Build your art portfolio

If you want to work in the art department in film and TV, it’s essential to have a portfolio that shows off your abilities. This can be in different forms:

  • Physical examples of your work – sketches on paper, canvases, photographs – well presented in an artist’s case
  • A website
  • A video showreel with clips or stills of projects you’ve worked on

You will be hired on the basis of the skill and creativity that you can demonstrate in your portfolio, so it’s very important to get this right.

When you meet an art director or designer for interview, they will be seeing others too. Be confident in your portfolio, listen to what they are saying and be enthusiastic. Be memorable. The more skills you have and you can demonstrate, the better. Your friends may be your competition for work; be better than them.

Tips for creating a physical art portfolio

  1. Demonstrate a range of different skills. Include technical drawing – both computer-aided design (using software such as Vectorworks and SketchUp) and hand draughting, concept artwork, model-making, graphic design, photography and so on.
  2. Include images from a range of art department activities – set design, storyboards, graphics, prop construction.
  3. Take good quality photographs of 3D art, productions for which you have worked or work that’s too large to fit into the artist’s case.
  4. Present your sketch books to show working through the design process from research, design development and concept art.
  5. Put the work that is most relevant to the production at the start. Focus on the skills the employer is most likely to need.
  6. Only include the things you are most proficient at. Don’t include poor or substandard examples, even if they are the only ones you have. Show what you’re good at, not what you’re bad at.
  7. Use good quality, clean paper. Think carefully about how everything is laid out – don’t have more than two or three individual images on a page. Make sure everything is stuck down properly.

Tips for creating a website portfolio or showreel

  1. If you are making a showreel, put your very best work first. An employer or admissions tutor is likely to have seen many showreels already on the day they see yours. You need to grab their attention within the first 30 seconds. Don’t leave the best to last, as the employer may give up before they get to it.
  2. Think quality more than quantity. Include your very best work.
  3. Remember, the person looking at your showreel may be looking at it without you, so use text to explain what things are.
  4. If you’re creating a website, keep the navigation clean and simple and the site look minimalist. This is especially important for an art portfolio, as you don’t want anything to distract from your work or make it look messy.
  5. If you’re showing work from a collaborative project, be clear about what is your contribution. This can be as simple as a line of text on the graphic, video or screenshot.
  6. Ensure your portfolio works on a variety of screen sizes, devices and browsers. If you’ve made it on a desktop, check it still looks good on mobile. If you use Safari, don’t forget to test it in Chrome, for example.
  7. Don’t put in work that isn’t yours.
  8. Include a short bio with information about you and your experience.
  9. Put in your full contact details. If you have a full UK driving licence and a passport, state that you have them too.

Where to digitally host your portfolio or showreel

We recommend that you host your portfolio on one of the following sites:

Adobe Portfolio
You can showcase your work in a full portfolio website or create a single-page website here. Available as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plan.

ArtStation
You can host your portfolio and showreel here. The site also has a jobs listings board including from major games companies. Free to use.

Portfoliobox
A portfolio website for creatives. There’s a free version available, which offers the ability to host 30 images and 10 pages and has a 0% commission e-commerce.

Wordpress
There’s a free version with up to 3GB of storage space. Other paid plans are available.

You can host your showreel on the following sites:

Vimeo
A video hosting site and video player. Offers a free package called “Vimeo Basic”.

YouTube
Free video sharing platform. (Less of a professional sheen or reputation than Vimeo, but widely used.)

How should I share my portfolio?

When you write a CV or covering letter, put in the link to your website or showreel.

Include a link on your business cards or in the bio of any social media accounts that you use strictly for professional purposes. Also, include a link to your professional social media accounts from your portfolio page.

If you have a physical portfolio, take it with you when you have an interview. Or if you contact designers and they agree to meet you, always take your portfolio along.