One of the question that comes very often on forums is what to put in a portfolio, how to build a portfolio, how to present it. I already posted some web building tips and a link on what NOT to do when building a portfolio web site, now I’m going to talk about the content.
First, you have to know your market. Who’s going to be looking at your portfolio? If you are aiming at a staff artist job, chances are the art director or lead artist will be looking at your portfolio. If you are aiming to do freelance logos and menus for restaurants, chances are restaurant owners are going to look at your portfolio. Why does that make a difference? Well, I would expect art directors to have a sharper eye for details, you would be better off putting much less art in your portfolio and putting just the cream of the crop. Customers off the street however want to see that you have a lot of range and experience but won’t be as picky on the details on each one.
I had my portfolio critiqued by the nice folks over at Gamedev.net who basically are my target audience. I received lots of useful advice but what I didn’t expect, is to be told that I needed MUCH more content. So I’m working on it continually. Every time one of my projects go public, I add it to my site. Now, I’m looking for freelance work from independent game developers, I wouldn’t do that if I was looking for employment or work from art directors.
If I was looking for work from art directors, I might add studies or life drawings to my portfolio. Now I’m not going to do that unless they have a high level of polish. All because one interviewee at my old job was once told by the HR person who was in charge of hiring artists (you’d think she would know something about art) that her life drawings were “not finished.” The person doing the portfolio reviews actually didn’t know what a life drawing was and was all disgruntled to see “unfinished” work. I’ll give most game developers more credit than that, but I’m not taking any chance that life drawings pass for unfinished sub par work.