Portfolio review and agency stuff

  • Hi y'all! I'm Cris from Barcelona (Spain). I've been building a portfolio for looking for some rep. I already have been with one agency but I left it because it wasn't working for me so now I'm again on the step of sending emails.

    My goal is to work either on children's books, picture books, packaging, animation and videogames (I have a background in it). And I'm always open to new projects like stationery, pattern design, etc.

    I've narrowed my list to these agencies (and here are the points I like):

    • Bright: it is very varied and some artists I like are there.
    • Tugeau2: it is a very familiar small agency with few different artists and they are open to new kind of projects you may request.
    • Arena illustration: so many years of experience and also a small agency with less than 30 illustrators.
    • Good illustration: a familiar agency with only 54 children illustrators and a variety of projects.
    • Shannon associates: they have worked with some interesting big clients and they make a variety of projects.

    A couple literary and boutique agencies:

    • Cat bird: only 44 illustrators with different styles.
    • The cat agency: only 47 illustrators. It's a small familiar agency and some artists I like are there.

    My question here is if you may add any other agency that may be a good fit for me and if you think it would be better to focus on illustration agencies and leave aside the literary agencies or maybe try to get one literary/boutique agency and an illustration agency because I guess you get more regular jobs with literary agencies (or maybe I'm wrong).

    About my portfolio I would like you to take a look and give me some feedback because I feel I'm a bit bored of looking at it so much. Also I recently split the portfolio into illustration and characters because I found it more neat and it was too long to be together (I like to keep my portfolio at around 30 artworks).

    Thank you so so much in advance for taking the time and effort!!

  • Pro

    @cristamay Your work is wonderful! Extremely professional, the style is very honed and special, and your level of skill is sky high! I think you're going to have your choice of agency because I cannot imagine any of them turning you down. So your problem here might be, I sense a pattern of you having difficulty narrowing down what you want. And that's very important.

    Focus is your best ally! You say your goal is children's books, packaging, animation, video games, stationary or pattern design. Woah! That's not a goal, it's too wide. What do you really want to do? Like, assume you can get any job in the world, which one would you like to get? Tailor your portfolio and your choice of agency to that.

    For agents, like I said I think all of them would be lucky to have you. So you gotta start thinking, if they all say yes which one would you pick? Literary agencies don't get more jobs, it's just a different type. They typically work mostly with writers and submit manuscripts to publishers. If you wish to write your own children's books, this would be the best option for you. If not, an illustration agent would do great for you. The choice of big agency like Bright or small agency like CAT depends on your personal preference. Do you want to be in a big agency with lots of structure? Or get a more personal touch, develop a deeper working relationship with an agent? There's no right or wrong here. Personally I like a lot of structure with minimal human interaction (lol) so I went with a big agency, Astound Us.

    So yeah my advice would be to just narrow your focus, Your portfolio has soooo much stuff in it. I don't think it hurts you necessarily because all the pieces are very good, but it's just so much. You could definitely lose half of your portfolio size to create something more... bite-sized and digestible haha.. Keep in mind, many agencies like Bright for instance, only want a submission of 8-12 of your strongest pieces. That's all they need to choose. You have surely 100+ on your website, it's intense!

  • SVS OG

    @cristamay hi, Cris! Ok so i don’t know much about the visdev world but I am a bit aquainted with the illustration industry. If you want to get into children’s illustration more, you need to work on your portfolio. I think your portfolio is SEVERELY lacking in:

    1. Kids. You have a lot of character design sheets. You also have a lot of illustrations of backgrounds and inanimate objects but you lack the most important element, kids.
      Here are some of the few pieces that have kids.

    You need to make more artworks of kids of various races, shapes and sizes, doing something, interacting. Add in adults as well.

    1. Sequential illustration. You need various illustrations showing a story. Publishers love this to see how you interpret a given text and to see if you know how to draw consistent characters.

    The only sequential illustration I’ve seen so far is this:


    I think your style is amazing. I love how you draw your characters. You have a great hold on composition and color. However, I do think we can still improve your portfolio. If you have any ore questions, feel free to ask. We’d be happy to help.

