Tuesday 30 September 2014

Creating A Children’s Picture Book Illustration Portfolio - Where to Start? - Part 1

Baby Bouncer Children's Picture Book Art Claire O'Brien

I finished this illustration this week and added it to my portfolio.  I am hesitant to call my portfolio a ‘children’s picture book illustration portfolio’ at this moment in time, not because I am not yet published, but because I don’t think it quite fits the bill.  So how do you create a children’s picture book illustration portfolio?  Where do you start? 

Fantasy and Children’s Book illustrator Kiri Østergaard Leonard, has an excellent checklist for illustration graduates:

Number 1 on her list is ‘Build a portfolio of 6 - 12 of your best pieces’.  This gives importance to quantity and quality.  If you have a large quantity of work it suggests that you are more prolific, practised, and perhaps, speedy.  She suggests a higher limit of 12 pieces, any more than that would be tedious for an art director or editor to look through.  Regardless of how many pieces of work are in your portfolio, if it doesn’t contain anything but your highest quality of work then it will be judged on the weakest piece.  Rather than putting in everything that you have ever done in your portfolio put in only your best pieces, 6 at the least.

How do you know what your best work is?  Ultimately you want to aim for your work to be at industry standard, that is, at the same artistic and technical quality as, or better than, children’s book illustration that is currently being published.  If, like me, you are currently unpublished then your aim should be to make better work than that in your existing portfolio. Try to identify what areas you can fix and improve upon; storytelling, anatomy, perspective, tone, colour, etc?  

In regards to my own portfolio, I need to work on all these areas but most importantly I need to address the image contents, are they fit for purpose?  Could you imagine them in a children’s picture book?  I will address this in my next blog post, so join this blog or follow me on Google + to get notification of when it’s posted.