Portfolio Review Wrap-Up

Hi guys!  We had pretty good attendance for the portfolio review session, we were lucky enough to have pro illustrator Christina Wald and Pro Animator Allison Craig as well as myself there so I think everyone got a good chunk of time to discuss what they were going after with someone.  I wanted to include this on the blog for those who weren’t able to attend.


– It’s normal to have a job outside of art before you get your foot in the door.  We all do it. DOn’t let bozos make you feel bad about it, they’re not trying to do something as competitive as you are. Your life will take a different path than other people’s lives, that’s normal.  We’re different than civilians, we’re artists- this comes with the territory. Getting in is hard, but once you’re able to get in then getting more work is easier. And those same people will think you’re glamorous and will be somewhat jealous!

– Your competitors give up over time too so that thins out the herd

Where to Work

– If you want to work in television or features, you have to move because Cincinnati is not where that happens (YET- we’re working on it. But it will take a while). There are studios in NYC, LA, and Atlanta, Canada, and overseas which is a whole other thing.

– I think studios for games are more spread out, I’m not sure how many are in Cincinnati

– If you want to stay in Cincinnati, the most popular way to apply animation to a career here is working for an advertising agency or production company doing mostly motion graphics in After Effects.  There are also a few places that use character animation, such as Epipheo which is pretty big, and Flaming Medusa which is small. Most of that work is related to advertising or web videos.

To be employed, be useful

– YOU MUST DRAW. You must practice drawing even if you are doing 3D animation or other digital animation. The more skill you have, the more techniques you can use, the more you know about design, color, motion, environments, props, characters, illustration, the greater the variety of projects you can work on, the more useful you will be to your employer, and the longer they will keep you around. They prefer to pay you than to hire 4 people who can only do one thing. It’s as simple as that.

– If you can only do one style, then the minute that project is over, they’ll be done with you. That’s if they hire you in the first place instead of someone else who proves they can what you can do and more with their portfolio.

– Have your email address/phone number on your site (not only a form) !  Check your email daily! Answer inquiries quickly! Make it possible for people to talk to you so they can give you money!

Your portfolio

I got the chance to review some work and saw a few common themes:

– Portfolio sites are good, but keep stuff that is more like a personal hobby off of the site, Make your art easy to find and look at because people are lazy.

-If you’re using a blog, use tags and a tag list to keep the content searchable, so people don’t have to scroll for 20 minutes to find a sample of what they’re looking for. Again, people are lazy.

– A lot of beginner portfolios include a lot of sketches. However, employers hire you to develop sketches AND do finished product.  Have sketches, but develop them as if they were done for a professional project.  If you have some good character sketches, make a turnaround out of them, Make expression sheets, make color versions.  Design an environment that they would be in, costumes that they would wear, props they would use. Show the people looking at your work that you can work on something for a while and develop it and create finished pieces of art as well as sketches.

– Try to focus your portfolio. A lot of students have a bit of everything in there, but people need to be able to tell what you want to do, and what you’re applying for.

-If you want to be an animator, you need animation samples! Rough samples and some finished ones are fine.

– Work in different styles, include those different styles in your portfolio. Remember they’re hiring you to do their projects, and their projects could look like anything. They need to know you can adapt to anything.

-You need to alter your portfolio according to who you’re applying to.  For example, if you’re applying to a cute show, put cute stuff in and take scary stuff out. If you’re applying for a scary show, put scary stuff in, take cute stuff out.  If you practice doing different styles then you will have a range of samples to pick from.

Your resume

– We didn’t really go over resumes but keep information that could be used to discriminate against you off of the resume- for example: your gender, your age, your relationship status.  They can figure this stuff out by talking to you but they’re not supposed to use that information to make a hiring decision so don’t put it on your resume.

– Put your education information at the bottom of the resume. The most important thing that should be at the top will be your experience and skills. It’s a giveaway when someone puts their education at the top that they have no experience, because the placement shows that they haven’t figured out that people don’t care where you went to school yet ha 🙂


Stay tuned in for more meetings!  It was nice to chat, help each other out, and everyone was really nice. We want to do something like this again! We are also talking about doing a business related meeting in February so look out for that.

If you want to be added to the CAN email list or to the Cincinnati Illustrators email group, email me at cincycan@gmail.com and I’ll get you added.

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