How to create an Artist’s Portfolio

Today I had a display at Gilbert White’s House and Gardens in Hampshire. My portfolio was a great feature, people spent ages flicking through and seeing the extent of my skills. It also sparked several interesting conversations and leads.

In short, a portfolio is the perfect way to show off your skills in an effective and physical way, without relying on computers or the internet to access your gallery.

They can be created simply without too much expense or materials, and yet still look professional!

You will need

  • Large (9×7) photographs of your completed works
  • Small (6×4) photographs of your muse images
  • Printed out titles
  • Printed out testimonials from happy customers
  • A large, plain black self-adhesive photo album
  • Guillotine / ruler & scissors

Step 1: Get your photographs printed. I got mine done at Boots pharmacy, and the good thing is that you can edit the photos on the screen to make them fit to the size of the photograph so that no vital parts are cropped out.

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Step 2: Cut off any white edges using a guillotine for sharp lines. I borrowed one at work in my lunch hour.

Step 3: Set out your photos on the page, without peeling back the self-adhesive layer yet. Give the photographs a slight overlap if necessary.

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Step 4: Work out what remaining space you have on your page to fill with the project title and testimonials. Then chose an appropriate font, text size and layout to fit the surrounding space. Keep the font and size regular for all titles, and all other text, but vary the layout as the space allows.

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Step 5: Cut up the testimonials and titles, again using a guillotine if you can.

Step 6: Choose which order you would like to present the portfolio in. I chose chronological (it seemed logical.)

Step 7: Peel pack the plastic layer to expose the adhesive, leaving it still stuck at the far edge so it can be reapplied easily. Carefully press down your photographs and text in your practiced layout, and then swipe the plastic layer back into place using your forearm to get even pressure.

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Step 8: Wash, rinse, repeat (just without the washing and rinsing.)

A word of caution – although the pages are thick, take extra care that you do not accidently skip a page, because every time you peel back the plastic layer to rearrange pages, the adhesive loses a bit of its stick, and it is a little soul wrenching to have to do it AGAIN.

Ta da, a beautiful coffee table portfolio to show people.
Just take care that no-one walks away with it!

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So you want them to actually READ your CV?

I, Imi Woods, Animal Artist, have given myself a metaphorical kick up the backside and decided to start contacting galleries, shops and (gulp) agents.

I looked up “How to write an Artist’s CV” on Google.
It depressed the hell out of me.

“Avoid any formatting at all if possible. No columns, tabs, multiple spaces, words all in caps, quotation marks, or bold formatting. The only formatting needed is italics for exhibition names, article titles and prize names. Stick to one typeface for the entire document. Preferably something simple like Arial or Times Roman. Leave creativity for the art. The CV needs clarity.”

As a self-trained, as yet barely exhibited young Artist… I don’t yet have the facts to speak for me. I have passion, raw talent, beautiful paintings and lots of happy customers… but not the lists of Relevant Education, Exhibitions at the Tate or MoMA, Associations, Publications and Awards that they are really looking for. Sorry, I forgot, I do have the Year 9 Art Prize and I write a blog. I’ll be sure to put that on my CV…

I know that I am going places… I just need a leg up to get on the ladder.

So here are my tips for creating a memorable and interesting CV. The sort of CV that will help the Emerging Artist who doesn’t yet have all the facts to talk for them. It might just get you to the top of the pile… or at least keep you away from the bottom.
Feel free to use ideas from my CV below if you would like.
Please note, this is applicable to other industries too!

print screen of CV

1. Design an interesting layout. Note: a few columns and bullets does not mean interesting. Challenge yourself! Using a table format in Microsoft Word is easy and keeps all of your information in the right place. Keep it clean and functional… but with a bit of pizazz. I put a column going down the left hand side with my name and job title, separated by a block line.

2. Use a bit of colour. I know, not everyone is like me and excited by colours. But one colour as a strong theme running through the CV will draw the eye directly to your CV for the right reasons.

