The Art Portfolio Serves Many Purposes
It is often suggested that it is imperative for an artist to maintain an art portfolio in order to document his or her growth as an artist. Gallery owners and curators tend to expect it. An artist who presents his or her work with a well maintained art portfolio is more likely to obtain gallery representation and more apt to be included in other exhibit venues. This is due to the fact that by having a portfolio reviewers will have an idea of where the artist is going with his or her work. In other words, it is assumed that the artist is serious about his or her art if he or she takes the time to document it in a portfolio. It is also a lot easier to transport photographs of specific works rather than the work itself. That is the basic reason for having an art portfolio. However, I would like to make some points that focus on other positive reasons for maintaining an art portfolio.
The art portfolio speaks for the artist: I’ve been around long enough to know that people, in general, don’t like to speak about their talents. We tend to be humble about what we are able to do. Part of this is due to social conditioning that dictates that to state your skills or talents is a form of bragging. Thus, professionals from all fields often avoid direct discussion of that manner. Therefore, maintaining an art portfolio may very well do most of the talking for you when meeting with gallery owners, art collectors, and other interested individuals. If anything the portfolio will serve as a point of discussion-- a focus on the work itself.
The art portfolio serves as a point of reference and reflection: Maintaining an art portfolio can be a great source for future reference and reflection. With a portfolio an artist can easily observe his or her past works during the throws of the creative process. In that sense the documentation contained in the portfolio may very well serve as a point of origin for future works upon reference. The portfolio also allows an artist to reflect upon what he or she has accomplished visually-- which can come in handy when one is in a creative rut or feeling a bit unworthy to continue. Looking back on documentation of past works can be a good motivator for further exploration. It says, “This is what I’ve done. I can push it more.”.
The art portfolio can serve as documentation (your best friend) if legal issues arise concerning ownership of your art: Maintaining a portfolio that contains photographs of your past work can become a legal cannon that can blast would-be art thieves who attempt to infringe upon your protected works. It would be very hard for an infringer to claim that he or she owns the rights to the work when you possess the work or know who purchased the work AND have a portfolio to back your claim as well. Trust me, if someone tries to profit off of your creations you will want to be ‘packing’ some form of documentation. If you have one of the more expensive portfolios there will most likely be areas for you to keep other documentation as well concerning each piece-- where it has been exhibited, where it has been published, if it has been purchased-- that is represented in the portfolio. Do it!
In closing, having an art portfolio can serve an artist far more than its basic function of displaying examples of your work. A portfolio containing photographic documentation of specific works can help to make a good impression when the actual art-- paintings, sculptures, what have you-- is not available for direct viewing. However, the portfolio can also help the artist to communicate efficiently, reflect upon and reference past works, and protect ownership rights during legal disputes.
Links of Interest:
The Artist Statement
The Artist Statement… Again
Take care, Stay true,