Sharing Portfolios and Websites for feedback

  • Hi! I could ‘t find a thread where I could ask for portfolio crits/ feedbacks so I thought I could start one.

    Here’s mine:

    Some context:

    • I currently have 16 pcs from 5 separate briefs.
    • The portfolio is aimed at USA literary agents and local publishing houses for children’s books.

    Specific Feedback I’m looking for:

    • Does it cover all the bases or do you see something I should include? (Eg: animals, more full illustrations, more character and prop designs etc.)
    • Will it entice an art agent to sign me? If not, what changes should I make? (Eg. Colors, subject matter, more high concept, overall style, etc.)

    Related questions:

    • Do literary agents sign you even if you are not based in USA? (I’m based in the Philippines)
    • Should I remove the text or are they ok to keep? (I kind of like how they break up the page and give the pieces context)

    Note: Currently, I’m using Adobe Portfolio as a temporary website to get a feel for the layout and pieces I want to use (taking baby steps). Rest assured, I’ll move into a proper website once I feel things have clicked haha.

    I’m open to suggestions 🙂 Your feedback would be much appreciated.

    Please feel free to share your links and questions on the thread as well. I’m not knowledgable on these though so I’m hoping others would jump in haha.

    Thanks a bunch!

  • I love how you organise your work. I might shorten down the text a bit, and make it clearer in term of page layout to separate the 5 projects. (e.g. adding a line, or some kind decorative element to separate one project from the other.

    You have a couple different mark-makings for your final art, and you have found a way to show that you can do all of them well, and consistently. I would love to work with you if I am an agent. But I also heard the other school of thoughts: agents like artists with one distinct style.

    Finding an agent that fits you can take time. It is very common to hear nothing from agents after your submission. If someone replied, even if it is a "no", or "not now", that could actually means they are interested in your work. I made a decision to celebrate every rejection when I started looking for agents. A rejection could mean two things:

    1. Either someone is interested in my work, but think I need to go an extra mile before she/he is willing to work with me (remember, it is a partnership :-). Hopefully, this person would also include some feedback on what she/he would like to see from me.
    2. Or I just found an agency that would not be a good fit for me. (it is hard to know which agency is a good fit, but a personalised email response can reveal something that I would not be able to find out on their public website).

    I got a rejection letter from an agency earlier this year, which I can see the agent was interested in my work then. She replied my email within a couple of hours, and gave me some feedback on my colour choices, and pointed out maybe I should brighten up my colour scheme in my portfolio. I thought about it for a few days, and took a close look on my portfolio, and I decide I disagree with the agent. So I moved on to submit my work to other agencies. I was very grateful getting that rejection email, and I will always see that agent as someone who has helped me along my art journey. She made me think a little deeper on the choices I make when I do art.

    Are you interested in writing your own stories? You mentioned that you are aiming at literary agencies. It might be an advantage to mention that you are interested in writing your own story, or maybe even show story ideas, or dummies (if you have the intension to write your own story). I have heard literary agencies have a tendency to be more interested in author/illustrators.

    Good luck! and have fun 🙂

  • @xin-li thanks so much for the feedback and encouraging words 😊 My current interest lies exclusively to illustrating children's books but I wanted to target literary agents because I'm only interested in taking on jobs in the publishing industry. I heard art agents sell to a broader market which doesn't really align with my career goals.

    I'll take note on what you've said about style consistency and clarity on what I want for my work. My style is still evolving which came as a surprise so I'm kind of on the fence whether I should scrap this whole thing and just make a new one or to ship this one anyway just to get my target audience feedback.

    Yes, definitely trying to enjoy the process and learn as much as I can haha. I'm fortunate that I have a day job which keeps us afloat so I'm taking the time to build a strong portfolio and research options so I can get a partnership that works for me.

    Again, thanks so much for the feedback. I was feeling kind of stuck on what to do next and the book dummy idea was a great suggestion 😊 with slowvember coming around, I can experiment a bit more.

  • @donnamakesart Don't be discouraged with multiple styles. I strongly believe it is a strength, especially you demonstrated that you can pull off multiple pieces within the same style. Maybe some agents will walk away from artists with multiple styles, but that just means maybe they do not fit with you.

    Of course, if you find one style/mark-making you love above all the others, I say go with that one you enjoy the most and produce a bigger body of work with that one style.

    I follow a few artists who do multiple styles and have a wonderful book illustration career. Charles Santoso is one of my favorite artists who have multiple styles.