  • @NessIllustration Wow! Thank you for your super nice words and such a detailed explanation.
    You are right, I always liked doing different things and I think illustration is a great way to be involved in different projects.
    My dream work-balance would be working in animation/videogames projects and books. And every now and then some little projects.
    I didn't think about all of them saying yes, so thanks for pointing it.
    About agencies, honestly it's being hard to decide between a big agency or a small one because each of them has good points.
    As you are in a big one, do they help you develop your career? Like portfolio feedback, pointing what you could improve, etc? Or do they only send you projects?

    I'll take note of everything and probably will narrow down a bit the illustration tab hehe.

  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz Hi! Thanks for your feedback!
    You're right about the sequential illustrations, I'm going to work more on that as well as adding adult characters and more interacting.
    Thank you for taking the time!

  • Pro

    @cristamay Even just animation, video games and children books are 3 very different industries that would require 3 very different portfolios. My advice would be to create a portfolio for animation and one for children's books. @Nyrryl-Cadiz is right that you could add more sequential/storytelling and more kids of different races. You do actually have already a few pieces that'll work for this, but they're getting lost because you have so much stuff. You're trying to cover your bases to attract every kind of contract, but that's a sure way to turn art directors off because they don't know what you specialize in. And they're busy people, if they have to sift through 100+ images to find the ones relevant children's books for instance, you're making it harder for them. Make a portfolio dedicated to just children's books and pick not more than 15 pieces that are showcasing your skill for this particular market. Anything else, leave it out.

    If you want to do another portfolio for animation, keep it separate. I know the struggle - I come from an animation background and worked 3 years in video games. But I do children illustration now, so I'm not including animation in my portfolio. The level of skill in the illustration world is HIGH, and to compete we have to specialize in something, become an expert in it, become a go-to artist that people think about when they need that kind of work. You can have 4+ different portfolios and look for work in all those different markets, but that's just more work for you. The power of focus is picking ONE market and be able to go in 100% in that market. That's how you'll get the furthest. And maybe in a few years once you're comfortably established in that market you can start exploring other things. That's the beauty of freelance! But at first, pick something and go all in, or you'll be spinning your wheels 24/7 and make everything more difficult for yourself than it needs to be.

    We THINK that if we're offering to do every kind of job we're more employable and will have an easier time getting work, but it's actually the opposite. People who specialize have an easier time entering their market of choice. After all if you're a children's book publisher, who would you pick between these 2 artists: the one who specializes and is an expert in children books, or the one who does animation, stationary, pattern design, vis dev, video games, packagaing, and once in a while dips her toes in children books?

  • @NessIllustration @Nyrryl-Cadiz So, it would be better to show in one tab all the children's book related stuff so they can go directly to the portfolio they are interested in.
    Do you know if it's bad to repeat illustrations in two different tabs? For example a kid character would be in the Characters tab and also in the Children's book tab. Because I'm afraid they may think I only do it to fill my website instead of keeping it organized.
    Thank you again!

  • Pro

    @cristamay Actually when I say "different portfolios" I meant entirely different websites, not just a different tab.
    But to answer your question I don't think you're in danger of anyone thinking you're just trying to fill out your website. You're in danger of them thinking you have difficulty picking pieces and trimming down the count to curate a portfolio...

    I used to have a "watercolors" tab and a "commissioned portraits" tab and a "prop design" tab for all my items and icons. It hurt my heart but I cut them all out. I still think they're some of my best work, but they're just not relevant. There was way too much stuff in my portfolio and I had to pick, so I picked children illustration and cut out all the rest. I draw 100+ new pieces every year for work, but only one or 2 of those end up making the cut for my portfolio. Cause the truth is not all your work should be there.

    By the way when you apply to an agent, typically you send in 8-12 single images, and if they like your work they will ask you to submit all your body of work for a final review to see if they really sign you or not. So you still have a chance to show all your work. Just not in your portfolio. Your portfolio should be a curated collection that sells your services to a SPECIFIC client.

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