Spruce up Your Portfolio - Even if you've never had clients before | Sandra Mejia | Skillshare

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Spruce up Your Portfolio - Even if you've never had clients before

teacher avatar Sandra Mejia, Illustrator + Pattern Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      The Market


    • 4.

      Your Artwork


    • 5.

      The Portfolio


    • 6.

      Solving the Brief


    • 7.

      Creating the Mockup Sheet


    • 8.

      Creating the Printed Sheet


    • 9.

      Show your Portfolio


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About This Class


In this class I will share with you the technique that I use to understand the market and what companies are selling, how I give myself my own briefs and how you can use this technique to create your own collections (even if you´ve never had clients before), and how I create mockup sheets and the printed presentation sheets that I take to the trade shows. I hope this will inspire you to create your portfolio and start showing off your work!

To create the portfolio pieces, you will need to use Adobe Photoshop software. If you don´t know how to use it, I recommend taking a class on it here on Skillshare. 


Adobe, the Adobe logo and Adobe Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.

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Meet Your Teacher

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Sandra Mejia

Illustrator + Pattern Designer

Top Teacher

Hello! I'm a Freelance Illustrator and Pattern Designer. I was born in Medellín, Colombia (puedes escribirme en Español!). I create detailed, stylized, playful illustrations, patterns and characters from my studio in Ottawa, Canada.

I have very big eyes and I love animals. Most of my inspiration comes from nature and animals.

My art has been licensed by companies around the world for use in: Fabrics, Stationery, Kids, Editorial, Greeting Cards, Fashion, Puzzles, Gift and Home Decor.

