I am old! Portfolio feedback



  • Hiya Janette and welcome ๐Ÿ‘‹

    I'm 41 and was worried I was too old. But I have decided we are not 'old' we are 'wise' ๐Ÿ˜‚ so go for it!

    Also a fellow Brit but still living in my hometown in England (Tamworth, Staffs).

    I have had a look at your site and I agree that it would be better to go straight to a gallery your work rather than the about page. I have been told to keep styles separate or categorise them, which I think you have done on your site and also your children's book style seems quite consistent to me. ๐Ÿ‘

    Your work looks great ๐Ÿ™‚

    Do you want any more graphic design work? If not I would remove it. Although I do need to practice what I preach there... I am like you and have been a graphic designer for 20 years working in design and advertising agencies, also freelance. I have a design section on my site too, which I need to remove but I do feel like I'm hiding 20 years of experience away. I have removed a lot but it's hard to press that button to disable the last few pages, but on the other hand I don't want to create any more logos - I'm all logo-ed out now ๐Ÿ˜ต

    I do enjoy working in a lot of different styles too. I think it's because as a designer we have to create illustration work to fit around clients look and brand style and also it has to fit a function, so every brief is pretty different but you have to be able to complete that particular brief to their requirements.

    I find it a bit weird that being able to do more than one thing is a disadvantage but I can see the point that art directors want to understand what they are getting as they want to pick the illustrator to the brief. Where as in design, it's sometimes the other way around, you get the brief and it's up to you to create something to fit the brief. You literally have to be able to do everything, and that's what I'm used to.

    There is some great advice here and I thoroughly support the professional portfolio critique. I imagine a SCBWI one would be great. The British Isles SCBWI have just released critique applications but I am not ready yet unfortunately. They say what they would ideally like you have in it and I don't quite have it all. I am using the SVS monthly art prompts on here to help me create a more consistent and coherent portfolio of which I am lacking at the moment and one day I will hopefully be ready for one.

    @NessIllustration videos are great. I love watching them and recommend. Thanks for doing them Ness!



  • Hi @Janette! Thanks for sharing your site with us. Beautiful, varied work! (I'm especially drawn to the Smarty Locks and Sneezy Bear styles.)

    Like everyone else has said, lead with your art on the home page. Let a visitor click on the 'about' page if they want to, and since most people don't visit websites to read a ton of content, you may want to condense your bio and organize it in a way that's easy to consume. (There are a few ways to do this; on my site, I use bullet points to simplify my bio.)

    One question about your children's book portfolio: why is it mostly book covers? Are you looking to illustrate book covers? If your goal is to be hired for picture books, you may want to show a variety of illustrations as well as covers: spreads, full pages, spots, etc. Show that you can illustrate an entire book.

    Regarding style: according to art directors and editors (in articles I've read and webinars I've attended), they want to see that you can consistently render style and character throughout 32 pages. Most don't care if an artist works in more than one style, some even like it! But what they do want to see is portfolio organization, that you recognize you work in more than one style and can switch back and forth and be competent in all. Most say that if an artist works in more than one style, they would like to see their portfolio organized by style. (That's what I've done with mine -- you can take a look, but I haven't had a professional portfolio review, so take what I've done with a grain of salt! ๐Ÿ˜‰)

    Thanks for sharing your work with us. Onward and upward!



  • @lizardillo I still enjoy doing Graphic design and would like to keep my hand in it, plus being able to design and take a book to print is an extra thing I can offer self publishers.

    I'm for sure going to follow everyones advice and simplify the whole site and have illustrations as the first thing you see. That makes so much sense.

    Thank you for the video link, I will take a look!



  • @Melissa-Bailey-0 Hi Melissa, Yes, I'm going to rework the site so my best work is shown on the home page, without all my verbal diarrhorea!!!

    The book covers actually link to their interior illustrations, but that adds another extra step that I need to remove. I could see how it might look like that's all I do.

    I looked on the SCBWI site and didnt find an option to get a portfolio review. I think maybe I've seen that offered at their conferences in the past. I need to find a way to get that done, I think it would be really helpful.

    Thank you for your comments, everyone on here is really nice. ๐Ÿ™‚



  • @Janette you're so welcome! โค๏ธ

    So, just FYI, but I did click on the book covers in your portfolio but no interior illustrations displayed, or arrows to show a carousel. Might be a glitch to explore/fix.

