Artist portfolio development advice from 'Dr. Art'

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Developing an artist portfolio that properly displays your skills, talents and unique artistic viewpoint is key to staying afloat in the art world. ‘Dr. Art’ of mnartists.orggives the following tips to help you make the most of your artist portfolio;

Everything in the art world slows down during the summer months. The number of exhibitions and openings dwindle as many galleries close for vacation. The summer is therefore the perfect time for artists to rethink their presentation materials. With that in mind, the Hotline’s first column is a refresher course on one of the basics: the artist’s portfolio. Here are some answers to questions concerning your portfolio.


What role does my portfolio play in applying to a gallery?

When first applying to a gallery, your purpose is not to immediately get an exhibition, but to introduce them to your work. Hopefully your work will incite them to schedule a studio visit. Following your studio visit, you may then be included in a group show or two at the gallery. Group shows are good testing grounds for galleries to see how critics and collectors respond to your work. Only after first developing a solid relationship, will you later be considered for a solo exhibition at the gallery.

Make sure that the gallery you are applying to exhibits artwork in your style and/or medium. If you are an abstract painter, for example, you should never submit your portfolio to a gallery that shows only representational photography. Artists should also keep in mind the real purpose of your portfolio.


What should my portfolio contain?

Once you locate a potential gallery, your artist’s portfolio should always contain the following items

A cover letter

An artist resume (also known as a Curriculum Vitae)

An artist statement

Visual materials (such as slides, photographs, videotapes, etc.)

A press packet (your reviews, catalogue excerpts, etc.)

A self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with enough return postage . . .  read more at

Artist Resource Center: 

PO BOX 66494
Houston, TX 77266-6494


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