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hello, I'm Sandra Bowers. I'm an illustrator and surface pattern designer. Join me in this class and I will show you how you can create your first portfolio even if you had never had clients or if you want to spruce up your existing portfolio. I will show you the way I research the market for trends and to understand what companies are selling, how I create and solve my own briefs to create collections that I can show to new clients so they see what I can do and you can apply this technique even if you've never had a client before. Then you'll see how I prepare my portfolio images by using markups and how I design the printed sheets that I take to trade shows and by the end of the class you'll be on your way to creating an awesome portfolio or sprucing up your existing one. So join me and let's start showing off your work. 2. Class Project: For the class project, you will either follow this sample brief I've provided or create your own. Feel afraid to modify the brief as much as you like so that it suits your silent interests. This should be something you have fun with it. If you're following my brief, please don't copy my collection create something different in your own style so you can start developing your own art that you can sell and show to prospective clients. Now that you have your art ready, you'll develop a mark up presentation sheet and apprehended portfolio sheet with your collection. When creating the mark up sheet, be creative and create different layers with different products. That way you won't end up with just a copy of mine. Art directors like to see your own take on these and your creativity. This could be a way to differentiate yourself from other artists. Also create products that are suitable for the market you chose, for example, then you want to work for home decor. You'd use a completely different range of products. If you're using mark ups that are not your own, make sure that you own the rights to use them. Remember to share your projects so we can see it and ask any questions you have in the class comments. 3. The Market: The first thing you have to do when you're starting your portfolio is to decide what market you want to work for, what products you want to design, and what are your dream clients. I inspire you to make a list of four or five of your dream clients and start seeing what products they use and what art they use. For your first collections, you can focus on two or three markets so that it doesn't become so overwhelming. For example, you can create art for the greeting card market or stationary or fabrics and textiles, for home decor. The best way to do this is to go on different manufacturers' websites, your dream client's website, go to different artists websites and blogs and see what products they're creating and visit stores. In your little market exploration, you should list the product, the subject matter, the technique, the style, the colors, and the company. The aim of this is never to copy what other artists are making, it is to understand what sells and what's out there in the stores already, and what trends might be coming up. It's very important that you write this down so you don't forget, and so you keep track of the information. I have provided a PDF just like these in the Clouds document so you can download and print it. I'll walk you through the way i fill it in. For example, if I saw this wrapping paper in a store, I would write down wrapping paper as a product and then I'd see the subject matter, these foxes, bunnies and flowers and its own water colors. The style is detailed, young and it's controlled painting, for colors they use pink, teal and orange and then I write down the name of the company and the website if it's there or I'd research it later online. If you do this and not feel start noticing patterns and that way you'll see what's on trend and what type of things are selling right now. 4. Your Artwork: When I'm creating personal projects, I like to make up little briefs as if a client has given them to me and then I answer to those briefs and then I end up with a collection that I can show my new clients. In the class documents you can download the PDF that I have created with a little brief that we are going to develop in this class. Feel free to adapt to your needs and your taste. You don't have to wait to have 100 collections to start building your portfolio and sending it out to clients. If you have ten or 20 collections that are very cohesive in style, you can show an art director what you can do and you can assure them that you'll be consistent with that style in case he commission you to do something. The number of prints in a collection varies according to the market. For surfaces sign like a mini collection would be one placement print and then two little patterns that are simple. You can also have a main pattern and then two simple coordinates, or if it's a fabric collection you should have between 6-14 prints in it, so it varies. You also need to have the format in mind. For example, if you are designing for greeting cards, you should know that most of them are vertical and when they're placed in the store in the little racks, you can only see one-third of the card. That third of the card has to be appealing and should have that text on it. Keep that in mind. They're designing for plates, then you want to circular placement framed or pattern. If you are designing for fabrics, you might want to make your prints more buried in the direction they're going not have them all be linear. You can use the fabric to different size. Keep the format in mind when you're designing and if you don't know what you're going to use it for, then try to keep the elements separate so you can then arrange it in a different way. 5. The Portfolio: Now you need to decide how you want to show your portfolio. The basic thing you need to have is either a blog or a website, but you need to have your portfolio online so it's easily accessible for clients. I only prints my portfolio for credit shows or if I'm actually going to a meeting with a client and I do this in 11 by 17 or 18 sheets. I create one placement framed or a pattern per page. Here you can see how I do it for the show. Sometimes I also include like one mini collection per page, when I am not interested in separating data collection.If you are creating it online, there's different options.There's free websites that are very easy to create.There's also blogs, and there's paid websites.Free websites are very easy or Weebly or Wix, or for paid websites, I use Squarespace. Remember to upload your images in a low-resolution safe for web or 72 PPI. And make your files small. I usually do between 500 to 900 pixels.And if you're sharing on social media or online, it's a good idea not to share the whole pattern, but just need better be where art directors can see what you can do. But people can't just copy it and replicate the repeat easily. 