3. Be creative with photographs. This is what is the biggest selling point of my CV. I cut the background out of a photograph of me next to my Artist’s Statement and put it into greyscale. I virtually framed a couple of my paintings too. They are my biggest selling point at the moment, so I see no reason for them not to be put onto my CV. I also cut out the background of a photograph of me painting. I kept the painting in full colour, and greyscaled myself. I guess it says “my art speaks for me”.

4. Do your research about where you are applying to. Angle your CV to bring out qualities that are important to that institution. But don’t fabricate information, tell the facts as they are.

5. Keep your CV focussed. Don’t be a Jack of all trades but a Master of none. I cut out the paragraph detailing my current work on this CV. I feel I have learned a lot in my role as a Submissions Assistant, but can see how galleries would fail to see the relevance.

6. Oh my gosh, proof read your CV! Or get someone else to. Learn how to use that apostrophe correctly. Learn the difference between you’re and your. It’s not that difficult!

7. Show your enthusiasm. I know. Risky.
But right now, my enthusiasm is what is getting me places. People like enthusiastic, friendly people and want to work with them and give them opportunities. On applying for a display space recently in Reading, I was incredibly enthusiastic. Embarassingly so. I was excitable and probably showed my naivety, but received the following as a reply:

“You sound a really enthusiastic and friendly person, just what we need!! Look forward to meeting you soon, oh, and don’t change a thing, you’re fine as you are!”

Wouldn’t you rather buy artwork from someone who loves what they do than someone who is just doing it to pay the bills? I know I would.

*Disclaimer: I don’t know if this will work. Please don’t blame me if you follow my tips and your CV does get put to the bottom of the pile. Maybe galleries and agents are not kindred spirits. Maybe they really do want lists and no formatting. It’s surely worth a shot though, right?

Like squats… only for your face.

On Monday, I had my first stall EVER at Rowledge Village Fayre.

But what did I learn from this experience?

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1. Don’t underestimate the weather: I obsessively checked the weather for about ten days before the fayre. As I grew closer to the big day, I was checking four or five times a day. Great! No rain due! Glance over the fact that there are gale force winds. 

I arrived at the fayre two and a half hours before kick off to set up my wall-less gazebo. As soon as my stock was put onto the table, it was blown over, even my large glass-fronted framed print kept toppling over. My large orange display board? Forget it, that was threatening to fall over on my head, catapulting my original paintings everywhere.

Thank goodness for mum’s friend offering me a space in the big gazebo. Everyone shoved along and, although it was cosy, it saved the fayre for me.

2. Do some warm up facial exercises beforehand: I am generally a smiley person anyway, but no person’s face is used to smiling constantly for over four hours! Think of it like doing squats in the weeks leading up to a skiing trip… only for your face. Face squats.  My Stall!

3. Paint on the day, but don’t expect a masterpiece: I didn’t take all of my paints and paintbrushes with me. I couldn’t get close to my photograph, and I couldn’t zoom in on a screen like at home to see the detail.

BUT it looks great, and it invites people to watch you without feeling pressured to talk to you. Its a conversation starter! My friends from work said “Now we have seen proof that you actually DO paint!” It makes your artwork authentic and more personal. 

Photo: Talented artist at work

4. I am king of the kids: The tiniest little boy stared in complete rapture as I painted a meercat. I had no idea that little boys’ attention spans could be that trained on something that wasn’t going VRRROOOOM VROOOOM! After a while, he told me “that is a really good painting.” in a sincere and strangely adult way.

Another little girl kept coming back to watch me, saying “I wish I could paint like that”. I told her that at her age, I couldn’t either, and if she started practicing now – she would probably be better than me one day! Inspirational words!

5. I need to man up: Imogen! Be brave! People have spent a while watching you paint and complimenting your talents. Give them a business card, invite them to sign up to your newsletter for the chance to win a painting! Do something or you are the nameless girl at the fayre who can paint, but other than that you are forgotten.

For any blog readers, I am doing my prize draw in June. Anyone who subscribes to my newsletter is in with the chance to win a bespoke painting worth £95! If you have always wanted a painting, what have you got to lose? In my own words, man up!

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6. Don’t forget about your main market: At the fayre, I branded myself mainly as a painter of birds. I forgot my pet portrait leaflets, and I neglected the market of dog owners who were all conveniently at the fayre entering Fido into the “Waggiest Tail” contest. What a wally.

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7.  People are wonderful: Seriously. I felt overwhelmed with all the lovely comments I received. I am so thankful to everyone who came to support me, including the strangers who have no previous investment in me – who just genuinely like what I have to offer!

One lady flicking through my portfolio said “Your paintings are more lifelike than the photographs!” Wow. Day made! 

What have you learned in retrospect after a big event?

How to prepare for your first art stall

Hello everybody,

This is a little guide on what I have learned for far in preparing for my first art stall at Rowledge Village Fayre. It hasn’t happened yet, so things could still go very very wrong… But I feel like I have learned a lot, so thought I would share my learnings with you today!

1. Never underestimate how much you have to invest: Bulk buying greeting cards, giclee prints and other items is EXPENSIVE. I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much everything else costs!

You know those little mounts that you get around fine art prints, and even school photographs? They are as expensive as the print itself. And they just get thrown away. Then you add plastic wallets to put them in. EX PEN SIVE.

To keep my (and the customer’s) costs down, I got plastic wallets and just plain cardboard which I attached photo corners to to keep the print secure… considerably reducing the price of presentation of each print, but not impacting on how professional they still look.

2. People need to be shown exactly how to display your goods: Don’t leave it up to imagination, if your prints look great with a black frame and a smart mount, show people by investing in a nice frame. I am getting an A3 kingfisher framed to show people just how fantastic it looks. As proud painter and owner of the original, I hate to say it, but the framed print looks better!

3. The most simple of stalls still has many complex things holding it together. How do you create height to make an interesting display? How do you make all of your products look professional? How do you catch people’s eye in the first place? How do you hang items? Next time you visit a stall, look at all of these things. They all take lots of planning and lots of cost, especially the first time round.

I am planning on using coloured boxes to display my prints, cards and paintings at different heights on the table. I have borrowed two three-panel boards from my mum to hang my paintings off. I have drawn birds eye views of where the table, easel, boards and stock will go. Next weekend I plan on having a practice set up of everything to see how it all looks together.

4. Your painting time will seriously suffer: I am spending so much of my time thinking, writing blogs and newsletters, planning and buying for the fayre that any time spent actually painting is very limited. Someone once told me that when starting a new art business, about 50% of your time will be taken up with running the business, not actually painting. More like 80%!

5. Test the market by getting greeting cards in many many designs: A good quality place will send proofs through to you to make sure the colours are right before you buy. The proofs of mine are done and look great! I am getting between ten and twenty of each card, because who am I to say what people will like the best? I know which are my favourites, but which are yours?

6. Email addresses of interested customers are like gold dust: Create a newsletter so you can get people to subscribe to it – emails and advertising! In my opinion, my newsletter is full of interest and creativity, and I enjoy reading it… but for those that need extra incentive, I am choosing one lucky subscriber at random to win a painting on June 1st. I will tell every customer about this amazing opportunity so hopefully I will get lots of interest!

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7. The little details will make you memorable: In each print and each greeting card, I am putting one of my business cards with a handwritten note saying “thank you for your custom!” or similar. I really really appreciate ANYONE who buys from me and supports my business, no matter how small a purchase. Even just a like on facebook. I appreciate it all! So tell them.

8. Be prepared for your boyfriend to appoint himself Managing Director and Marketing Manager of your company: I actually got told to “check with me before you make any business decisions please.” He was being serious. His Dad also seems to have appointed himself ‘Marketing Executive’… I feel there may be competition!

