Importance of a Portfolio/Reel

A resume, cover letter or artist statement are very informative elements, but your art and design work is the undeniable proof of your creative capabilities. Often, the best way for an art director or curator to evaluate you is to start with your portfolio or motion reel before anything else. 

What is a Portfolio? 

Portfolios come in many forms. A traditional portfolio is a large-format binder with printed reproductions of artwork, and this version is still relevant today. In some applications, a digital PDF is required. But the most popular type of portfolio is an online website which has many advantages.  Websites are easy to share, update, and provide viewers with a non-linear experience. While Instagram and social media are effective promotional tools for artists and designers, these forms typically don’t replace a proper portfolio experience.

What is a Demo Reel? 

A demo reel is a 1-2 minute movie featuring several short clips that represent your best motion-based work. Online video platforms such as Vimeo and YouTube provide directors convenient access whether viewed on desktop or mobile. Full length videos should not be mistaken as a demo reel. Pro tip: Demo reel music soundtracks should be considered cautiously since it can distract from the actual work. Many directors claim to turn off the sound if there is music. 

Curating Your Work 

Employers and curators are very busy people. Their initial review of artist applications is fast-paced, looking for relevant work that meets their needs and rejecting those that are not a good fit. This is all the more reason to give reviewers exactly what they’re looking for.

Always consider the work of the organization to to inform how you curate your own work. Display your highest quality and most relevant work to provide the best first impression. Pro tip: Less is more! Six to twelve pieces can be good enough to earn an interview. Remember that last impressions can be as important as first impressions, begin strong and end strong with your best work. 

Portfolio Platforms

Portfolio platforms such as RISD Portfolios, powered by Adobe, offer a community of like-minded artists and designers. While these platforms are not customizable, they serve as a valuable promotional tool, by directing employers and art organizations to your work. 

Explore RISD Portfolios

Registering a domain name is considered to be a professional move and highly recommended for Seniors and recent graduates. A custom URL is easy to remember and the site can be customized to the unique vision of the artist or designer. Not a coder? No problem. There are many website building platforms that make it easy for you to create your own customized website. Pro tip: Many artist graduates maintain a site on a community platform for promotional purposes with a link to their custom website to exploit the benefits of both experiences. 

​Creating Your Portfolio

Learn all about Portfolios.

Creating Your Demo Reel

Learn all about Demo Reels.