5 Portfolio Presentation Tips

I cruised down to Comic-Con, the nation’s largest comic book and pop culture convention, to get my storyboard portfolio in front of as many people as I could. I was armed with my wares—portfolio, business cards and one-sheets. Hungry for some good old schmoozing, I made my way to the portfolio review area. Scores of artists were corralled into an area designated to connect artists with employers. Eyeing the fierce competition, I wondered how was I going to set myself apart? How would the employers remember me from all the others? Following are five guidelines that I followed when I presented my work.

1. Be Aware of What You Wear
I can assure you I was not wearing a three piece suit at Comic Con. One of the perks in the commercial art industry is that your wardrobe does not have to include khakis and neckties. You still need to be aware of how you are presenting yourself. Employers will get an impression of you the moment they see you. Research the company you are interviewing for. If you see their artists adorned with piercings, tattoos and ripped jeans—it’s a good bet you can let your freak flag fly and dress like your funky self for the interview.

2. A Rock Steady Shake Gets the Gig
A firm handshake and direct eye contact will let employers know you are confident. Introduce yourself and tell them what you are there to show. My greeting usually goes, “Hi, I’m Shane Donahue and today I’d like to show you my storyboards.” From there I open my portfolio in front of them and segue into presenting my work.

3. Be Your Own Biggest Fan
You have to convince employers what you already know—you’re damn good! Don’t make excuses about your work or belittle your work. If you are unhappy with a piece in your portfolio, it shouldn’t be in there. If you don’t believe in your work, how can you expect employers to?

4. Excitement is Contagious
Give them a show. You don’t have to whip out a cane and top hat and start tap dancing, but you need to present your work enthusiastically and confidently. A well-organized portfolio is essential to an effective presentation. If you are enthusiastic about your work, the employer will gain confidence that you will be enthusiastic about working with them.

5. Follow Up and Follow-Through
After you have wowed the employer with your artistic prowess and presentation, ask for their business card. Having a successful interview is only the start of a lasting relationship. You will need to follow up with them. Just remember, no one likes a stalker. Be respectful of how often you contact them.

Nothing builds confidence like success. I walked away from the convention with several great contacts and opportunities that continue to benefit me today. It’s a tough market out there. Go in with guns blazing and show ’em what you got!