When your style changes (portfolio question)

  • As artists, it's natural to constantly grow and evolve, so when your interests change, your work changes too. However I'm looking at my work lately and seeing a significant difference. And more and more I am seeing commentary on branding, style and basically just creating something that can identify you.

    I find myself challenged by this simply due to having so many interests and enjoying so many different styles. I've never really felt like I had any visual identity or ways that people could look at something and associate it with me. I'm not purposfully doing this, it evolves because of what I find appealing, how I process, and many times my curiosity about how someone made their work. I say "that's awesome, how can I make something similar?"


    My question is: what should I do about my portfolio with this change? It's fine on a blog or social media, as to me your blog is a sandbox for sharing your discoveries and processes, and social media is a continuous stream of content (does anyone really go back through your posts??). But your website is something that defines you so that people can find you (and maybe commission or hire you!)

    Most of my work is old and I am trying to update the site with new content, but we all know that can be a bit of a process, especially when you're still "in between" phases, exploring and experimenting. I just refreshed the theme last night and the content frustrates me so much, the contrast is jarring and it doesn't really reflect who I am or where I am going at this point. I want to take it down, but I've worked hard on trying to establish a presence, that would be a bit silly and self-sabotaging.

    Please enlighten me, what would you do in this situation?

  • Moderator

    I seem to remember other folks having similar quandaries, and their solution was to partition their website into different styles to keep the work separate. You might consider doing a landing page with two different paths off it, maybe? Other artists do this with different media, as their style looks distinctly different when working with very different tools, or divide their work up by project--sort of like "phases" with collections of work in those different phases.

    It seems to me that there are more and more instances of Art Directors who can indeed mentally partition the different styles of artists and ask for the specific style they're looking to contract if you help them and make it as non-confusing as possible for them.

    I think, also, how you brand/market/package yourself and your work depends very strongly on the type of work you're seeking and the industry you're looking to work in. An animator might benefit from being able to demonstrate the capacity to adopt lots of styles as well as work in their own.

    From what I can glean, Art Directors just want to know that they're going to get what they've asked for in the way they expect it. If you can help them by making that clear on your website and conversations, and then use your time wisely to generate enough work to flesh out your new style enough that you can remove the old stuff, then I bet you'll be fine. Even Will Terry has two different styles now. He's talked about that several times in the 3-Point Perspective podcast and on his own YouTube channel. Maybe you could find some good advice from him there?

    I'm not sure there's much of an alternative except to keep doing work you don't like to do until you generate enough work to replace your old portfolio examples... 😞

  • @Coreyartus Thank you for such a comprehensive answer! You've framed it well, because it's sort of what I've been trying to do, but have been somewhat superficial about my approach. So I need to get more specific about phases and restructure the content from general topics like "characters" or "animation". Now to find what kind of words would be more fitting.

    I'll try and apply this soon. You are a gem!

Log in to reply