Question & Answers
BI: I’d love to know what type of work (and how much work) to include in your portfolio when submitting to art agents.
NW: I would suggest 20 strong mini collections. You want to have enough to show most or all of the following:
That you can consistently product great art
You have a unique or recognisable style (this doesn’t have to be Earth shatteringly new or distinctive but you don’t want your art to feel common or like something we’ve all seen billion times already)
Art that fits within the agency (does your style sit well with the other artists without directly competing with someone already on their books. Does your art fit with the type of clients this agent works with? Do some investigating and look at the products and companies they have gotten work with/on for the current artists)
Art which shows you add value/fill a gap for the agency (one they need filling)
You might also find these interviews with agents Brenda Manley and Lacey helpful:
BI: Do they want to see pattern collections? Mockups? Positional prints? Do you include a variety of subjects like Christmas, florals, animals etc.
NW: Show your best work. If that is a variety of patterns and placements, show a variety. If you are able to do both well you can appeal to more clients but personally I believe if you can do one you can learn to do the other with a little help, so I recommend doing that. Mockups can be used sparingly if you feel they help showcase the work but I wouldn’t spend time going out of my way to create them unless you are already good at doing them. A digital cookbook is a nice way to introduce yourself to an agent, showing a selection of your work with a little text about yourself, how you work, where you work… You can organise this by sections such as florals, Christmas etc or by collections. Mock-ups work well in a look book as a way of breaking up the pages and keeping it interesting.
If you don’t have a lot of work yet, you can still introduce yourself to an agent and make it clear that you are still honing your craft and working hard on creating fantastic art but you wanted to introduce yourself and let them know you’d love to be considered for representation in the future. Then follow up in 4-6 months time. Include links to your instagram so they can follow you. You could also take the opportunity to ask if you can add them to your newsletter.
BI: If you have any links to portfolio examples (so I can see how the work is presented) that would be amazing too!
Here are some examples of Look Books:
Portfolios (one is dived into categories, the other shows a recognisable style):
GK: I made lot of patterns in past but never approached any company. Is it ok to include those in my current portfolio. Can I make a presentation sheet of my earlier patterns and approach relevant clients?
NW: Yes absolutely! It’s a good idea to do an art inventory - take stock of the type of art you have, for example do you have lots of Christmas, lots of pattern or lots of placement prints? Then decide which clients you’d like to approach with each group of relevant art. As you are placing your designs new and older, into presentation sheets you may find that some is better than others. That’s ok, take the opportunity to tweak these designs so they are as great as your latest work. Try to set yourself a deadline or timeline for doing this so you don’t endlessly keep tweaking and obsessing over any one design.
GK: While approaching clients, is presentation sheet enough Or should I make a separate portfolio presentation video with lot of mock ups and descriptions and include the link of it in the mail?
NW: A presentation sheet for each mini collection or individual design is more than enough. Send a few of these at a time. I find it most effective to create a low resolution pdf of a group of presentation sheets organised my theme. For example, New Art, Florals, Kids Art… If you are introducing yourself to a client for the first time, you may chose to create a separate portfolio or look book with mockups included. You could also include some mockups in the presentation sheets you submit but be sure to:
1 - make sure the products you show are relevant to the client
2 - make sure the mockup actually enhances the design and allows it to shine
It is also great to have a website in place when you reach out to clients so they can find out a little more about you if they wish. It can be very simple: homepage, about, contact.
Critique of 2 collections:
NW: The first mini collection is great. Really great elements and overall execution of the design and pattern is strong. The limited colour palette is very striking.
I think the illustrations and layout of your second mini collection is great but the colours could be tweaked a little lend them more to the kids market making it a little more cheerful. For example a lighter shade of the teal background or if keeping the darker background popping in one more juvenile shade. This of course would depend on where you would like to submit this artwork. For example, If you are going or mass appeal you might want to have soft and bright shades or bright and punchy shades. For example George. See how the lighter blue lifts the colour palette and makes it feel young:
However if you have a more niche company like Eeboo in mind, they have a quirky approach to colours and tend to have less conventional styles and colours on their products. The best thing to do is look at the products the people you want to work with have and see what works for them.
Art Critique of the following
NW: Your designs are always really packed with lots of beautiful motifs and or characters, making them a real feast for the eyes. This also gives an art director a sense that they are really getting value for money and allows them to think of all the different ways they can extract elements from your design to use in other areas for example a card company may create a whole set of placement graphics from your one kitchen illustration piece.
You also have a distinctive style and colour sensibility. If I am scrolling through Instagram and your art comes up I can guess that it is yours before I see your name.
J: I created the drawings on the black paper. How can I present those pieces in the Blueprint? I'm afraid that the black background less appealing to the buyers.
NW: The black background is very striking and could work wall for greeting cards, notebook covers and wall art. With the advancing in printing technology, printing black backgrounds with intricate details as you have them won’t be a problem for digital printers so I wouldn’t worry.