Artist Tips: Create multiple portfolios for different industries
Creating multiple portfolios for different industries is a great way to test out which market responds better to your work. For graphic designers and illustrators: you probably should create a professional industry portfolio and continue developing another portfolio just dedicated to illustration work. I would highly recommend this!
Because most of the time companies will only want to see samples of work related to the specific job you are applying for. If you are trying to get work in the advertising/digital marketing space, make sure you have work to reflect that industry and vice versa. Or for a game artist or concept artist– make sure you are showing portfolio pieces that are specific to that industry.
Even if you want to highlight and include certain work in your portfolio, it may not be relevant to what companies want to see. So consider that thought. You should also try to keep your portfolio focused, even if it is only a few pieces of good work. Quality of work is always better than the quantity of work.
It can be a really confusing time being a young artist or finding a career path that’s suited for you and something that you can see yourself doing for the next year, or maybe 3-5 years down the road. Or maybe you are switching career paths? I always say that having experience working for a company is never wasted. It could be a great learning opportunity while you figure out what you want to do. Figuring out what you are truly passionate about may take some time and evolution as an artist. Whatever path you walk in, walk with intention. Set some goals for the next year or two and build a career strategy that you can evolve into. Be realistic as to what kind of experience can help build your career.
Most companies will look for experience in your resume for the position you are applying for. Its hard to break out in an industry that you don’t have any experience in, but there are places to find short term projects and experiences that you can build along the way. Having at least 1-2 years of experience doing projects or entry level work is a good place to start, or even finding an internship for a few months or working with a startup with a smaller budget.
Do some research in market trends and look at the industry you want to get work in and ask:
Who are the top companies out there?
What work do these companies want to see in a candidate’s portfolio?
What are some things I can ask industry experts for advice?
Who are the top candidates in this industry and what can you learn from their work that you can apply to your own discipline?
What are some of the things I like to do? What are some of my hobbies? How can I merge my passion into a career path that I like? Are there any companies that reflect that lifestyle?
Another pro tip:
Look at job descriptions of companies, observe the skills you need to master and gain experience from.
Find people who work in the companies you like on LinkedIn and look up their portfolios to see what you can learn from their work.
More on how to reach out to professionals and starting conversations on LinkedIn in another post and video.
Some of the places I would start looking for projects:
Creative Hotlist www.creativehotlist.com
Craigslist, checking out the Creative Gigs section for the city you live in, maybe there are smaller companies or independent business owners who have smaller budgets to work with.
Working with or helping a small company locally that may not have a big budget but can offer you some experience and useful industry knowledge you can learn from.
When I first started out as a graphic designer and trying to find work with companies, I created a portfolio specifically for the industry that I wanted to work in. And then I kept a personal art blog while I was studying for my Masters degree in Visual Development. More on that here
Artists Tips: How Many Portfolios should I create and what industries can I find work?
Are you an artist? Maker? Creative? You too can create a shop on Redbubble! There’s never been a better time than now to capitalize on this artist revolution! There are quite a few online print on demand sites that lets artists create free shops without having to maintain the logistics of creating a website or buying product inventory. The time is now to create the kind of work you want to create and generate some passive income for yourself!
“Setting up a Redbubble shop can be a great way to build your work online presence and to connect with new people.”
I found that I’ve gained a ton of visibility online from creating a Redbubble shop, and was even invited to do a hand lettering workshop back in 2017 for their 10th birthday party in San Francisco! I find that I continue to explore my process and my art is an ever-evolving thing on its own. I had a full-time career as a graphic designer and illustrator, and I’ve also worked with companies like Salesforce, Hasbro Studios, and Skechers in the last few years. (Check out more of that work here on my Behance profile). But the thing that continues to inspire me and brings me joy is being able to freely create my art. And that’s what I’ve done in the last two years since I’ve opened up a Redbubble shop. To have something to create on its own without having to work for clients is truly worth it, and knowing that I can make money from my creations is even cooler!
Follow these steps to sell your work on Redbubble and live your best artist life.
Create a Redbubble Shop
Signing up for a free Redbubble account is easy enough. Don’t forget to confirm your necessary account details so you can be paid
Set up your shop profile
Upload a header that showcases your work, along with a profile or logo picture so that people can easily recognize you. Utilize the bio description to let people know who you are and link to your social links and website. You can check out my shop to get an example.
Create collections for your work based on themes or different categories of your work. Or if you don’t have a collection of work, this would be a great way to start creating work. You can also check out other artist shops on Redbubble to get an idea of how they are setting up their shops. Shops that fall into niche markets do really well and they can be based on current trends or popular culture. Setting up a Redbubble shop can be a great way to build your work online presence and to connect with new people.
How do you even hone in and figure out your personal artist brand? First, think of the work you are producing or the kind of work you want to produce. Then, think of who may want to buy your work on products. It may help to figure out a target audience and to also do some competitive analysis online. See what’s trending. Find design trends in the home decor space, or maybe even in the world of comics or in the media? I focus my work on boho trends, festival goers and people who love the 70s tie-dye hippie era mixed in with the modern hippie trends. I create what I want to wear or want to have in my space to make things beautiful.
