Portfolio Development for Artists
Susan Myers I NYFA
Be sure to proofread your entire portfolio carefully. Have a friend or colleague read over your written materials and provide suggestions. Be sure to label all the contents of your portfolio.
If you are mailing out your portfolio, send it in a suitable container that will protect your materials in transit. If you expect your portfolio returned to you, include a self-addressed stamped envelope. If you state in your cover or query letter that you will follow-up the distribution of your portfolio with an in-person visit, telephone, or email, make certain that you do so.
Also, update the materials in your portfolio regularly. There will come a time when you will need to edit out old or irrelevant information. Your portfolio should evolve along with your development as an artist.
Many artists today are supplementing their physical portfolio with a digital version either on the Web or presented on CD-ROM or DVD. Consult with other artists in your field concerning new conventions and ways to represent yourself. Keep an eye out for portfolios you feel are successful or include interesting components and materials. I find it helpful to keep a collection of these items for my own reference. Also, make note of what you don’t like.
With more and more artists graduating from undergraduate and graduate programs each year, artists must take responsibility for their own career development by preparing a professional portfolio that stands out among those of their peers.
Susan Myers is a visual artist and metalsmith. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, including at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY; Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY; Craft Alliance, in St. Louis, MO; and The Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, PA, among others. Myers has taught 3D foundations and metalsmithing at Syracuse University and metalsmithing at the State University of New York at Oswego. Myers received her M.F.A. from Syracuse University.
She is actively involved in the Society of North American Goldsmiths, a national arts organization, co-coordinating emerging-artist portfolio reviews for its annual conference. She has written several reviews of art and contemporary craft for Metalsmith magazine. Currently, she develops programs and information services for artists as the program director at Artist Trust, a Washington State not-for-profit organization whose sole mission is to support and encourage individual artists working in all disciplines.