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How to Create a Professional Bound Portfolio of Your Work

by Bonnie Christine
craft & maker

portfolio handmade

Presenting a finished body of work in a way that you’re proud of is an essential step in pushing your career forward as a creative. Whether you’re an artist, a photographer, illustrator, painter, writer or surface pattern designer (like me!) – making a handmade portfolio that is a true reflection of yourself and your work will help advance your career as a creative.

When it comes to a portfolio – going the extra mile really will pay off! In my course, Design, Print and Build your Portfolio, I cover in detail the specifics on why and how to design and bind your very own portfolio. Here are some of the things you should think about when preparing creating your portfolio.

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The top five things to do to get your portfolio organized:

1) Finish a body of work. Possibly the most useful part of preparing for a portfolio is the motivation it brings to complete a body of work that you’re proud of and ready to share. If you’re like me, it’s easy to have several half-way completed projects or collections, unfinished ideas and untitled documents floating around your hard drive. When you decide to build a portfolio, you’ll gain the motivation you need to complete all those projects and package them nicely (with document names and perhaps even a story to go with them!). Once you’ve cleaned up all those messy edges of a project, you’ll feel prepared and ready to move on to the next step.

2) Gather materials & decide on a method. The next phase of portfolio building is to gather the materials you’ll need to actually make a book. Take some time to research the different book binding methods and decide on one that fits your work best. Some of my favorites include the drum leaf method, screw and post method and the coptic stitch method. *I share detailed information on all the materials you need for the screw and post method in my class!

3) Decide on what to include. You’ll also want to decide on what exactly you’d like to include in your portfolio. Simple portfolios may only include actual artwork or photographs. More complex portfolios could include a table of contents, several collections, an about page, contact page, product mock ups, and more.

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4) Have an end viewer in mind. Who will be seeing your book? Whether you’re planning on showing your portfolio to an art director, professor, agent or publisher, keeping them in mind as your design your book will give you focus and clarity on what or what not to include. Making a list of companies or individuals you hope to share your work with will help give you guidance (not to mention motivation!).

5) Gather inspiration for you book. When it comes to your portfolio, the possibilities are endless! Start looking at handmade books, inspiration boards and collections. You could fill your pages with printed images, painted pages, actual sketches or illustrations, found bits of inspirations and more. Think ‘sophisticated scrapbooking’ and let your imagination run with you!

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Bonnie Christine

Bonnie Christine is a surface pattern design and author of Going Home to Roost – the blog dedicated to everything handmade and anything homegrown.