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CONQUERING THE CREATIVE MARKETPLACE: What You Need To Know When Preparing A Portfolio

Posted by learntobead on January 19, 2023

Your Portfolio

Your Portfolio will most likely be the first impression a gallery, store, or collection gets of your work. You want to make it a positive and lasting one.

As with the Artist Statement, you do not want to follow anyone’s template when designing your Portfolio. This won’t serve you well. In reality, too many Portfolios look the same.

You will most likely want several versions, say 3 or 4, of your Portfolio in anticipate of different audiences and different ways you might use this. Specifically, you might want versions differentiated by one or more of these characteristics:

· Document without dates for jewelry pieces

· Document with dates for jewelry pieces

· Organized by theme

· Organized by audience

· Only those pieces representative of the brand you are trying to sell to a particular venue

· All your pieces

· Digital, including an online copy, an online copy with some graphical animations, an ebook, or a video online

NOTE: Your digital versions should be responsive. That means they are created in such a way that no matter what browser or what device (computer, tablet, phone, TV) they are viewed on, they will look good.

NOTE: I suggest sharing your digital copy with a URL link to where it would be posted online, say on your website. I suggest not sending a digital copy on a CD, disc or flash drive. I think the potential viewer might get annoyed having to set up their computer to ready it to read the digital copy off these formats.

· Print, including something you print yourself off an office printer, or something available from a bookseller as a print-on-demand.

· Presentation folder: basically a binder with plastic sheet holders, into which you can place sheets of printed images of your work and related text.

· PowerPoint slide show. Can easily be shared on a Tablet or Computer or Notebook Computer.

· With or without prices

Your Portfolio will include images, short text descriptions of each piece, its materials, techniques, and inspirations. You might include your Artist Statement, Testimonials, resume, copy of a significant press article about you. Of course, you would have all you contact information present.

Look Book is a more focused portfolio. It includes a limited number of your best pieces and pieces representative of your brand. The images are the stars. There is limited text, most often in the form of captioning or a short relevant quote. The Look Book should feel cohesive and feel like it targets a very specific audience.

Look Book by Laura McCabe, cover
Look Book by Laura McCabe, inside pages

In Print: These days it is easy and very inexpensive to develop a print-on-demand book for your Portfolio. You have many size options. It can be printed in high quality color. You can have a hard cover and/or a soft cover. You can go with a high quality paper if you want. A printed Portfolio is something that you can give away or sell. This format ups your legitimacy and credibility significantly. You only have to print one copy at a time. It is not difficult to keep the book updated.

Check out kdp.Amazon.com and Ingram Publishing for information about print-on-demand book publishing.

The print version would include,

· Front cover art, back cover art, and side binding art

· Back cover text

· Bar code

· ISBN number

· Library of Congress number

· Your content with images

Designing Your Portfolio

STEP 1: Decide who this is for.

Research and delineate who their audiences are and to which they have to be responsive. For example, a gallery and its collector patrons. Or a store and its core customer base.

Given who it is for, what format and content would they prefer? How do you want them to respond after they view your Portfolio; what action (of course in your interest) do you want them to take?

STEP 2: Select your content.

Ask yourself:

· How consistent and coherent is my content? Have I described each project from inspiration to aspiration to designed outcome to production and distribution? If it is important to present yourself as a brand, how well does your selected content support your brand image?

· Does my content clearly show and demonstrate how I think and problem solve when designing jewelry? Have I identified the design challenges for each project, and how I solved them? Some design challenges might be time constraints, selecting materials, selecting techniques, availability of technologies and tools, consistency with fashion and style expectations.

· Does my text support my images, and vice versa?

· You do not want to settle for a laundry list of projects. You want a set of projects and their related content with which you can create a story.

STEP 3: Organize your content.

Does your organization reaffirm your communication and presentation skills? Have you made clear your style, process and design philosophy? Do the substance, look and feel support an image of you as a professional jewelry designer? Does your organization tell a story, with a beginning, middle, and end, and some takeaways or learnings? Does it have a good narrative flow?

You might organize by theme or color or technique or silhouette. You might organize by price point. You might organize by the context in or types of outfits with which the jewelry might be worn.

