Thursday, June 5, 2014

Portfolio Reviews: round 1

Hey everyone, just a quick update - I've been off the grid for the past couple of weeks while I had a couple of (informal) portfolio reviews with two former CDA teachers (which went well!). Also wedding planning. Every once in a while I remember "Oh right I'm engaged" and spend a couple of days glued to Pinterest. (Which I actually think is pretty unhealthy but that's a story for another blog. The best thing I've read on the subject is this post: "My Fantasy Football Wedding". If you happen to be planning a wedding I do recommend the A Practical Wedding blog as a go-to for your daily dose of sanity in an otherwise insanity-dominated endeavor).

My takeaways from the portfolio reviews:
  • Give yourself enough time to research and get solid prints. My prints came out kind of shitty because I was rushing to get it done.
  • Both teachers said put your best piece first, 2nd best piece last and 3rd best piece in the middle.
  • Both teachers emphasized having a sense of flow throughout the portfolio.
  • For a design portfolio, one recommended putting ideations and sketches on one page and the finished product on the opposite page, to show that you can take an idea to a finish.
  • Do NOT be a sucker like me and get one of those pre-bound art portfolios with pages for loose-leaf prints like this. They're nice, but the shiny-ness of the plastic page covers make your prints hard to see, and since they're pre-bound you're going to end up with a bunch of empty pages, which looks bad. Both teachers commented on this. They recommended printing up little books through Blurb or Lulu, OR just using an iPad. They both said iPads have become the portfolio device of choice.
But my biggest takeaway was,
  • Everyone is going to have a different opinion of what your portfolio should be. Both teachers recommended wildly different approaches for me to take. 
  • One of them said it's basically impossible to become an environment painter or character designer, so build a portfolio out of only props and vehicles, don't even include characters, and only use 2 or 3 pages of observational sketches and studies in the back. Completely focused.
  • The other one said to take a more holistic approach and design an entire world (or two), with characters, environments and props, to show your storytelling ability. But he also recommended keeping the sketches and studies to a minimum and letting design be the majority of the portfolio.

That's all I can think of for now, feel free to ask any questions you would like!

Also here's a painting I finished since last time I posted! It's from a sketch that I drew about a year ago.

© Gina Florio 2014

1 comment:

  1. I agree on the design from "start to finish". If you can, Will Weston or Sam Michlap or Bill Perkins are EXCELLENT for portfolio reviews; they basically have gotten ppl hired by their portfolio recommendations (and there was one guy who got a Disney interview the same semester I was in class with him because of Will's recs and was nervous as heck because it was so unexpected. He also got another friend of mine into Pixar's internship programme; she later worked for Disney).
    Projects are a great idea; a lot of the great portfolios are a series of actual projects with stories, so they have a mixture of sketch to finish. Some will take a story, flesh out the characters, a climatic scene, layout, expression page, and some will show sketch to silhouette/design derivations and then finished/polished one.
    You never want your portfolio to look like a series of random homework assignments.
    Also, a few studies from films (black and white for compositional studies) are great as an environment/layout designer, and of course life drawings (usu. towards the back of your portfolio to show you can draw). We had to make our own portfolios out of glue and pick actual material to make them out of in high school (for Cambridge exams to send to the UK, which was fun; they were about four feet x three feet long and shipped over). Making your own is not that difficult, and that way it's customizable (and memorable). It says something about you as an artist, too (artists make things, find solutions, design, tell stories....look at Gurney; he's making his own animations and telling stories right now). Or, there are several places in LA that will custom make them, so you can present a custom portfolio; J. Scheier told our class that's part of how he was able to get hired at a gaming studio he wanted to get into; he specifically made the portfolio for THEM (as in, it said as much on the front of the actual portfolio, which impressed them a lot). You're basically selling yourself/ personality/ who you are and showing the POTENTIAL of what you can achieve (they can teach you technique, company culture, etc). Just my opinion.