Tips on building an animation or digital artist portfolio

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We are animators and digital artists where we land jobs 90% based on our portfolio. So, let’s discuss the ways to get our portfolio seen by art directors or animation directors! As usual, this post is written from my professional experience as an animator/digital artist in Singapore.

  1. Build it now
    • Don’t wait till graduation or when you have more work to show.
    • Instead, create an online portfolio with whatever you have. Fake it till you make it.
    • If it’s too little, then challenge yourself to fill it up with great work (after you’ve started an online portfolio!).
    • If it’s plenty, compare with professional and see your quality matches up. If it doesn’t, challenge yourself to become better and in time match up to the professionals
    • Another great thing about starting an online portfolio early is that you don’t have to make “extra” effort if you find yourself graduating and need a portfolio site.
    • Commit to building your online portfolio progressively and you’ll always be ready for opportunities
  2. Your own Online Portfolio Website
    • Hosting your own website is a great idea because it shows that you are serious about promoting yourself as a professional artist.
    • Your work and contact information should take priority.
    • It’s tempting to have an “About me” page and write an essay on your progress as an artist, but I recommend not write too much about yourself because when worded wrongly (even correctly), it’s easy to come across as having a huge ego even though it may be far from the truth.
    • With regards to choosing a website domain name, if you’re going to promote yourself as a business, I think it’s a great idea to simply go with your name, for example: www.obiwan-kenobi.com
    • As an extra note, choose one that you know will last a lifetime and don’t keep changing it. You’ll end up having to re-print your business cards, update all the freelance job portal listings, your social media, your LinkedIn etc. Avoid that.
    • It’s actually inexpensive these days and you can use services like SquareSpace to easily create beautiful sites just by drag-n-drop
  3. Your portfolio on Art Portfolio Websites
    • Some example art sites out there are CGPortfolio, ArtStation, DrawCrowd, DeviantArt etc.
    • Great: Easy to set up and mostly free
    • Not so great: Sometimes comes with ads
    • Your portfolio layout / presentation isn’t highly customisable and looks like everybody else’s
    • Good to have your work there on top of having your own site
    • Sometimes these sites shutdown and your entire portfolio disappears in a poof.
  4. Forums / Communities
    • Involving yourself in an art community can serve as good motivation and inspiration
    • It sometimes can be a distraction if you spend way to much time exchanging pointers with other artists
    • Reach out to a mentor or a like-minded and driven peer. Artists are really nice people.
    • Some people feel a disconnect when engaging in online art communities, in that case, you can try reaching out to your local art community where you can actually physically hangout with other artists to exchange pointers.
    • Check out what other great artists are creating, be inspired, don’t forget to share your work and share your knowledge.

Here are all the tips I have for now! Hope this helps some students who are serious about animation as a career. Cheers!

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