Building my portfolio



  • Hi there!
    I am in the tough situation that I'll have to get work fastly to sustain the life of me and my family (including three kids). Good thing is that I can rely on aliments that I receive for my children, so I don't have to gain our entire living; and that I will earn well in Germany while having reasonable expences here in Portugal. I am finally in a position that I CAN work now, which wasn't possible the last couple of years.

    That means that I have to refresh everything that I've learnt (studied design, focus on illustration in Germany), I'll have to learn new things because the world changed a lot since I finished studying. I have to find my visual language. I'll have to find my branch. And I have to come up with a lot of pieces that are going to attract possible customers in that branch.

    Calculating what I still have on my banc account, what is my monthly income so far and our monthly expenses, I should start to gain money from illustration by the next couple of months.
    I think it's tough, but possible. I have three to four hours a day to start with.

    Here's my plan:

    1. Decide where I want to go (which field of illustration), based on my capabilities and wishes.
    2. Figure out what I need to learn for that.
    3. Learn that.
    4. Do awesome work for my portfolio.
    5. The rest is another topic that goes beyond the content of this post 😉 (Build up a business-plan, register as freelance illustrator, get my website set up and so on).

    Well, that sounds like a plan, but when I'm sitting down on my desk, I don't know where to start ... I would really appreciate if some of you give their constructive criticism, for me to reflect if all that makes sence. Thank you for reading so far!



  • @Meta I understand your desire to make money from your work. I am not in a need position, but I’m very much in a really want to make this work mentality.

    If you already have a sense of what areas you’d like to focus on 1-2 then I would yes suggest looking into them and also testing them out. If not perhaps test a broader range, a project for each.

    I would also look into the business side as you go a little at a time. I haven’t done this well, so it’s a bit overwhelming because it puts me into the reality frame of mind.



  • I figured out a problem that I have: I've been overviewing the possible fields of illustration, marking all the ones theoretically possible for me, and breaking them down to the ones I want to start with. Now I have some at hand which are easy to approach (technically), where projects have a short time span (I cannot work on a book for months before getting paid; not yet in the beginning). And where I see myself somehow. Which are:

    Editorial (for small magazines)
    Infographic (informational, instructional, how-to's)
    Graphic Recording
    Corporate Concept Visualization (don't know how to name that, but a friend works for companies often and sais it is good income and they use to treat you like an artist, while paying you like a service provider; not the other way around, as publishers often do).

    The thing is, that they don't attract me. I am indeed much more attracted to (children's) book projects and long term dedicated work. Maybe board games. Maybe graphic novels. Despite I know I won't start with those ... Any suggestion? If any of you who has seen my images so far (instagram) has an idea what to do with that and where to start, you're welcome to share that.

    @Heather-Boyd said in Building my portfolio:

    @Meta If you already have a sense of what areas you’d like to focus on 1-2 then I would yes suggest looking into them and also testing them out. If not perhaps test a broader range, a project for each.

    That will be what I'll start with. For now, I am going to do some research on the fields of illustration I just listed above to see how to proceed. Thank you!

    @Heather-Boyd said in Building my portfolio:

    @Meta I would also look into the business side as you go a little at a time.
    Do you have a suggestion of where/how to start?


  • SVS OG

    @Meta hi! Getting into illustration is a slow process. It might take months before you get a freelance gig. What I can suggest right now is to choose at least 2 illustration fields and going full force on it. For the next 3 months, make your portfolio a priority. If you decide to go into children’s book illustration, make at least 12 pieces for each. Manage your finances so that you can survive for months while you are developing your work. That’s all I can say for now. I ho-e this helps.


  • Pro

    @Meta It seems a good plan, but the timeline is very short. Even if you had your portfolio finished right now and started sending it around today, you should expect to wait at least a couple months to get work. Looking at your Instagram, you already have a lot of beautiful pieces. My best advice would be to build a quick website on Adobe Portfolio or some such platform and start sending it everywhere you can find. Then while you're waiting for fish to bite, you can take some time to figure out which field you'd prefer, refine your portfolio to fit that and set up your business plan. But since you need work urgently, don't delay submitting until you've got it all perfect - perfect doesn't exist anyway, you'll always be updating and improving your portfolio all your life and you need work now. I would also suggest applying to illustration agencies. In time they would find some of your work for you, and they can also help guide you in picking a good field for your style as well as suggestions to improve your portfolio.



  • @NessIllustration It might be a good idea to put my works online already. I do already have a profile on creativecloud, and on Behance as well, without a lot of content in each. I checked out Adobe Portfolio now, and saw that I can directly import works from Behance. I can do the same with creative pool, so I only need to feed Behance to have all the three of them filled. That's handy! Thanks for the hint!



  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz I know that I want too much at once! 😜 Well, the only thing I can do is to go one step after the other. The good thing is that I already had sme work published some years ago. I have friends whom I studied with to ask if I need help. The fields of illustration I listed are partly similar in the way I'd have to work. I will have to put children's books in a queue, together with graphic novels for later, unfortunately.


  • Pro

    @Meta That's awesome! And on Behance they also have a jobs section, so check that out 🙂



  • @NessIllustration, that's good to know!
    I've put all my old stuff into Behance now so far. This is all so old! Who would like to chek it out, here's te link to Behance.
    Now I need new stuff in there. But I take a break now.


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