Data #4: Tips on Building a Good Portfolio

What is a Portfolio?
A portfolio is a professional presentation of yourself and your works to the employer that you hope to work for. Your portfolio showcases your best works and promotes you.[1] Having a portfolio is an important aspect during the job interviewing process.

Who Should Read This?
Although I am an Arts and Technology (ATEC) student, I also want include the general audience who want information on how to build good portfolios. Even though a lot of the information is mostly art-related, some of the concepts can apply to any general portfolio.

Broadly speaking, the contents in your portfolio may vary depending on what job position you are pursuing for.

What Consists of a Portfolio?
For starters, a portfolio should include:

  • A cover letter, which can be an introductory letter that tells a bit about yourself
  • Your résumé that lists your contact information, work experiences and any other credentials that are related to the desired job position
  • Ten to twenty samples of your best works (which can be presented in different formats)[2]

But before you start building your portfolio, you need to consider a few things. Angi Sullens, creator and director of the Duirwaigh Gallery, gives some points about presenting yourself and your portfolio to the potential employer.

“The key issues when creating your portfolio:

  • Develop your craft — Believe in yourself enough to develop your skills.
  • Invest in a professional, attractive binding/presentation when you’re ready to present yourself to the world.
  • Select your best works — Show your style and your abilities proudly.
  • Keep it real — Accurate representation secures peace of mind for you and your client.
  • Keep it simple and straightforward. Ten to twenty pieces are enough to generate interest without overwhelming.
  • Consider your audience — Be conscientious of the job and skills required for it.
  • Include introduction, thank you and supporting materials if available.”[3]

For art portfolios in particular, I found an excellent YouTube video that has great advice in how students can build their art portfolios.[4]

Final Summary
As weird as it sounds, make a hobby in building your portfolios. Start making your portfolios now and polish your portfolio gradually over time. It does not matter whether it looks bad or not. Building a portfolio can be a detailed and elaborate process.[5]

The more time and effort you spend on building up your credentials, the better you will look to the employers’ eyes. Finally, do not let failures stop you from trying, but learn how you can improve in whatever area needs improvement.


  1. Dowler, C. (n.d.). How To Create An Awesome Work Portfolio. Manifest Your Potential: Find Your Authentic Self & Your Bliss. Retrieved March 5, 2011, from
  2. McNee, L. (2009, September 9). How to Create a Powerful Art Portfolio. Lori McNee Artist. Retrieved March 5, 2011, from
  3. Schulz, E. (n.d.). The Killer Portfolio – Part 1 — Art Tutorials at Epilogue. Art Tutorials at Epilogue. Retrieved March 5, 2011, from
  4. eHow. (2001, November 8). YouTube – Art Career Advice : How to Make an Art Portfolio. YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Retrieved March 5, 2011, from
  5. Doyle, A. (n.d.). Portfolio – Resume, Art, Photography and More Employment Portfolios. Job Search & Employment Guide – Job Search Advice, Jobs, Resumes, Letters, Employment. Retrieved March 5, 2011, from

1 Comment »

  1. Deborah said

    Hello again Susan,
    I wanted to elaborate a bit more on your informative blog. I’m not an ATEC major, but the information you present on Portfolios is applicable to students of all majors. I’m an older student and have been in the workforce before, but I did share your blog information with my daughter. She just graduated, and she’s still building/tweaking her portfolio (Fine Arts). She appreciated the timely instuctions. Thanks.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: