Requesting Portfolio Review after almost a Year of reforming it

  • Hey everyone!

    Soooo, I have been 'Freelancing' for a good 3/4s of a year now since my last job ended, and when I started I hadn't had any direction for my work and didn't know what to do yet. I've since tried to gear towards children's illustration and looking at my portfolio now, I can at least say that the entire homepage consists of new art that I created in the spirit of that objective.

    In that time I have sent one set of post cards to 150 publishers recently, and queried very few agencies. Those got back to me saying my work was beautiful but they didn't have any availability for it at the moment. Fair enough! I've also had two publishers respond to me saying they liked my work and would keep me on file in case of a suitable project.

    It might be that I just simply haven't emailed enough agencies, and that I should just trust the relatively positive response I have gotten and continue searching. But part of me still wonders if that is just a polite wave-off and my work is still not suitable for any agency or publisher. Although I love creating the work I do now, and like how it looks a lot myself, I constantly worry that it isn't textured or stylistic enough to work for what I want to do. Maybe my favourite colour pallettes even are holding me back?

    Needless to say at the moment I feel a bit hazy about working on my career when it feels like I haven't really made any headway in a year.

    So I'd super appreciate if anyone has any insight after taking a look at my portfolio.

    Is there something crucial I am missing? Should I be going back to the drawing board on some of this or just stop worrying and start querying more?

    Thanks for any help!


  • You have some beautiful work! I think your style translates nicely into both fantasy and children's work. I am at the same place in my career as you, in that I am starting to contact publishers and agencies. I think it's just one of those things where you have to try not to get disheartened and keep going!

    I think you have some really good pieces in your portfolio. I think it might be helpful to add some sequential work so that art directors can see that you can consistently draw the same characters. Besides that I think your work is great! I'm excited to see where your work will go in the future 🙂

  • I was just reading this question sent to the secret art directors yesterday and it's very similar to your situation. Sounds like you're doing all the right things and getting a positive response. Just keep making art and putting yourself out there:

  • Hi @Nathalie-Kranich, your work is beautiful and definitely ready for the big time (in my opinion).

    Here’s a few suggestions:

    1. Signup for Office Time with SVS. Based on your work, I think @Will-Terry would be a great start.

    2. Put a lot of your energy in finding a great agent. The more I learn about this business, the more I realize going it alone is soooooooooo hard!

    3. Enter into a portfolio review contest with SCBWI.

    4. Like the others said, keep pushing forward! They’ll be many rejections, but it’s the grit that will help you reach your goals.

    Good luck!

  • SVS OG

    @Nathalie-Kranich hi! Before give a critique, I would just like to ask about your site’s layout. Currently, I can’t view the images along the sides. They’re akwardly cut and I can’t swipe to see them. I’m using a tablet.

    Here’s what I currently see



  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz I'm on a tablet and I can't see them all either. What I can see is beautiful!!

  • SVS OG

    @deborah-Haagenson Same also on a tablet

  • @neschof Thank you! I love that blog and hadn't seen that yet, that was very relevant to read and indeed encouraging.

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz @deborah-Haagenson

    thanks for pointing that out! I didn't think of tablets when I recently widened the site. The theme isn't super responsive and whilst it scales for wide desktops and mobile it doesn't for anything inbetween, and I thought it was a shame to only use the center space for the gallery - BUT imma change that back, because it's no good ruining the tablet viewing experience.

    Hopefully that's fixed now.

  • SVS OG

    @Nathalie-Kranich i just checked it and it looks way better in the new layout.

  • @eriberart Haha, I saw your post about the Bologna Book fair and arranging meetings for the London Fair and was so impressed with your efforts and disheartened with my own XD It's not in the budget for me right now to go to fairs I think, but I hope I can do so next year with a better idea of who to contact.

    Thanks for your feedback, sequential is definitly on my to do list.

    Your work is great, I am expecting beautiful books from you very soon 😃

  • @Nathalie-Kranich Don't feel disheartened! I went to Bologna in 2017 and 2018 and didn't get any work from it haha! Although in hindsight my work definitely wasn't ready, but it was still a great experience to go to the fair and get inspiration.
    I'm pretty sure LBF will be cancelled too this year so maybe it's a good thing you didn't arrange to go 😂

  • @eriberart I didn't want to say it but yeah XD this year I might just swear off fairs and conventions to play it safe and hopefully next year isn't overshadowed by global tragedy 😞

  • SVS OG

    @Nathalie-Kranich so having addressed the layout part, let’s go to the review. I think you have a great thing going on here. I like your illustrations and concepts but I’m seeing 2 major things you’re lacking.

    1. Children of various races, bodies, etc. Currently all I see are caucasian kids. I would greatly help if you include more variety in them. Include East Asians, Southeast Asians, Latin america kids, black kids, middle eastern kids, Kids with disabilities, etc. Show them doing multiple tasks. You can put multiple kids in a illustration and show them interacting.

    2. Sequential illustrations. You might have already heard this but you need to show character consistency through various illustrations.

    After completing these, you might want to follow Will’s list of portfolio must haves. You can add more animals, vehicles, different times of the day, different season, adults, different settings, interior/exterior. There’s a lot to add but it will surely boost your appeal to agents. Right now, I think the thing that’s preventing them from hiring you is your limited number of works. Continue illustrating and you’ll surely get some jobs coming in. I hope this helps.

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz Do you think it's better to have overall more work on display then than I currently do? I have held myself back from uploading simpler vignettes or character designs or prop designs because in my mind I thought only full illustrations limited to 12-15 would be better than packing it full with more....very important stuff.

  • SVS OG

    @eriberart @eriberart i’m planning to go to Bologna next year. Maybe we can all meet up!

  • SVS OG

    @Nathalie-Kranich hmm... this is a very complex question. If you have a lot of work but most of them are not there yet or not relevant to your target market, then I’d say keep it small but if most of your work is good, I don’t see the harm of posting more. If you have vignettes telling a story and in good quality, add them but I’d discourage including character/prop designs in your children’s book portfolio. Perhaps place them in a separate tab.

    Currently, your portfolio is lacking in kid diversity and sequential illustrations. So I’d really recommend working on those. There’s really no harm even if you add 20 new pieces as long as they adress the things your lacking.

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz Yes that would be awesome!

  • @eriberart oh no. I was hoping to hear more from you about LBF.

  • @xin-li A lot of publishers have pulled out of going, including all the US ones, and Macmillan UK and Hachette UK. If it does go ahead it will be very empty... on the bright side maybe the people who are there will have more time to see illustrators 😁

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