What important lessons have you learned in the lead up to a big event?

How naïve to think that Artists have time to paint!

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Sales pitch over.

I have a secret to share…
Preparing for a fayre, holding down a full time job, eating, sleeping AND finding time to paint is nigh on impossible.
If you throw in enjoying the sunshine and doing a bit of exercise then you get to the situation I am in now. That situation does not involve a paint brush.

On the other hand, the business side of my business is flourishing.
On Saturday, I will visit Otters Pool Studio print shop to look at the proofs of three of my paintings! I will then give the nod for 40 limited edition prints in the three designs to be created!

The designs I finally chose are:
IMG_1563kingfisher ARTbyIMIwoodpecker ARTbyIMI

Thank you for your help in choosing them!

I have bought cellophane bags for the prints to go in, I have bought cardboard backing, I have bought struts to keep them rigid and undamaged.
No-one ever tells you how much these little throw-aways add up to!

Ten designs of greeting cards are also rushing their way to me by post right now!
I will then order the ones I like best to sell at the Fayre – monitoring to see which are the most popular designs.

I have created order forms and newsletter sign up forms.
I have arranged to borrow a gazebo, and a three panel display board.
I have written my first newsletter which is raring to be released to the world!

Most excitingly, I have created a to-do list, which is OH SO SATISFYING to tick off another finished item.

Rowledge Village Fayre, I am nearly ready for you……

The list is still long, but this weekend it will take the back burner!
I am going to be a hermit on a Friday evening (shock horror) and paint (SHOCK HORROR!) and watch Grand Designs and other high quality programmes which allow me to imagine my future barn conversion with art studio, swimming pool and photography studio. A girl can dream.

image from chloeulis.com.

Do you feel you have enough time to do the things you love? 

The 30 second sales patter

Sales pitch: My pilot newsletter is written and waiting for more subscribers before it gets sent out into the big bad world. Hopefully it will make the big bad world a prettier more creative world. You wont know unless you subscribe.

In the not too distant future, I will be selecting one of my subscribers at random to win a painting. At the moment, there is a very large chance it will be won by my mother.  You have been duly warned!
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Anyway, onto today’s subject. The 30 second sales patter.

It has come to my attention from my recent dog-walks-without-dog-but-with-boyfriend-instead that I needed a sales patter when presenting my flyers to a mixture of interested and uninterested dog walkers.

With the first few flyers, the patter was as follows:

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“Hello, I’m a local animal artist…
so I like paint pictures of pets
and dogs and stuff.
Is that something you’d be interested in?”

 

I got a few outright “no”s.
I wasn’t pulling that face. I like to think I was smiling sweetly.
And I wasn’t even on skype… I was right there.

That sales pitch was not the strongest. I  repeated myself three times to these poor dog walkers. Four if you count the “stuff” “I paint animals… pets… dogs…stuff!”

I then confronted them into making an immediate decision “is that something you’d be interested in?”  

“Ahhh no thankyouuuu” they were probably thinking, “I just wanna scoop some poop and get outta here.”

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Between dog walkers, I practised my talk with my apparently business savvy pitching partner. He picked out  my mistakes and didn’t get too bored with hearing the same thing over and over. Maybe because I promised to contribute a whole £1 towards a slice of cake in the tea shop. Generosity.

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“Hello I am a local animal artist.
I specialise in painting dogs and birds.
Is that something you’d be interested in?”

 

Dammit it had come out again! An involuntary confrontational language tick!
Boyfriend / Mr Sales “You shouldn’t limit what you specialise in. You can paint all animals!”
Animal artist extraordinaire: “I didn’t mean to… heyy – thanks!” 

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With the last one I had sort of perfected it.

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“Hello! I am a local artist.
I specialise in painting pets and wildlife.
You can see my entire portfolio at this link here!”