  • SVS OG

    @donnamakesart Hi, Donna! Great portfolio! I think you have a strong chance of getting an agent.

    I do have to agree with @xin-li though, there’s too much text. Personally, I hate seeing a lot of text on the portfolio page. It ruins the experience for me. If I were the agent/art director, I would like to see all of your artworks first. If something catches my eye, then I would most likely click on that image and ideally, I would like to see that image enlarged and accompanied by a brief description like The name of the project, when it was completed, and who was the client.

    I would also like to clarify that you don’t have to get a literary agent to get publishing illustration gigs. A common illustration agent will do that just as well. However, if you have plans of writing and illustrating your own book, a Literary agent will be a great fit. Though in my opinion, it’s harder to get into a Literary agency because you don’t only have to prove that you can illustrate, you also have to prove that you can write good stories.

  • Pro

    @donnamakesart I agree with @Nyrryl-Cadiz, personally I'm not a fan of the organization of your portfolio (though the artwork itself is absolutely lovely!!). I'm not sure about scrolling so long through all the details of all the projects to see everything. If you look at @xin-li's portfolio for instance, it has a grid portfolio focused on images, which I thinks works amazing because you can see all her work at once. The viewer can then decide to click on something if it catches their eye and get more detail. But really illustration is a visual media, so with just the images I think people will get a very good idea of your skill.

    Also @xin-li made a great point about your style and while I agree with @Nyrryl-Cadiz that some great artists have multiple styles, I also know from experience it's much HARDER to become a successful artist when you have multiple styles, especially in the beginning. It might simplify your journey to focus on just one right now, and you can always add more styles later! In the beginning it's so hard to get clients to give you a chance. Something like multiple styles can sometimes be the excuse they use to not go with you. Maybe they'll think "Uhhmmm but if I go with her, what am I going to get? Is she going to go freestyle on me? Is she a jack of all trades, master of none?" With more experience, credentials and reputation, you can overcome these obstacles. But at the beginning of your career, it's already an obstacle race + minefield all rolled into one. I don't believe you need an additional level of difficulty at this stage...

    Also Adobe Portfolio is a real website, I use them myself and love them! Just get yourself a domain name to link to it and you're golden! It's about $10 a year and you can do this from the settings on your Adobe Portfolio.

  • SVS OG

    @NessIllustration hi! I think you mis-tagged me on the style part

  • Pro

    @Nyrryl-Cadiz Whoops my bad!!

  • @NessIllustration these are great feedback. Thanks so much! Noted on the layout and the style tips. When you say sticking to one style, is it my palette and medium that causes it to look disjointed? Or is it the actual character designs that make them inconsistent? Let me know!

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz oooh ok ok. Yes, I see how that would work better. Thanks so much for the feedback!

    Noted on the illustration agent. I’ll look into it! 😊

  • Thanks @xin-li! You’ve given me a few things to think about. I’ll keep you guys posted on how things turn out 😊

  • @donnamakesart Take my thoughts with a grain of salt...I am an art teacher not a professional (yet!) I think your style looks consistent except for the Wonder piece. Your mark making is consistent throughout except the Wonder piece. It kinda feels jarring compared to the whimsical lines and fresh feel of your other pieces. It seems overworked and very digital in comparison. It's a lovely piece, don't get me wrong, but it might be a good idea to leave it out if you want a consistent look. This is just my two cents. I love your work!

  • @chrisaakins Thank you for the feedback and kind words 😊 I have great respect for teachers. It takes patience and communication skills I don’t have haha.

    Yes, my digital work definitely has a different style to my traditional pieces. My style is still evolving which is an uncomfortable process 😅 but I want to send this one out to local publishers and art agents to get industry feedback on what to work on as well.

    I’ve felt that I’ve been creating in a bubble haha. The SVS forum was definitely a step out of my shell (in a good way!) I’ve learnt so much already. Like the world expanded suddenly haha.

  • @donnamakesart I love your portfolio and your style, beautiful work, wow!
    I hope you get an awesome agent; are you only wanting an American agent?
    Anyway, love your work. If you want to check out my portfolio, it's
    Mine needs improving and updating too 🙂

  • @MattBaker Wow! That’s a meaty portfolio! I like the Buzzbomb illustrations the best. The Bible illustrations are also nice. Your skills seem to shine the best in the very complex pieces 🙂

    For your question, ideally I would like to work with a USA agent. The market is bigger and pays better from what I hear. My style is also heavily influenced by western cartoons but I’m flexible with that part of my goals. It’s just something solid to aim for haha.

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