Upload Your First Design
The best file sizes to upload should have a high resolution, at least 6500 px at 300dpi if you’re wanting to upload to larger products like duvet covers and tapestries. Bigger is better for quick, one-time uploads, then you can click on each individual product to edit accordingly. Also, it’s really important to design and save files from Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.I’ve been a long time user of Adobe software and I can’t stress enough the value of having a subscription. There a ton of lesser value design software but I love using Adobe software, and if you want to be a professional artist or designer, getting the professional tools can only help you in the long run.
“Set aside some time during the week and set some realistic goals.”
Promote on Social Media
After you’ve uploaded your design onto Redbubble, I typically like to go to my shop and screen shot some of the mock-ups with my design on it. You can then either transfer these to your mobile device via dropbox or email,,upload to the social media channel of your choice! You can also check out the Redbubble Blog for product templates for mocking up your design!
Set aside some time during the week and set some realistic goals. If you have a full-time or part-time job, figure out how much time you can dedicate to creating work during the week. Can you upload a new piece of work daily? Or twice a week? Or once a week? Set weekly goals so that you can stay consistent and also so your followers will know when to expect new work from you. Creating work daily or weekly can also help with figuring out your style of art, and helps with trial and error so that you can perfect your work.
Create Journal Entries on Your Redbubble Shop
This is a great way to talk about your process or to show some behind the scenes work! People love reading and looking at processes. Where did you come up with the idea and how did you arrive to the final piece? Or maybe you have other places you have your work or want to promote other art? Whatever you want to use the Journal for, treat it as a blog and a great space for people to get to know you! Check out some of the things I’ve written in my Journal.
I get quite a few emails on Linkedin from students who just graduated or people switching careers from a full time job to go completely freelance, my whole career and resume on my profile has been freelance. Except for maybe a few places I’ve worked long term. Many people wonder how I’ve managed to find work and the answer I’m going to give you is that I had to put it in a lot of effort looking for work. When I graduated in 2013 from Grad school, I found that there wasn’t a lot of support for job placement.
What I did looking for work, ended up working for me. It wasn’t an easy process but I literally spent two-three hours a day looking for work online and calling recruiters. I mean I hustled! And I stayed consistent and persistent and I wouldn’t let anything bring me down, I learned how to pick myself up when the going got rough and learned to bounce back. I kept moving forward and trying new things. If one thing didn’t work, I tried a new strategy and I stayed in a positive mindset.
But before I decided to look for work, I got really clear about what kind of work I wanted to do and focused on the environment and company I wanted to work with. Visualize where you want to be.
You have to be willing to put yourself out there and tell people what you do.
Here’s what I did to put myself out there:
I signed up with a bunch of creative recruitment agencies, there’s quite a few out there. My personal favorite : 24Seven Inc Los Angeles, they found me some of the best jobs and companies to work with. Which included landing a short animated commercial project at Skechers USA in Manhattan Beach and a short two day project at WME in Beverly Hills. I also signed up with Creative Circle, The Creative Group, and Apple One (Which sometimes they have graphic design jobs.)
I put my portfolio up everywhere there was an online community. I have smaller versions of my portfolio on Coroflot, Carbonmade, Behance, and Freelanced.com. I even made a Tumblr and Facebook Page to get my stuff out there and to put out a presence online. I guarantee you somewhere down the road people will find your work online that may need your services. I even posted ads on Craiglist and occasionally found work on Craigslist. Luckily people have been finding my work online and that’s how I get some freelance opportunities.
I went out and attended networking events and mixers constantly! I brought my business cards where ever I went and treated every moment as an opportunity to meet people that may be working in the industry I wanted to be in and asked a lot of questions! You never know who you’re going to meet or who you happen to be randomly talking to – you may just vibe with them and want to help you along the way. I also went to events where there were lots of recruiters and I also got in touch with them and sent over my resume. I suggest looking on Eventbrite for event happenings every week, I also suggest Network after Work and the Ad Society LA – were my favorite networking events to attend, its all going to be dependent on the city you live.
I always say: Keep creating opportunities for yourself and Stay Positive! It can be frustrating looking for work.
Create an elevator pitch for yourself. Who are you? What differentiates you from the crowd? What is a unique trait or skill set that you have that makes you unique? Craft something unique and clever that you can talk about yourself and what you do to get other people’s attention.
Work on your art or designs constantly and stay in the habit of regularly updating your work online. Be consistent. If you want to target only a certain market than cater your portfolio towards that. But I look for both graphic design and illustration jobs because I like both. I found that people who wanted to hire me on projects was because I draw a lot of girl characters and my style is adaptable. I’m not your typical artist where I stick with one style, but I like the exploration and variety of drawing in different styles. You have to figure out what’s going to work for you and focus on that, and hopefully you can find work through what you have in your portfolio.
