Monday, September 20, 2010

Creating an Award Winning Portfolio - Part 1: Visual Vocabulary

This weekend I presented tips for creating an award winning portfolio at our SCBWI conference.  I will share the session over the next week in a blog series.  I hope you enjoy them!

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A basic portfolio for the children's book market is made up of 10-15 of your best images of children, families and animals. There should be at least one series of narrative art with the same character.

An award-winning portfolio includes the above but also tells compelling stories with a unique visual vocabulary, fills a niche in the market and showcases a mastery of skill.

Building a Visual Vocabulary


Learn to craft a consistent world for your audience, follow a visual language that you create and stick to those rules.

Never copy a style or follow a trend, find your own way and stand out from the masses.

Master one or two mediums, divide them into sections in your portfolio.

Your style isn't something you need to develop, it is your unique way of expressing yourself visually.  It's like handwriting, it takes some practice but it's something that comes naturally to you over time.

Three portfolios that showcase a strong visual vocabulary:
Holli Conger
Tracy Bishop
Cassandra Allen

Pop Quiz:

What mediums can you use quickly and get consistent results?

Use 5 words to describe your artwork.

Dig Deeper:

Who are your artistic influences?

Name one book you wish you had illustrated and why?

Use these questions to narrow down your focus.

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