Thought I'd run through the various ways I've presented my portfolio and the pros and cons.

Regular Ol' three ring binder
Pros:Cheap. Custom cover. Adjustable page count.
Cons:Feels cheap.Can get scuffed up.
Anecdote:In college I had some support materials in a drawing presentation that where in a binder where a plastic sleeve was scuffed and something had mysteriously discolored a spot on the back. The guest reviewer (nobody famous) gave me a C based on this alone. Meanwhile a girl who tied yarn onto a nail in the wall got an A for her drawing project. Love it.

Pros:Plenty of space.Cheap.Portable.
Cons: When is the client going to have time to hire you? They have to set aside the rest of their lives to look at your portfolio if you fill it up. The pages get scuffed easily. Pages are not interchangeable so a damaged page means buying an entire new one. Glossy pages make for a lot of glare in a convention setting.

Anecdote: A guy I was friends with actually filled up a monster sized Itoya portfolio with robot thumbnails and mid-sized family sedan concepts. He got a job at Massive Black. Sometimes quantity over quality works. No offense if you're reading this (which I doubt) buddy but that was obviously your tactic and it totally worked. He sold himself as a work-a-holic that was overflowing with ideas.

Leather portfolio case with zipper
Pros: Number of pages can be adjusted. Relatively portable. Artwork feels very safe. Flap for business cards. Matches your couch?
Cons: Way too expensive. You'll never use the zipper and handles seem entirely unnecessary unless you've printed your work on lead plates. Once again, the plastic sleeves create a glare in a convention environment. Binder part has a million loops so it would be a huge pain to make your own custom pages. Portfolio will want to close on you.
Anecdote: I fondly remember showing my work for the first time at Gencon and being nervous and bumbling around with that zipper. I was screaming in my head, "oh god why! Why did I zip it closed!? Must unzip before client runs away!"

Univenture thin binder
Pros:Very portable. Lots of sizes. Can insert custom front. Easy to make custom pages where there won't be shiny sleaves creating glare. This bad boy is so thin that you're forced to limit the size of your portfolio which is probably a good thing.
Cons: It's able to be so compact because of the unique binder rings. This uniqueness means that viewers often fumble with how to turn pages. Turning pages means slide then flip with this case. Viewers don't seem to mind but there's very little clearance between rings and spine so you're dealing with potential for accidental wear and tear on a very thin piece of paper. So you need to either get those little plastic rings to put on your paper and strengthen the paper or use heavier stock paper.
Also, you'll have to spend a couple of minutes after ever review resetting the pages as most viewers won't know how to move the pages back and even if they do, you pretty much have to move one page at a time.
Anecdote:I remember showing my work at Gencon and being nervous while art directors bumbled with turning the pages. I was screaming in my head, "oh god why! Why won't the pages just flip normally!? Don't give up AD! Keep trying! You'll get it! There's good artwork on the next page!"

Univenture mega binder!
Pros: You can put 11x17s in this bad boy. Artwork feels very safe. Nice for when multiple people are looking at your work at once.
Cons: It's pretty darn big. You feel like a jerk carrying around this thing on a convention floor. You'll feel tempted to carry it above your head and expose everyone to your armpits. You also can't customize the cover really. It may be a problem with AD's at smaller booths because they won't have a table to sit down at and look over the work. So they have to hold this monstrosity in their hands.

Anecdote: Last year the WotC reviewers talked a bit about how much they liked this portfolio presentation of mine. Said it was nice to see such large, high quality prints.

Pros:Custom cover. Very professional feel. Pages are hinged and lay completely flat. Very portable. Makes a good keepsake. Can have two page spreads that look amazing.
Cons:Expensive. Your paper choices are going to be more limited. Images have less impact because I didn't want to make this ungodly expensive by only printing on one side of each page.You could print so that each image is viewed individually but again this gets into that whole cost issue. It's also impossible to make any last minute adjustments to the content of your portfolio.

Anecdote: Maybe I should make this like a children's book for AD's and put flaps over every image so that they have to be viewed individually. Lift-a-flap portfolio book. Sounds awesome.

Pros: Can carry it all of the time for unexpected portfolio showing. Also doubles as toy.
Cons: You look like a douche. Artwork is too small to make any conclusions about. I'd feel like I was going to break the thing. Also you may find yourself distracted by the toy aspect of these gadgets and missing something of importance.

THE BOX portfolio(some artists have a little box with masonite or styrene mounted illustrations)
Pros: Lots of paper choices and finish choices for prints. Forces you to have a smaller sized portfolio. If you only have a small number of pieces to show you can make those few pieces feel more important this way. It's another way to express who you are by designing your box.
Cons: You've just handed the AD a box with a bunch of objects to juggle. Expectations are going to be through the roof. I'd expect gold inlay and original paintings. Your craft for the presentation has to be especially good since these are handmade.
Anecdote: Every artist I've seen do this had really high quality artwork.

Joe Slucher3 Comments