Essential tips from illustration agent Helen Parker on presenting your work

Putting together any kind of portfolio comes with its challenges. Whether in person or online, there are countless ways of communicating who you are and what you do. This can make for some tough decision-making, so to offer some clarity on the process, we reached out to illustration agent Helen Parker. Here, she shares some essential dos and don’ts to help get your work across in an easily accessible – and memorable – way.

With so many more accessible ways to find and view work, presenting your work in the right way is now more important than ever. In this gloriously digital age, everyone is expected to work faster and get more done; sadly people have less time to spend looking at work, and this means you have to stand out more.

Here is my checklist of dos and don’ts for presenting your work:

Create a website or Tumblr page
Don’t spend lots of money on creating something with clever wizardry – the simplest sites are the best. Take a look at Tom Clohosey Cole’s site for a shining example. If you have both stills and moving-image work, separate the disciplines so it’s easy to navigate.

Edit your work down
You don’t need more than 100 images on a website – the more you have, the slower the site will be. Equally, don’t freak out if you don’t have 100 images – don’t put work up that you are not happy with to make up the numbers.

Keep images to a similar size
An orderly page will give each image visual potency. This was a particular challenge with Stevie Gee’s page on our website as he works for such varied clients with multiple end uses. But after some careful editing and cropping, the results are so satisfying.

“Don’t put work up that you are not happy with to make up the numbers.”

Don’t shy away from printing a portfolio
We are all so glued to screens these days that seeing work printed out at a decent size (A3 is best) is ultimately more pleasurable, even if the original was produced digitally. If you create artwork by hand, take sketchbooks along to show clients, agents or art directors. Personal work is always the loveliest to see.

Create printed marketing material
A postcard is still the most effective thing to leave with someone after a meeting. If it’s an image that really resonates, they will almost certainly put it on their wall and then you will always be there reminding them that you’d like to be commissioned. Stickers are great too, and surprisingly cheap to print. My laptop is covered in stickers by my artists. Tote bags, if you’re feeling flush, are also great.

For any further advice, you’ll have to come and see me for a cuppa and a chat!

Helen Parker was previously Head of Illustration at Blink Art, a creative agency representing photography, illustration, set design, film, animation and installation.

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