    Or you could just eliminate that extra click to see interior illustrations, like you said. ๐Ÿ˜Š



  • @Melissa-Bailey-0 Oh, yeah, not all of them have interior images up there yet - that's the 'not quite finished with the website' bit! lol, BUT, I plan on changing up the way things are presented now anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter. When you click on a cover, you have to scroll down to see the illustrations. I apparently like to make things as complicated as possible! lol



  • @Janette ๐Ÿ˜‚ understood! Looking forward to seeing your new-and-improved website! (Maybe I can get some tips from you ... I seem to keep tweaking and updating mine.)



  • @Melissa-Bailey-0 LOL It's like doing art - there's always more you can do ... Finished, not perfect - I keep hearing the guys say that on the podcast! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love your illustrations btw. The little girl with the egg reminded me of when I found a tiny egg on the walk home from school one day and I took it home, determined I was going to get it to hatch and become its mother. I order to keep it warm, I took it to bed with me. You can image how that ended!!



  • @Janette good plan. Being able to layout books and send to print is a great advantage. If you are combining all of the text on your site into one bio page I would let people know as it doesn't quite make it clear at the moment on your graphic design page that you have prepress skills. It mentions billboards and email marketing but you may have to say about taking a book to print.

    I was advised to have a paragraph mentioning the transferable skills, apparently you want to put keywords in the sentences that would show up in a Google search for SEO which I was not aware I should be doing. If someone is googling an illustrator with print knowledge then hopefully you will show up in a search. ๐Ÿ‘



  • @lizardillo Oh Yes! Good point!


  • Pro

    @Janette It's a great idea to offer book design for self-publishers, most of them will take you up on that! But from my experience you don't actually have to show graphic design on your website, they'll still ask if you can do it (or expect it without asking) regardless ๐Ÿ˜‚



  • Hi! I am by no means a professional but as a lay person I have some suggestions about your about me section and the other parts with text. I donโ€™t want to sound harsh but it gives off the vibe that youโ€™re unsure of yourself and your work. You mention being โ€œoldโ€ (youโ€™re not, but so what if you were?) a couple times and how your style is all over the place (I donโ€™t think itโ€™s as bad as you seem to). This leads me to believe youโ€™re self-conscious about these things. You should be selling yourself not sowing doubt. Your work is lovely and it will speak for itself.

    And as far as the age thing, letโ€™s be honest we hardly ever see men talking about how โ€œoldโ€ they are especially in professional settings. Will Terry is probably up around that age somewhere (I donโ€™t really know because he doesnโ€™t display it) and he never speaks of his age as a disadvantage. With age comes experience and you have experience IN the industry. You are at an advantage here!

    Know and show your worth without qualifiers or disclaimers ๐Ÿค—



  • @Janette
    I echo @NessIllustration - let a clear focus drive your decision on how to put together a portfolio. If the focus you choose does not work out, you can always change it, tweak it, re-invent yourself.

    I consider my website super simple. But recently, I have an art direct reviewing my portfolio. She did not realise that I also have black and white illustrations in my portfolio because it was in a different tab. This made me thinking that there is definitely room for improvement on my website, especially if I want to get offers for YA novels with black and white interiors.

    I made the decision to become an illustrator when I was 39, and I had almost 0 illustration experience. For years I felt I was too old for starting a new career which I have no clue when I can start paying the bill. But now I am glad I did it.



  • @xin-li That's amazing, and you have a beautiful style.



  • @Freddie-Leota Thank you for your feedback. Maybe its a British thing where we don't like to appear to think too much of ourselves and would rather play down our achievements. Maybe it's because I have no formal training, so I feel like I don't know enough, or like I'm an art fraud! I feel it's necessary to qualify a success with 'but I failed art in school'. lol have to balance it all out, you know?!

    Maybe its a bit of both. But, you're right, I need to sell myself more. I was incredibaly fortunate to start my career in publishing and have a really encouraging design manager who knew I wanted to be an illustrator. I still work with him today, 20 years on.

    You're right about the age thing. I do wish I pushed myself more to go after larger publishers, but its that lack of confidence in my ability that had held me back. I need to work on that.

    Thank you for your comments.



  • @Janette ๐Ÿ˜‚ what a great story! And thanks so much. My girl and egg illustrations are inspired by childhood experiences too. When we were growing up my sister had ducks for pets, and one egg wouldn't hatch, so she "helped" it and because she was the first thing it saw, the duckling imprinted on her -- it thought it was human and was scared of the other ducks!


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