putting in a few more hours and making the most powerful presentation of yourself and your work that you possibly can.

LMK if there’s any way I can help!


When you’re done polishing, post your URL on Canvas! 🙂

image: European Custom

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