The Portfolio Review is a chance for you to get feedback on your work, but it’s also a chance to build relationships with professionals who respond positively to your portfolio and to meet a community of fellow artists. Here are some tips on how to make the best of it:
- Your Portfolio should be limited to 20-30 of your strongest prints.
- The work should be thematically unified body of work. We suggest showing a maximum of two bodies of work.
- Bring a physical portfolio with original prints—no Xeroxes, laser copies, or iPads.
- Size it important. You should bring a set of prints that can be handled and that can fit on a 4′ x 2.5′ table. While reviewers might like to see your photographs as they are meant to be exhibited, showing them huge prints in this setting is not a good idea, as they tend to get damaged. If you print your work large, think about bringing a photo of how you intend to display your images to illustrate your vision to the reviewer.
- Put care into your editing and sequencing—keep in mind that this is a significant part of how reviewers will respond to your work.
- Bring business cards or postcards with contact information and something that reminds reviewers of your work (an image is best). Bring enough cards for reviewers and fellow artists.
- If you plan on bringing books, CDs, etc. for reviewers, make sure they have your contact info and an image of your work on them.
- If you’re promoting an exhibition, any promotional material you have should have all information on it: number of images, sizes, matting and framing requirements, installation details and photos of previous installations.
During the Review
- Be on time for your appointment.
- In the last few minutes of the review:
- Ask the reviewer for his/her card.
- Ask the reviewer if you can add his/her name to your email list.
- Offer the reviewer your promotional material (booklets, exhibit catalogs, etc.) and ask if they’d like to keep them.
- Don’t go over time! Remember that there are artists behind you waiting for their turn.
- Write a thank you note to the reviewers you met with.
- If a reviewer asks for more material, send it to them as soon as possible, and be sure to keep in touch with them. We can’t stress this enough! If a reviewer asks you to follow up, DO IT! They mean it.
Some advice from Daniel Power, CEO of powerHouse books & NYPH:
I’ve seen a lot of work at portfolio sessions across the globe. By far the highest quality I’ve seen in general have come from our own pathbreaking review sessions, started some 12 years go. A few pointers if you are attending:
- Don’t say anything. Besides hello I mean. Make the reviewer work. Make him/her ask the questions. Lots of time is wasted with verbal backstory before the project is unveiled; let that come after the first viewing.
- Don’t self edit; I can’t tell you how many times I got to some part really interesting and was told the rest was at home. Bring as much as you can on as many parts of the project you’re working on as you can. 9 of ten times you’re going to get an edit from your reviewer right then and there. That’s what I like to do!
- Open yourself and be prepared for all sorts of responses. Pieces and finished projects mean different things to different people. The best thing you can do is listen and take them all in, and decide which perspectives you liked most. Now you have a game plan.