I know I’ve written about building a strong portfolio as an undergrad before, emphasizing the importance of thorough documentation, but discussing it and putting it into practice are two very different tasks. Looking back on my development as a ceramist, I get a bit frustrated that I failed to be as attentive to my portfolio as I should have been. Ideally, I would have taken photographs of each work I crafted immediately after its completion, even if it was not the strongest piece, upload them to my desktop, and create folders for them, labeling them with the year the pieces within were created. In this way, I would have a database of sorts to look back at my progress, a bank of images that I can recall at the ready, that I can use to analyze a piece’s most successful elements on which I can continue to build. The thought of returning to old pieces and playing portfolio catch up is absolutely daunting.
However, we are supposed to be getting better and better as students and aspiring artists. Hopefully, each new piece is better than the last with the knowledge that accompanies completion. So, there’s no where else to go but up, right? So meticulous documentation starts now! No more poor quality photos with low resolution. I’ve again recruited our photography blogger, Ty Mah, to take some professional photos of my work, and what a job he did! I was so grateful for the multitude of angles and shots he took… talk about thorough.
This documentation also allows artists to keep a bit of their work long after they sell each piece. Once it leaves the studio or showroom, it quite obviously cannot be retrieved again for examination. Personally, this year, the photos allowed me to give away some of my work as Christmas presents – yes the same Christmas presents I spoke about in my last post. (Here’s hoping they stay secret to their recipients for the next few days!) But the principle remains the same. I have detailed notes regarding the forms, glaze combinations, and more of each piece that now correspond to an image of the results in the event I want to recreate them.
So, on the To Do list for next semester is:
- Take photos of the other works I created this past semester.
- Take photos of the works I create this coming semester.
- Upload them to my computer in appropriate folders.
- Choose the strongest pieces and photographs for my portfolio and website (which I can talk about next week).
Building a portfolio does not have to be back-breakingly difficult. It just takes a commitment to the pieces, which most artists already innately have. I am making that commitment now to go the extra mile. It will make the process of applying to graduate school, residency programs, and other positions that much easier if I already have an existing representation of my work, at least begun. And looking back on the bodies of work that you’ve created will be well worth it, in and of itself. Hope you enjoy these few shots of my work.