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How big does an art portfolio typically need to be?

I want to make an art portfolio, but I don't know how to start. #art #artist

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MICHELLE’s Answer

Your portfolio does not need to be very large. You want to use pieces that you believe are your absolute best pieces of work.
All you need to photograph your work is natural light, a black or white backdrop (a sheet or matboard), and something to prop up your work (an easel).
Most programs all for 10-15 pieces of work, so that they can get a good idea of who you are artistically.
Check out these two books: "The Practical Handbook for the Emerging Artist" by Lazarus, and "ART/WORK _____Everything you need to know (and do) As You Pursue Your Art Career," by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melbar. They are wonderful books, which will help you get it together and rule like Artist. :-D
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Daisy
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Ellen’s Answer

Hi Daisy
An art portfolio is a collection of your artworks that show who you are as an artist. The idea was that you could take your art portfolio to job or school interviews, so it had to be portable. But you can also set up a portfolio to just store your best artwork all in one place. Now a days, digital portfolios are taking over, but it is still the same idea.

Your art portfolio will change over time, as you make more art, learn more about art, improve your art skills, and broaden your interests. Art portfolios show your best work, and they often (especially for schools) show your working process, such as your sketches, your rough drafts, any written material or images that helped you create your artwork, and your finished pieces. If you are just starting out, I would emphasize quality over quantity. As noted in a previous reply, schools often will require a certain number of artworks in a portfolio for admission to their program, while employers just want to see your best artworks and will leave it up to you how many artworks to show. (within reason!)

Even if you are not yet applying for schools or jobs yet, it is always a good idea to keep your best artwork in one place. Today portfolios can be the real artworks, or digital images. You might want to buy a portfolio at an art supply store, either a physical or an online store. There are lots of styles to choose from, and they don't have to be expensive to be large enough to protect your artwork. Then, go through your work and choose the artworks you feel the best about, that you like, and that you feel really represents your abilities and interests in art. Be sure to sign and date each artwork somewhere on it. As you make more artworks, keep adding to your portfolio. If you are a student taking art, then include the sketches and finished artworks from your assignments, as well as any artwork you do outside of school. Once in a while, it is always good to go through your portfolio weed out any old artworks that you don't feel really represents your current abilities or interests. At this point, I have several portfolios just for storage, and I find the large sized "red paper " or plastic ones work pretty well, and I also have large plastic storage boxes (the types that go under the bed) for keeping smaller artworks.

If you have a cellphone, take pictures of your artwork and, if you can, set up an album on your phone of your artworks; put them on your computer so you will have your artwork there too. Again, it is all about having images of your atwork all in one place. I have artworks on my phone and my computer, and I also have an Instagram account for my artworks only.

Enjoy! Setting up and maintaining an art portfolio will provide you with the opportunities to keep track of your artwork and, most importantly, your progress as an artist. If you haven't done so already, I would encourage you to talk to the art teacher at your school. I'm sure they will have some good suggestions as well.

I hope this helps! Best wishes.



Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Daisy
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Nathan’s Answer

Portfolios for colleges are typically dictated by the school, likely to be 10-20 images. I would suggest that you have many more images than needed to be in your portfolio and organize a selection that fits the rest of your application.

Portfolios for professional artists and studio visits typically have a larger base of work and you are showing off a series or body of work for a specific audience.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for taking the time to help. Daisy
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