Thoughts on organising portfolio site (for SCBWI portfolio showcase)

  • Hi, everyone.
    I am working on updating my portfolio site for the upcoming SCBWI winter conference portfolio showcase. This is my first time attending the conference, I wonder if I could pick your brain for ideas on how to organise my portfolio. I am mainly thinking about:

    1. What sequence would be the best to display my artwork? (right now I put my favourite piece on the top, that is about as far as my thinking goes. I have heard that for a physical portfolio, you want to have a strong piece to end the portfolio. But for me, this advice just does not work well with the scrolling experience on the web - the more people scroll down, the less attention they have in my experience.)
    2. Should I take out a few pieces on the bottom?
    3. Any thoughts in general?
    4. Any piece I should rework a bit before the deadline?
      I know that I miss sequential pieces. I might not be able to do a series of 3 images before the deadline. But I have asked my editor to see if I can use 3 images from a book I just finished. (the answers is probably no, but it never hurt to ask).

    As for the 3 images I need to upload to enter the showcase, I will probably use the first 3 images in my portfolio.
    Screenshot 2021-01-27 at 20.36.53.png

    Here is the link to my website:

    Looking forward to hear your thoughts (Lots of pieces here were developed for the SVS monthly contest :-).

  • @xin-li Hi, I like thinking about this even though I have not finished enough pieces to worry about the problem for myself. So I hope you don't mind if I share my thoughts as someone that enjoys looking at other people's portfolios, instead of someone giving advice:

    I like everything on one page, with the choice to click for detail, but not the necessity. Other pages can be for projects in a series. This means that I particularly like it when more detailed pieces are bigger, and pieces where design is central, like spot illustrations and book covers, are smaller. It helps me scroll through many images from an illustrator when they have gone through and placed emphasis in size for me: here I want you to see how the cover design works well as a marketing thumbnail, here is a spread that shows I can be trusted with meaningful details within a strong composition so that you can focus on the general design shapes in that other one, here is a black and white piece that brings out the use of color in that other spread with a full environment (an example of this in your work is the way the fish in the forest piece looks next to the catch the moon piece). I prefer when action and composition points to the middle of the page (even though I know it doesn't matter). Spot illustrations that have a background the same color as your website can show me how the spot illustration would appear in the publication it's meant for. The black and white section of your website is so lovely, but it seems to me to be not so much about black and white as about inktober projects, because they are each the same format and part of a series. So for me a label like Inktober 2019 or something like that would be perfect to help me know what that is before I click on it. Not that I've seen that before, though. What I use as an idea of organizing work is a way of moving someone through the different formats I can do very easily so that they can focus on the right content for each piece. There is no way they will notice everything about everything I put up there so I am trying to develop the skill of seeing what is strong in each piece I want to include and giving my viewer visual hints about what I think that might be. Having very few pieces can suggest confidence in seeing what is really working well in one's own work, and the ability to select the right work to show range without showing the full range.

    Your portfolio is great as it is, but for number 2, I think you don't need them. For the last pieces, maybe the Babysang cover and the spread with the constellations. As for #4, the mouse working at the desk looks a lot like the mouse reading the cat book and the mouse watering the plant. Maybe you can connect them? The girl in the yellow glasses also reappears later and I like her so much. Maybe she can be the girl with the singing cricket too? That piece feels to me like the shape could be rounder, like the blades of grass could form a gentle shape around her, rather than follow the edges of the image.

    Anyway, this is much longer than I thought it would be, but you have enough pieces that the difficult work will be to choose fewer. 🙂

  • @carolinebautista thank you so much for taking a look of my website and sharing your thoughts.

    I completely get your point of images should be able to show enough details before your click it. I have had this challenge for the website for a while. The templates I found in Squarespace are either in favour of displaying landscape format images, or in favour of displaying portrait format images. I have a hard time figuring out a template (or a design in general) that works with both dimensions without a complete customisation. At this moment, I am considering switching to a template that are more in favour of displaying landscape images, as book spreads are landscape format.

    I think I am also keeping this in mind when producing future personal piece. I would try to do more landscape images to resemble a book spread.

    As for images for be removed: I agree with the pieces you mentioned, hehe. I think I can cut down even more. I heard you will be judged by your worst piece in the portfolio. hehe... I need to take out these old pieces even that I invested so much time on them.

    I need to think a little harder on the revisions. But I am wondering one thing: is it weird to have the girl with glasses hoping up again later, same with the mouse? Visually, it looks better when I spread these spot images around, especially they do not have a connected stories. It makes the page more balanced. But content wise, I see a point of having all the image with the same character next to each other. what do you think about this?

  • SVS OG

    @xin-li personally, I think your portfolio is perfect. Sadly, I have very little knowledge on what will do great in these type of contests. I don't have that much to add.

  • @xin-li So I should explain that when I look at a portfolio website, I almost always zoom out to see what the artist's work looks like all together. I didn't realize that I do this, but it's the reason I compared the mice in your different pieces, and the girl. They looked similar enough to invite the comparison when they're all thumbnail-sized. So it is extremely picky of me to look at the slightly different mice and compare them for character consistency when that was not what you intended, it was just the idea that a series might already be started in your work!

    As for your question, it does seem too tricky for me to speak for anyone else, but I like the idea of each piece standing on its own, yet having a distinct character pop up again as I'm scrolling. I wouldn't separate the spots of the girl fishing in the cardboard box, for example, because that shows a sequence of action and all of those need to be taken in together. But the mouse at work in the piece with the cheese moon seemed like he was suddenly reading a book on cats, and the idea that you could add little things that mean it's the same mouse kind of delighted me. 😃 Also the idea that the girl with the yellow glasses would start a bit grumpy and then enjoy the effects of the rain in different ways seemed fun.

    These are definitely things that would not be important in the portfolio showcase. They do look at each piece, but probably cannot look that closely. It's typical for me to start with an ideal and slowly chip away at it for what's possible.

    And as for the control of image displays - I do like that I can customize the website I have right now to show different sizes, but if I could go back, I would certainly choose something much simpler than what I ended up with. The adobe portfolio one has a slideshow option that would be really nice for navigating through each image rather than scrolling, if people choose to do that. I think with design, even in terms of organizing a portfolio in an optimal way, it's basically an illusion of control that I'm talking about, so in practice I am more flexible about it, I'm definitely feeling the effects of overthinking things too far ahead of time.

    You changed it to three or so in each row, and you took out some things, and I think it looks great (even though I very much like all the pieces you took out)! Small enough to be the right pace, large enough to see the detail. 🙂

    My daughter says this is a lot of typing, so I think I will stop now. 😆

  • @carolinebautista thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. It means a lot to me. I will let you know how my experience is for attending the portfolio showcase. I can not see there is hope for in-person conference in the summer, so I assume the SCBWI summer conference would probably be a similar format for the portfolio showcase. 🙂

  • @xin-li yes, I fully agree! And thank you so much, they have confused me quite a bit. By summer, I will be ready to join everyone 🙂

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