6. Solving the Brief: Every time I'm going to create a personal project, I used to create a brief in my mind. I've written it down and you can download it in the class documents. Client's briefs vary a lot. This is one of the ways that a brief could look like. They have the Project, say it's Foxes and Bunnies Spring Collection. I like to think of my dream clients when I'm working on it. Usually they'll have a due date and a fee, and a description of what they want. In this case, I'm thinking of a young, sweet, playful stationary line for the spring collection and it should include foxes, bunnies, and flowers. If you work in different mediums or styles like I do, usually the client will provide a sample of which one they like or they'll tell you what technique they want it to be in. Usually they'll tell you they want CMYK or RGB. If the files should be layered, usually it is, list, sizes, requirements. If you're unsure of something, it's better to ask before you start. For my Foxes and Bunnies Collection, I want to create a To Remember list pad and notes block, two memo pads and wrapping paper. I created every item separately, and then I made it into a pattern. You can see the class on how I create a pattern here in Skillshare, it's called Transforming Watercolors into Intricate Patterns. For example, I'm going to show you how I created my To Remember list pad. First, I'll go to File, New and since the brief says that To Remember list should be 5 inches by 10.5 with 0.25 bleed on each side, I'll create this size accordingly and hit Create. Since I already have my patterns created, I decided to give these a background with one of the patterns I made so I just add the pattern to the background, and then I decided that the place where you're going to write has to have a light background; so I added this shape. The brief said that the words 'To Remember' should be included, so I hand-drew them and added them on the top. Then I created a little composition with my icons and added it here in the bottom corner. I think since this is a To Remember list, it should have lines so I added them here. But by creating everything in its own layer, I give the client the ability to remove it if they don't want it. So basically, here they could create two different designs: one that has lines on the word 'To Remember' and the one that doesn't. Now that it's ready, I'm going to select all the layers, so I just hold on Shift and press here on the top one, and I am going to right-click, Duplicate Layers, Okay, and hit Command-E or Control E, and you'll see that everything is in long layer on the top. Otherwise, it will be easier for me to place it in the mock-up. I'm going to save these, and I'm going to show you how I create my mockup pages. 7. Creating the Mockup Sheet: I create my mockups in RGB because usually I'm going to just share them on the web, and I create them letter size. So here I have my document, it's letter size, RGB, and I'm going to show you how I arranged it. There are 1000 different ways to create portfolios. Adapt this to your own style and your own taste and do something you're really happy with so that when the clients open it, they'll be happy with it too. So first I create a background layer, it's just a picture of some plants that I found in a park. Then it's very important that you add your contact information. Usually I have my website on my email, some people also have their phones. It's up to you, but have one way of contacting you or two. So that's my website, it never changes, I'll just move it around. Finally, your logo. When you're creating your logo, makes sure that it reflects the type of art you create. So if you only make kids illustrations, probably it should be more childish and young, or if you create a super sophisticated art, it should reflect that. I create different types of art, so I wanted something that would look good with everything. I didn't want it to be too embellished. So usually I keep those three things in a background layer that it's locked so I'm not moving it around when I'm moving the objects. This is something that I don't usually do for all my collections, just the super special ones, or the ones that I've worked on a lot. It create a collection title that is cute, and it adds a bit more. It's not just putting the name out there, it's creating something pretty for the collection. So this would look very appealing for a company that wants to launch a whole product line with your art. That way they could use these on the tags or the promotions, and they don't have to design and it's ready. So here's my little collection title. I just use the background image that I use on the [inaudible] , and some icons that I had there and some hand lettering. So I just place my collection title here. I already have some mockups that are ready with their art here, and then there's one that is not done and I will show you how I do that. You combine your mockups or you can create your own. These ones you can just create by doing a rectangle and adding a shadow. So that's how I made these ones. The brief called for some wrapping paper, so here it is. It's just a rectangle filled with a pattern view, then there was a notepad, and two four-inch by four-inch Leo notepads. So as this is just a piece for my portfolio, the sizes here are not specific, so these are actually not four by four inch. You can hold them around to make them look cohesive and make them look nice in your page. So now we're going to create a mockup for our to-do list. So this is just a white rectangle I created. Select the Square Selection tool, create the rectangle, select the Paint bucket, make sure it's white, and fill it in. Now we're going to add some shadow so it looks a bit more realistic. Like here, it looks like it's raised from the table. So just go here to the Effects, Drop Shadow, make sure here it's black, and Linear Burn or Multiply, and move these around until you're happy with it. So I think I like that one, so I'm just going to leave it as it is and hit