Make sure you are on social media! I’ve had people also find my work through instagram, twitter, and Angel.co, Society6 and Dribbble. I’ve even had people reach out through Linkedin messaging and my new favorite a business networking app called Shapr. (I’m resourceful)
Follow up on your contacts. Make sure you send them an email, a text or a call on the phone to let them know that you are still looking for work or are still interested- and this applies to recruiters, people you’ve worked with at companies, people you meet at networking events. Find a way to stay in contact and keep the communication open.
Good luck out there and don’t give up!
Anyway, I hope this helped you in some way! If you have any questions please feel free to shoot me any questions through email! This article was originally published on Linkedin.
As an artist, I’ve been very retrospective of the life I’ve led and the life that I am continually living. Before I studied art and animation I had always been a writer. I had always kept a journal of my day to day living for as long as I can remember. The writing was my solace and a time to gather my thoughts and to make sense of the world around me. Mainly I was interested in people, relationships, observing the details that made people who they were. My love of reading books also allowed me to escape and to get lost in these stories, my imagination would then fill in the blanks.
I was thinking about where I was a year ago today, still struggling to finish my thesis project for grad school and doing freelance jobs that I wasn’t too fond of. I worked different odd jobs here and there in LA like sales jobs, small design jobs, one children’s book project gig, some press junkets BS gig and I tutored one student part time at Otis College. I HUSTLED to get my bills paid.
Last July and August of 2014 through the first week of September that I dedicated finishing my thesis project for grad school and dedicated those two and a half months working on it day in and out on a small 10.5 screen tablet fujitsu that I found on craigslist that I drew on and I went and worked at a different cafe everyday. I was up early everyday, I was restless, I couldn’t sleep. I had an internal clock that wouldn’t leave me alone. I HAD to finish… there was no other way. Diligence paid off. And soon I was done and as soon as I declared being done… many companies I had applied to started calling me back. I started getting a ton of interviews with different companies.
By October I started freelancing again. Then I had a medical condition I had to take care of through surgery and I spent the next 9 weeks recuperating on my grandparent’s couch in San Diego through November. I was lucky enough that I found a start-up gig in November that allowed me to work from home on my laptop while I got better. It was no cakewalk, I had never felt so crappy with my health as I did then. During the 3rd week I was recuperating, I had low blood pressure and almost passed out. I hid my crappy health from everyone except my family. I had never spent so much sleeping in those 2.5 months as I did. And I’m not the kind of person who sleeps early and neither sleeps in too late, I’m comfortable with 5 or 6 hours a night. But by November I had gotten a gig at WME in Beverly Hills for a few days to do some in house character illustration work that I completely enjoyed and it helped bring my spirits up when I needed it. It reminded me of what I love doing the most. Looking back at this last year, I’m thankful for what I’ve learned, the experiences I’ve had, and the people I met colored this landscape.
And I think about this year… I’m sort of in a similar but different boat. I’m still freelancing – but getting better gigs. I’ve learned that summer is the slowest time in LA to freelance – companies are on hiatus or out having some kind of summer vacation. I’m in a similar boat this year like last because I am working on what was once my thesis project and now an Animation project that I’m trying to pitch to different studios. I’m so glad I stuck with finishing it last year–that no matter what I persevered and I finished it. And I know I will somehow see this project through, I’ve already committed to seeing this through no matter what the outcome– at least I can say I tried. I’m not the type of person to ever give up especially when i am completely passionate about a project.
I am a gypsy– because I have no permanent home and I am constantly on the move, I’ve moved out of the house that I used to rent a room in since last year in West LA. And quite recently, I packed up all my stuff into storage– To once again be a gypsy. To save money I am living with my family in SD and traveling up to LA once a week to freelance with a company that I have freelanced with since December of 2014. Half the week I am working on my animation project “Northstar Warrior” in San Diego.
Excited because the project is moving… I have a few friends and people I know that I went to school with, are helping out for free and wanting to be a part of something. The collaboration has been the key thing to push this project further along. Any smart person knows that one person can’t do it alone– not without a team of amazing artists and creatives who are willing and able to provide support and encouragement. Having my core group of friends and colleagues to provide this support has been so beneficial and I am so grateful– and it’s a testament that this project has the potential to be something. It could be something amazing.
I think about all the things I’ve sacrificed the last two years working on this project. One: sacrificing raising my kid and allowing my ex-husband to take on the responsibility. Two: My time, energy, effort… spending lots of time alone to work on this… was never the life I wanted to have. Three: Not having much of a social and dating life, I haven’t kept in touch with a lot of friends through this process. Its been hard. But sacrificing myself for the love and passion for a project is the most beautiful thing in the world.
At the end of the day you have to do what you’re passionate about even if it means sacrificing a piece of yourself for the bigger picture. Otherwise you can live a very unhappy life.
Hi, I’m Diane
I am a hand lettering artist and digital tie-dye pattern maker! I also create digital tie-dye Photoshop brushes!