Portfolio help needed: many styles or one?



  • Over the years I've done a lot of commercial work, and one thing I do is use whatever style will fit the brief. I prefer looser watercolour, but whilst I'd love to do that all the time it doesn't always fit the client.

    I've heard that you should have just one style so art director know what you do and what to expect.

    Equally I've heard that having a wide range makes you more versatile, and whilst you might not be famous (or rich) for one style, you also don't risk the in vogue or out issues and there will always be work. (Some famous illustrator said that....can't remember who)

    Having watched the portfolio video I realise I need to tidy up....but where to start?
    To help explain the mess, here's the links to my styles....appreciate your help people!

    https://onegraydot.com/colour-illustration/

    https://onegraydot.com/colour-cartoons/

    https://onegraydot.com/black-and-white-cartoons/

    https://onegraydot.com/black-and-white-illustration/

    There's duplicates in there too which needs corrections! But I've also got a load more which need putting up. Eeek!

    Thanks in advance.



  • @andyg Wow! Lots to choose from. It seems to me that you could divide them into sections and have them all in your portfolio but, I am not the one to ask since I haven't really mastered my own little portfolio :-) Hopefully you'll get some other feedback from more experienced illustrators :-)



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  • I am not a professional, but here are my thoughts and observations, nonetheless.

    @andyg said in Portfolio help needed: many styles or one?:

    Over the years I've done a lot of commercial work, and one thing I do is use whatever style will fit the brief.

    Could you clarify a bit on how your client work has gone in the past? Do they give you a brief and ask you to do it in a certain style, or do they give you a brief and then you are the one determining the style? How are clients approaching you and what are they saying when they ask you to take on a project, in terms of style?

    @andyg said in Portfolio help needed: many styles or one?:

    I prefer looser watercolour, but whilst I'd love to do that all the time it doesn't always fit the client.

    Looking through your work on your site, I'm not seeing this style. Maybe in a couple of your maps, but that's it. If this is what you prefer, why is not represented more on your site? Perhaps you'd find more clients who would want this type of work, if you show a lot more of this kind of work.

    @andyg said in Portfolio help needed: many styles or one?:

    I've heard that you should have just one style so art director know what you do and what to expect.

    This is conventional wisdom, but there are so many exceptions and variance to this rule. To simplify, if you want to work in more than one style, show that you are equally competent across the different styles, and include enough illustrations in each style to show consistency. If you are really good in one style, but not very good in another, I feel this would damage your reputation as a professional. On your landing page or home page of your portfolio website, show that you are an artist who works in more than one style, and organize your website well so that clients can go directly to the style or market they are interested in.

    This idea of an art director knowing what to expect, also applies to growing your own personal fan base through social media. People are looking for a "brand" to follow. You can have more than one style, and if they compliment each other, than I feel you are more likely to grow and keep a fan base to grow your business. Think of a venn diagram and the intersection of people who want to see certain art styles. What will be the percentage of the intersection between people who want to see surreal horror art and people who want to see Thomas Kinkade landscapes? What would the venn diagram look like for people who like Pixar animation vs people who like children's illustrations?

    @andyg said in Portfolio help needed: many styles or one?:

    Equally I've heard that having a wide range makes you more versatile, and whilst you might not be famous (or rich) for one style, you also don't risk the in vogue or out issues and there will always be work. (Some famous illustrator said that....can't remember who)

    I think that having more than one style can potentially get you more work, but I think the danger of your style going out of vogue, can be just as applicable to someone who has one distinct style, as someone who works in many. Just remember that your style can evolve to keep up with current demands and tastes, whether you work in one or many.

    @andyg said in Portfolio help needed: many styles or one?:

    Having watched the portfolio video I realise I need to tidy up....but where to start?

    I think a good place to start is by evaluating your goals as an artist and who your audience is. What markets do you want to work in? What are the different ways you will be generating income from your art? Your answers will give you better clarity on how to organize and curate your portfolio. Only include the kind of work you actually want to do. You might be really proficient as a realistic oil painter, but if you don't want to be spending your time making realistic oil paintings for clients- don't include that in your portfolio.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. Good luck!



  • Wow @tessw thanks for the long reply.

    Work in the past. Clients look at the range I do and choose a style. Or because I can duplicate most styles we work it out together starting with them finding a kind of mood board of styles. If they aren't sure then I suggest ideas and come up with something new for them. Some have seen work I have done and ask for that style. Everything on the website portfolio has been commercially published.

    Preferred style are these ones:
    1_1503817171651_IMG_4242.JPG 0_1503817171641_IMG_4269.JPG
    Rather than repost the rest of your advice as a reply, I'll just say a huge thank you for your direction! Brilliant advice. I'll finish the book I am working on this week, then tidy up the website.

    Gonna copy your reply and print it off ;-)


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