*shows link*

 

That there is my “look, I painted this bird” face.
But I don’t just specialise in painting birds. I also paint dogs.

Dammit!

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Any ideas on how to improve my sales patter?
Looks like I need further business savvy.

Fayres, newsletters and honest opinions

Hello ART by IMI followers 🙂

Some exciting things have been happening over the past week since beginning my Month of Paint. I would really appreciate some honest feedback from you all to progress my excitement further.

Month of Paint update

So far during my month of paint, I have got this far on a new penguin painting. It is a long way from ready but I am really pleased with how it is progressing. IMAG0960_1[1]

I also had to resort to doodling when away from my paints:

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I have to admit I have somewhat bent the rules in my month of paint.
I changed them to be “spending at least an hour forwarding my business / creating art”

It may be a slight cop out but I don’t care because at last I feel like I am getting somewhere with this venture.

Rowledge Village Fayre

I have booked to have a stall at the Rowledge Village Fayre on the 27th May. This makes me giddy with excitement at the thought of all those people I will get to meet and show off my skills. I am going to see it as an investment, as the amount of money and time I have to put out in preparation will probably far exceed anything I get back this time.

Creating prints

I am getting high quality giclée prints made of three of my paintings, which will be for sale at the fayre and later on my Etsy shop. I need your help choosing which of my paintings to get made into prints. Please will you head over to my gallery and leave me a comment with your thoughts?

I am also getting greeting cards made in a larger number of designs. Again I would really appreciate your help choosing the designs!
woodpecker ARTbyIMIkingfisher ARTbyIMILittle brother ARTbyIMINelson ARTbyIMIErnie ARTbyIMIgoldenpheasantjan13wmpuffin ARTbyIMI

Art society member 

I have become a member of the Farnham Art Society which is very exciting. I can now go along to their meetings, meet other local artists, and hopefully next year will be be promoted to an Exhibiting member. 

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ART by IMI newsletter

I have just created a monthly newsletter which will have information about my art, local artist events, promotions I am offering and creative input from elsewhere. You can get on the mailing list by clicking the button below!
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Facebook

I am only two likes away from getting 100 followers on Facebook. This is not a big number but it is a small milestone. If you could boost that to 100, you will make me a very happy lady.

And there we are. Lots of exciting news, and lots and lots to prepare. I would love to hear your feedback 🙂

Love, Imi

My Etsy Shop

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Hello Everyone!

You can now order and buy my art worldwide through my Etsy Shop!

You can find me at http://www.etsy.com/shop/ARTbyIMI.

I will continue to add items over the weekend, so please have a browse!

Love Imi

Business promotion and dodgy packing

My flyers arrived! On Sunday I dragged my boyfriend out on a cold walk and we headed to the woods, flyers in hand. I wimped out and avoided approaching a couple of “Man and man’s best friend on a mission” types, but managed to approach four groups of people to share my talent and direct them over here. If you have stumbled upon my website after receiving a flyer – Hello! My future is painting and I need you lovely people to share the news and get my name out there!
This weekend I also (nearly) finished my latest painting of a golden retriever. Just an eye is outstanding because I just can’t get it right!

I am now away on business (I sound so important) so the eye will have to wait. My packing practices for this trip have been bizarre to say the least. I remembered my hot water bottle… I forgot pyjamas. I remembered spinach and salad dressing… and three different types of nuts (cheeky) but I forgot a phone charger. I woke up in the middle of the night worrying so much about what I would forget for my holiday that I had to write a list to be able to go back to sleep again. “salt, chopped tomatoes, soup, phone charger, hair ties and sketch pad” made it onto my midnight panic list. The essentials (!)

Cannot wait to get home, finish my retriever and go to the Wildlife Photography Art Exhibition on Saturday. Hopefully on Sunday I can get walking and hand out more flyers! I have quite a week to get through first.

What essentials have you forgotten to pack? Is there a way to avoid putting your life on hold while you are away?