NOTE: Cognitively, it is much easier for the reader to digest 3 or 4 pieces of information at a time. So, you might group projects into collections of 3 or 4 pieces. For each piece, you might present 3 or 4 critical pieces of information. And so forth.

STEP 4: Design the cover.

This can be all image, all text, or a mix of image and text. How well does the cover coordinate with your jewelry and brand image?

STEP 5Evaluation.

Does anything seem too vague or incomplete? Are the words you use strong, active, sufficiently descriptive and powerful? Does the narrative flow make sense, or can it be improved?

Ask yourself and some of your designer friends whether your Portfolio, given your audience and how you want them to act in response, prove that you are the right fit.

Given your audience, what questions can you anticipate that you think they might ask you? Example, what was difficult? What might you do differently if doing the piece again? Why would someone want to buy this piece? What kinds of related designs have you considered?

Some Advice

· Layout doesn’t matter nearly as much as the content and how you present your work

· Include some photos which demonstrate the scale of your work and the wearability of your work

· For a gallery, retail venue, or agency, show the retail prices you believe your work should sell for. Don’t include dates. A buyer might wonder, given an earlier date, why the piece hadn’t sold.
For other audiences, you can decide whether or not to include either prices and/or dates. You might want to show your evolution and history as a jewelry designer.

· Keep images separated from text. Don’t interrupt a series of images about a particular piece with text. The viewer will have a visual journey that is a very different experience than a reading journey.

· Keep only 1–2 images per page.

· Make it easy for the viewer to know what you are showing them: detail name of piece, materials, size, technique, price.

· You might include several SOLD pieces, clearly marked as sold.

· Back up all your digital files!

· Unless asked to, I would suggest not sending images on 35mm slides.

· A vertical (portrait), rather than a horizontal (landscape), format will work best. If one of your pieces looks best presented horizontally, take that horizontal image and embed it on a vertical formatted page.

· Include a TITLE PAGE after your COVER. Acts as a visual transition to the images of your pieces. The Title Page should have the artist’s name and some kind of tag line or catchy informative heading.

· 8 ½ x 11” is always a good size, but you do not have to limit yourself to these dimensions.

· A white background will work well, but you do not have to limit yourself to white. Be sure your font colors will easily be seen when printed on a color other than white.

· Where using text, always have a HEADING LINE, which usually is a larger font, than the text you use in paragraphs.

· Start each piece on its own page. Usually, consistency in page/text/image formats from piece to piece will be more pleasing to the reader.

· Ideally, showing 20–30 pieces is a good goal. Depending on how you intend to use the Portfolio and who your audience is, you might present more pieces, but not less than 20.

· Create a BACK PAGE or BACK COVER. This might include a photo of yourself, some biographical information, and contact information.


Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft Video Tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

Follow my articles on Medium.com.

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Check out my Jewelry Making and Beadwork Kits.

Add your name to my email list.


Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Saying Good-Bye! To Your Jewelry: A Rite Of Passage

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking


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This guidebook is a must-have for anyone serious about making money selling jewelry. I share with you the kinds of things it takes to start your own jewelry business, run it, anticipate risks and rewards, and lead it to a level of success you feel is right for you, including
Getting Started, Financial Management, Product Development, Marketing, Selling, Resiliency, Professional Responsibilities.



Merging Your Voice With Form

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588pp, many images and diagrams Ebook , Kindle or Print formats

The Jewelry Journey Podcast
“Building Jewelry That Works: Why Jewelry Design Is Like Architecture”
Podcast, Part 1
Podcast, Part 2

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184pp, many images and diagrams EbookKindle or Print


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In this book, I discuss 16 lessons I learned, Including How To (1) Find, Evaluate and Select Craft Shows Right for You, (2) Determine a Set of Realistic Goals, (3) Compute a Simple Break-Even Analysis, (4) Develop Your Applications and Apply in the Smartest Ways, (5) Understand How Much Inventory to Bring, (6) Set Up and Present Both Yourself and Your Wares, (7) Best Promote and Operate Your Craft Show Business before, during and after the show.

198pp, many images and diagrams, Ebook, , Kindle or Print



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