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Putting your Best Portfolio Forward

Some Tips for Putting Together a Professional Children's Illustration Portfolio
Compiled by Ken Min, Co-coordinator of the San Fernando Valley Illustrator's Schmooze

1.   Your artwork does the talking for you. It's best and professional to keep the portfolio simple, neat, orderly and of a manageable size (9" x 12" or 11" x 14" are two great sizes.)

2.    Include 10 - 15 of your strongest pieces of art.

3.    Your portfolio can have more than one image on a page.

4.    Be sure to include a leave-behind (such as a sample page or postcard that has all of your contact information) for the art director AND editor.

5.    Showcase full color and black-and-white line/ halftone if you wish, but it's best to separate them within the portfolio.

6.    Within the illustrations that you are presenting, you should demonstrate some or all of the following:
  • Terrific visualized ideas
  • Emotions - Show the character in different moods. (i.e. laughing, hurting, etc.)
  • Consistency of Character - As far as look and clothing, etc. Show your character from a variety of viewpoints.
  • Action - Have your character do different activities and display them in different narrative settings.
  • Storyline with Character - Develop a picture sequence in which you tell a visual story.
  • Include type whenever possible as an example of your ability to interpret text and to design your images with type in mind.
7.   Keep different styles separate (don't intermix styles but they can be in the same portfolio)
      NOTE: you have to be GOOD at different styles, otherwise leave them out.

Some portfolio advice from Caldecott Award-winning illustrator Eric Rohmann:
"Put only your strongest work in the portfolio. If you want to illustrate books, then your samples should demonstrate your abilities to that end. Demonstrate your understanding of how narrative works in a picture book. Other things are obvious, but bear repeating - know your craft, have an interest and some knowledge of picture books, care about your audience."

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