From the Comics 2000 Yahoo Group

Here’s my response to someone about portfolio stuff.

> Hi,
> This year will be my first visit to the comics festival in Bristol. I’m
> putting together some artwork to show around to possible employers and I need a
> little advice if you don’t mind.
> 1) Does anybody know who will be looking at portfolios with the intention of
> hiring people for work?

In my experience, it is incredibly unlikely that a first portfolio review will lead to work (I have a feeling that Inaki Miranda is the exception to that rule) it’s far better to think of it as a chance to meet different editors/artists and get your name and work known.

> 2) Will portfolio sessions be on for more than one day? I have far to travel
> and may need to stay overnight if they’re not on the same day.


> 3) How much work is it best to take to show for the following areas?
> a) Pinups for cover work.
> b) Sequential pages, (pencils.)
> c) Character designs/concept art.
> d) Colouring

Depends on what you’re trying to sell. The Americans seem to prefer it that, for example, if you’re wanting work as a penciller to only show pencils. Warhammer/2000AD are a lot more flexible – pencils + inks is fine. If you want work as a cover artists only show covers – but they’d better be bloody good, cus most cover artists these days are phenominal (covers pay better and artists are given longer to do them, plus they tend to assign the really hot guys to do them). About 3 pages of sequential stuff is usually enough, preferebly a complete story showing a variety of things happening – for example, if it’s Dredd make sure you’ve got some explosions, but, more importantly, make sure you’ve got Dredd walking around talking to people as well – show you can do the slow stuff cus it’s usually harder. I wouldn’t bother with character design/concept art as it’s unlikely that they’ll be interested in that unless your sequential stuff has already shown your genius.

> 4) Do potential employers prefer to see characters specific to their company
> in a portfolio, or are original characters as accepted? For example would it
> be ill advised to show Spiderman artwork, or original characters created by
> myself, rather than Judge Dredd to 2000AD?

If you can do it show specific stuff. If not, try and be clever, do a strip featuring Batman and Dredd. Or one with Batman/Spider-Man and Dredd. In a pub. Talking.

> 5) Following on from that question is it best to concentrate on one company
> with a portfolio, or have a general selection of characters and styles for all
> to see?

No harm in having a selection – but make sure as you approach each company to put theirs to the front of the portfolio. If they ask (don’t force it on them) then you can show them the rest.

> 6) Does size matter? Will A4 high quality prints be more convenient than a
> larger folder of original paintings and drawings for the reviewer. (A4 would be
> easier for me to carry around of course.)

A4 is prolly fine for inked work. Pencils I’m not sure about, but I’d bring some A4 photocopies and A3 photocopies folded.

Also: vitally important: make sure you have photocopies of everything you’ve got just in case someone is interested – if they’re interested they’ll usually ask.

> If anybody who has ever professionally reviewed portfolios, or has had their
> portfolio reviewed from previous years at Bristol, (or anywhere else,) could
> help me out this would be greatly appreciated.

I’ve been at both ends, so here’s some general advice:

Show only your best/most recent work.

Never show anything that’s incomplete (“Oh, I haven’t finished this” does not sound professional).

Don’t bother arguing with an editor/artist looking at your work – try and take both compliments and criticism with good grace.

Artists cannot hire you, but can help – so if an editor isn’t available show your artwork to an artist anyway – if it’s really impressesive they’ll either a) ask for some photocopies to show to the editor or b) get rid of you as quickly as possible so that you don’t represent future competition.

If you want to draw comics, make sure you bring some comic samples.

Think of it like a job interview but with the pain of rejection ten times worse.

Get seen by as many editors as you can, sometimes it won’t be about the quality of your work but about the particular taste of an editor.

And as well as all that:

Make new friends in the queue (many of these people may end up being editors/pros/etc in the years ahead). Do work for as many small press fanzines as you can find, work you do for these guys can end up in the hands of an editor much much later – giving you a) a chance to be seen by someone you’ve never met and b) a chance to improve. And, finally, don’t think of like a sprint – think of it like a marathon.

And my own story:

I was first given the promise of a commision by Andy Diggle at the portfolio review at Dreddcon. Andy flitted through my portfolio – not really looking, damn him, but he’d already seen my work on the internet/in fanzines and generally everywhere so when we finally met face to face he knew me by name (I was too dumbstruck to say anything back, mind).

– pj

Author: PJ

Belfast based Comic Artist who won’t shut up on twitter.