Setting out your stall is often required to pull in potential clients, customers or simply to
share your work with a wider audience. Before you do this, it’s important to know what you’re
selling, which is why a clear understanding of your practice and your potential unique selling
point (USP) is useful. There are number of strategies creative practitioners employ, including
developing physical or digital portfolios, creating marketing material and sharing work online
through social networks. Frequently, illustrators and designers will do all of these things in
order to have a presence online and in the world. The amount of time and energy you want to
devote to this will largely depend on your motivations.
A portfolio is a common way for visual communicators to show their work to others. Portfolios
can take many forms, depending on your practice and your audience. Portfolios are there
to present your best work and give an overall sense of what you do. A portfolio isn’t a fixed
outcome, rather it’s a means to an end which can be adapted and changed depending on
circumstances and will naturally evolve with the development of your practice.
A good portfolio should be:
• A selection of your best work – you don’t need to include everything. Pick the best and
most varied selection. Start and finish with your strongest work.
• A representative sample of the kind of work you like doing – there’s no point including work
you’re not interesting in developing if you’re showing a portfolio to a client.
• A tool to allow you to talk about your work, the contexts you work within (briefs, etc.), your
creative process and ambitions – construct the order to help facilitate this narrative. If you’re
producing a digital portfolio, then you may need to include some of this narrative and the
context of the work
• Easy to transport – large portfolios are hard work and rarely fit on someone’s desk. A3 or A4
sizes are easier, but balance the size of the portfolio against the scale of your work. If your
work is big, think about how you can document this scale in how you photograph your
work. Digital portfolios need to be transported via emails, so be mindful of the overall size
of your document. Reduce individual JPG sizes to help with this.
• A platform to show your work, not the portfolio itself. Avoid over-mounting your work.
If you want people to handle the work opt for a loose-leaf portfolio rather than one with
Self-promotion is supported by physical marketing material and portfolios but is really a prompt for you to discuss who you are and what you can offer. To do this successfully, you need a clear and simple narrative about who you are as a creative visual communicator and a good sense of what you might want out of any contact with potential clients or other contexts you’re interested in.
Having already developed a personal statement you will be used to reflecting and talking about the kinds of work you make and how you see your practice. Think about how you can distil this further by producing key information that you can use to discuss you and your work. Identify around five aspects of what you do, and keep it simple, because you might want to draw on these statements in conversation.