Prior to my first SCBWI conference, I was really bummed to find out that my super cool Pina Zangaro portfolio briefcase does not meet SCBWI standards. Until then, I had not put much thought into the physical way that I would be displaying my work. It turns out there are a lot of options. Here are a few:
- Screw post binders – Pina Zangaro can even imprint your name or logo on the front. Back in my college Advertising days, Pina Zangaro was the gold standard, so this is what I ultimately chose for my first conference. There is one for a range of budgets. In their sale section, I found a simple black canvas screw post binder with Pro-Archive sheet protectors.
- A completely handmade from scratch portfolio – a quick search of Pinterest brings up a whole slew of options complete with how-to instructions. This might be a great option for a crafty person who wants their portfolio to feel personal and one of a kind.
- Screw post photo albums – like these from Kolo.
- A cheap 1-inch office binder – Sounds strange, but Chris Oatley has mentioned that he uses these because they are so inexpensive he can actually give his portfolio away to someone if he wants to.
- A printed photo book – there are tons of places you can get these made online and they come in a variety of orientations, hardbound or softbound. This was my choice this year – read on and I'll explain why.
Last year, I was convinced that it was better to choose a portfolio with removable pages. I knew I would be improving it constantly and thought I would not want to reprint a photo book each time I made changes.
However, last year I spent hours sending files to be printed with special instructions, driving around town to pick up prints (or reprints if something had gone wrong or the color was not as expected) and trimming my work to fit in the sleeves. I would have spent even MORE time if I had opted for the book that requires you to mount everything on the pages. I ended up spending a lot of money on my prints and driving and I did not enjoy this process.
This year I decided that a printed photo book was the perfect solution for someone who wants to avoid all that hassle and get back to making art as quickly as possible.
I chose Blurb because they seemed to have a size and orientation that suited my purposes, but there are tons of places where you can order books like these online. Blurb has really great customer service, they had some good coupon codes and I was really happy with the way all of my images printed. All in all, it was a great experience and very hassle free. It took me less than a day to complete the layout using their website. Best of all, it showed up a day early, which is always a concern when you've waited until the last possible second to print your book. I will definitely do it again in the future.
How Many Pieces Do You Want To Include?
One downside of using a photo book as your portfolio is that most of the photo books have a minimum number of pages. It's usually about 20. You will have to figure out how to fill all 20 pages. With Blurb, one of those pages is reserved for their logo and I used another page to display my contact information. But, I ended up putting some pieces in my portfolio that I would have left out had I been in control of the number of pages. You may be able to avoid this problem by displaying some of your pieces as two page spreads, but a lot of my work is not the correct orientation for this.
Don't Make Viewers Rotate Your Book
Because I have been doing work primarily for middle grade, most of my work is portrait orientation or not the correct aspect ratio to fill a two page spread. It's best if you don't make the viewer rotate your portfolio to look at work so you will want to think about that when ordering a portfolio. If you are displaying a piece as a double page spread you will want it to be landscape orientation with the gutter where it would be in an actual book. You don't want to split your portrait orientation images down the middle to make them span two pages.
Do you have any portfolio making tips? I would love to hear them in the comments. :)