Sunday, January 31, 2010

SCBWI Conference, Part I - The "Portfolio" Strategy

Okay, so an illustrator going to an SCBWI conference obviously wants to bring some artwork to show. The thing is, I don't have a portfolio! It's not that I'm too lazy to put one together, but it's complicated because my work is stored in multitudes of sketchbooks, and due to my working style (and preference for conserving paper), there isn't one drawing to a page which I could simply rip out and slap in a portfolio. Often I'll have many drawings on one page, and this lends itself beautifully to being scanned, cropped, and showcased on... say... an online portfolio.

Plus, nowadays, with the prevalence of internet access, it doesn't seem resourceful to divide one's attention between an online portfolio and a physical portfolio -- especially when a physical portfolio can only be viewed by one person at a time, while the alternative is available for everybody, all the time.

Of course, online portfolios aren't perfect. Not everyone carries internet access around with them, nor would they be inclined to immediately check your site anyway. As I see it, the trick is grabbing someones attention, giving them a taste of your work, and leaving them something to remember you by. I decided to accomplish this with unique, hand-drawn business cards.

These are some of the cards I drew and photographed the night before the conference. On the back, it simply says: During the conference I displayed six of these cards at a time, along with a picture book I created (A Very Special Nut). These were displayed right next to the other illustrator's portfolios, and while it may be true that I did not showcase the breadth of work as some illustrators, I certainly succeeded in standing out, which in events like this, is clearly important. Overall I'm pleased with the manner in which I presented myself and would do it again.

It's funny, because it was after I began making these cards that I remembered a book I had read many months ago, called Ignore Everybody, by Hugh MacLeod.

If it can be said that someone invented original artwork on business cards, I guess Hugh would take the honor. That's what he does, it's his thing. So did I steal his idea? I dunno. Not consciously. Bit if you're tempted to call me a thief, I have a card for you too.

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