okay. So now we just need to fill it with our image. So now I'm going to go to the To Remember file and drag it here, and just drag that top layer here. When it's a layer on top of our rectangle, right-click, create clipping mask, and now it only shows the areas that are on top of our rectangle, so we need to fix this size. Hit Command T or go to Edit, Free Transform, and by holding Shift, resize it so that it fits. Hit Enter, and now we have it. So once you have this layout, you can use it for different collections. You just have to drag the other image here, and erase this one. That way you won't have to create the mockups again. So finally, I like to add some decorations, so I would grab some of the icons and just lay them around. That's what I did here. You can see that the individual icons have been placed around. I set them all to Multiply so they would blend in the background, and it's a matter of preference. I keep them all in their own folder so that I can erase them all if I want to, or I can bring them back. This is what I would use in my website, and what I would send to clients. I will save this file, and now I will show you how to save it for web, because you don't want to share high resolution images on the internet. You go to File, and in previous versions, it might be around here, Save for Web. In Photoshop CC, it's here, Export, Save for Web, and save it in JPEG, a very high, 80 percent. The size depends to your preferences. I don't like saving very large images just because it's easier to send smaller images to clients, and to put them on the website, it's also easier so people can copy them. So I'll make my width 800 pixels and it automatically changes the height. If you hit Tab, it will show you how it looks like, and here you'll see how much it weighs. So hit Save, and I'll put my name on it, Sandra Powers. If you use a reference number, put the reference number, not just the name of the collection, and hit Save. I will show you how that looks like. File, Open, and you can go to Image, Image Size, you'll see that the resolution is 72 pixels. That way, it would be saved at 72 pixels per inch, which is web resolution. The important thing to remember when creating these mockups is not to repeat the same thing in every object, this way, you're giving the the art director more ideas of what they can do with your art. See here, I have created differently layouts. I have the notes one, which is a border, and then I have the to-do list with this icon, they could also use on its own. The little pads follow the same style, but are all different. Then I have a pattern that they could use on something else. 8. Creating the Printed Sheet: Now, I will show you how I create my presentation sheets that I take to the trade shows. I make them 11 by 17 inches, but some people make them bigger or some people make them smaller. I think this is a very good size to travel with. I only use my printed portfolio when I'm going to trade shows or if I have to meet a client personally. There's a good way to do these and save time. By way, you don't have to be creating the layout every time. I created this layout, uses a new document, and I just added these three squares. I added my logo, and my website, and the name of the collection, and the number. I'll show you how to add you patterns. Let's start with this one. I would rename it "Main pattern", and this one would be coordinate 1, and this one would be coordinate 2. We'll select the main pattern and go to Layer, New Fill Layer, Pattern, hit "Okay", and we will select our main pattern. You'll see that the pattern is covering the whole page. What we're going to do is right-click on the name, create clipping mask, and now we will only cover our square. We will do the same thing to the other two squares. Coordinate 1, I go to Layer, New fill layer, Pattern, hit "Okay", and I will select my coordinate. Here, you can see that it's too big and you wouldn't be able to see what's happening in such a small square, so I will change this scale. Usually, I only change this scale to 50, still too big, or 25, or else I think it looks a bit blurry. I'll hit "Okay", and will do the same thing to make an intellect clipping mask. Right-click, create clipping mask, and now there it is. You can also move it around, and place it how you think it looks better. Nonetheless one, layer, New field layer, Pattern, Okay. We'll select our other coordinate. Again, will change the scale, hit "Okay", and create clipping mask. Now, I will save this. This is what I would print for the trade show. Sometimes I do the whole collection in one page, or sometimes I do one pattern per page. Now, that these are created as clipping mask, you just have to double-click here on the icon and select another pattern, and it makes it super easy to change things around. When you're going to create another collection, you just have to change the patterns and the name of your collection and save it. You don't have to create the squares every time. This is just a layout that I use, but you can use any layout that you want. You could have five patterns here if you want, you could have placement prints, you could make it horizontal. You could also erase the coordinates. Just have one pattern per sheet. I do that too sometimes. Remember, it's your art, so get creative and find a way that makes you feel really happy and proud to show it. 9. Show your Portfolio: Now that you've created your portfolio, it's starting to get it seen. Here are some ways to do it. You can go into companies websites and see if they have submission guidelines, and then you follow them. You can call companies and ask if they accept submissions and you send your to them. It can exhibit at trade shows. You see if you can do on your own and have your own booth or you can join on art collective. You can also get an agent. Sometimes you might even be discovered by chance by something you shared online or somebody saw your website or your portfolio. The client will contact you. Remember to be patient and persevere, do a lot of work and don't be shy. If you send out your work, they might say no or not even answer. Or they might say yes, or they might keep you and filed for later. You'll have more chances of getting hired, either sending it to art directors, instead of it siting in your computer. That's it. I hope you enjoyed this class and that it has inspired you to create your portfolio, or to update your existing one and that you can start getting clients with it, bye.