There’s no perfect recipe for a great portfolio, but there do appear to be key characteristics that make great portfolios stand out: they have at least a large handful of artworks, a friendly biography with background information, and demonstrate a consistent style or aesthetic.
That last one, consistency is key, and hopefully these ideas will inspire you to do some spring cleaning on your portfolio to showcase your work in new and inspiring ways. Using Collections, having a cool avatar photo, and linking to other social media platforms (like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, others) will add extra oomph to your already sizzling display.
Managing your portfolio is key to getting eyeballs on your work, and making future sales. After years of watching some amazing Redbubble portfolios develop and evolve, I’ve compiled a few techniques you can try to keep your portfolio consistent, fresh, and up to date with all of your latest work and products.
1. When you’ve drastically up-skilled
This is the most exciting time to overhaul your portfolio and clean out collections. When you reach a new skill-level or innovate your designs in new ways, it’s time to bump out weaker, older works. You will usually be able to tell when you’ve up-skilled (because you’re awesome), but in case you can’t tell, ask friends and artists for advice on what they see as your strongest work, and remember to ask them why so you can identify it for yourself later. When you hit a new exciting stride artistically and you simply get better, it’s time to up-do your portfolio.
Practical things to do: Ask a peer you respect for a feedback session and advice on your weakest work and consider ditching it. Alternatively watch your Redbubble views, sales, and favorites and see what is most popular, and what is not as popular. Take time to reflect on areas in which you’ve improved (shading, drawing, perspective planes, etc) and hide work that doesn’t do your new skills justice.
2. When your work is several years old
Often I view Redbubble portfolios and can see one or two artworks that are a few years old, and significantly weaker than shiny new works. Take the time to really scrutinize anything from 2+ years ago and ask yourself if it is as good as recently uploaded work. If the old work was a catalyst for your distinctive style or way of working, then it can be a good idea to keep it. But if the older work doesn’t fit with the rest of your portfolio, looks aesthetically different, or is underdeveloped and a rough draft, it’s time to hide it away.
Practical things to do: Acknowledge that you’ve been working hard for years, and that we are all improving all the time. Make a judgement decision to put away old sketchy work and congratulate yourself that you’ve come so far. Power on!
3. When your aesthetic style has changed
Has your palette changed? Has your form, line, and brushstroke inverted? If you look at your portfolio and think that it seems like it could be from two different artists, it’s time to tighten how your style is represented.
When you change direction with your aesthetic choices, make sure you categorize these distinctions into collections too. We often use collections to differentiate between mediums, but acknowledging that you have different styles can be a good way to break up your bodies of work or clean-out outdated or naive works that no longer fit with your oeuvre.
Practical things to do: When you feel or notice your style change, break up these changes into different Collections. Take stock of what mediums you use by listing them, and become aware of mediums you keep coming back to (vector designs, fine liners, pastels). Set aside a half-day to take inventory on your aesthetic choices and try to be self-aware about what colors, shapes, and designs you’re most attracted to and use often. Observe what you like in your artwork and why.
4. When you explore new subjects
An easy rule to follow is that if you change both your medium and your subject at the same time, you should do some subtle shuffling of your portfolio. If you have gone from sketching and painting to vector design, it’s a good idea to make a new collection or even consider a portfolio overhaul.
Cohesive bodies of work, and a consistent subject make for a sleek looking portfolio, so keep your medium consistent and complimentary to what you make art about.
Practical things to do: Practice describing (out loud) your artistic work in one or two sentences to a mirror or friend. If you can sum up your work while talking confidently, it will help you sum up your work in a portfolio.
5. When you feel that it’s time
Nobody knows your artistic trajectory, or you, better than yourself. Update your portfolio when you feel it’s time for a change, and trust your instincts. It’s different for everyone, and could happen every few months, twice a year, or every 2 or 3 years depending on how active you are creatively. Just like new phases of creativity come in ebbs and flows, let your portfolio guide you in the same way.
Practical things to do: Do what you love often, and think about it even more. If you’re truly creating and making what you love, you’ll be better positioned to make value and judgement calls on how you show the world your artwork, which is an exciting prospect.
Need a hand?
We have a range of support to help you update your portfolio, and you can start here:
– Update and modify Collections here.
– Switch up your products with our Case Guide.
– Get a refresher on the basics with our articles on Adding Work to Redbubble.
– Try Editing, Deleting or Hiding Works from your portfolio.