How to Prepare for a Portfolio Review

A portfolio is a collection of your best and most recent artwork that highlights your art experience. It is a visual archive of your artistic accomplishments that demonstrates your ability and potential as an artist.

Strong portfolios typically include work that reflects thoughts and concepts, as well as demonstrates solid technical/theoretical skills. The work may be abstract or representational and may range from photography or design projects to fine art pieces or installation documentation.

Tips to help you prepare

Limit the number of images to 20.  You may include contextual information with your images including title, date, medium, dimensions, and notes.

Depending on where you are in your art career and your goal for this review, we recommend presenting a thematically cohesive body of work, but no matter what, bring your strongest work.  From a gallery owner's perspective, show your most recent work first and images that represent your current interests. 

Do not bring actual art.  Representations of the work can be actual prints in a binder or clam shell box for instance. You may also bring your own device (laptop, iPad,  but no projectors, please) for a digital presentation of your work. 

Have all your images in one location, i.e. prints in a portfolio or all images saved in one folder on your hard drive. 

Do

State your goals for the review when you sit down with the reviewer.  Are you seeking technical advice, clarity of content, editing or sequencing? Do you want an exhibition at a gallery or other institution? 

Practice discussing your work
Use this time to practice your elevator pitch and talk about your work and what it means to you. Select a few pieces to discuss when and why you created the work, what the work is about, and what media were used.  Remember why you are there: let the reviewer respond to your work. 

Feel free to ask questions of the reviewer. For instance:  
What do you like about the pieces, what can be improved, and which is your favorite?

Keep notes. By the end of a long day, all the reviews can start to blend together. Make a separate page for each reviewer and mark down which images they pointed out liking, where they paused a bit longer, what questions they had about your work and specific feedback they gave you. You may also want to record audio of each meeting, if the reviewer is cool with that. 

Don't

Don't make excuses. Popular examples include: "I didn't bring my strongest work." "I didn't have time to put together much, but this should give you an idea." or "I just found out about this event." 

Don't waste your time. Be organized. Have your computer files organized before you sit down with the reviewer. Searching for your files wastes time.

Don't count on internet access.  Be prepared in case you can't get online. 

CoCA serves the Pacific Northwest as a catalyst and forum for the advancement, development, and understanding of Contemporary Art

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