Starting a website can feel intimidating, especially when you don't know where to start. The best way to establish your professional illustration portfolio is a clear goal in mind and a plan. Here’s where you can start: what's the purpose of your website? It's likely to attract new clients or show off your creative work for job opportunities. In that case, you want to craft a plan that will get you the results you want.
Rather than sharing every artwork work you've ever done, think about curating your portfolio to showcase your best work instead. We've said it before plenty of times, but your illustration portfolio is only as strong as your weakest work, which means you want your best work to shine through. Cluttering your website with subpar projects will only bring down your overall achievements. If you're not sure what to include in your portfolio, consider the type of work you'd like to do and cater your website to appeal to those types of projects. Don't forget to ask colleagues who will give you honest and constructive feedback about your chosen pieces.
Whenever you plan a creative portfolio, we ask beginner illustrators what type of work they'd like to get into. Often, the answer is "I don't know." The best way to get around this is to try a breath of projects and see what area of illustration you enjoy working in. The truth is, the only way to find out is to produce work consistently and to try a wide range of styles and project types from comics, product illustrations, book covers, and animations.
Your life experiences, artistic influences, and project work will continue to shape your creative style, which is why you must regularly update your digital illustration portfolio to reflect your work. Stylistic trends will also change over time, so you want to show potential clients that you can maintain relevance in your work. Try to keep your portfolio pieces recent within a 2–3 year timeframe.
If a project comes your way that you're truly not excited about, learn how to pass it up gracefully. While it may feel like you need to take on all the projects that come across your desk as you start your career as an illustrator, you must learn to only take on work that aligns with your goals. Otherwise, you risk producing sub-par work for projects you're not as excited about, and it won't be helpful to building your portfolio.
Navigating your website shouldn't feel like a maze. Aside from having a visually appealing website design, it should have intuitive navigation. Please make sure that all your pages (About, Contact, and Portfolio Gallery) are in the navigation bar and that your illustrations have descriptive titles, dates, and are tagged with their corresponding categories. Difficult to navigate websites and a lack of organization can feel off-putting to potential clients and visitors.
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