Contrary to belief, you do not need to have hundreds of pieces developed before launching and promoting your portfolio website. You just need a handful of strong collections to present your artwork to the world. The only exception to this may be if you intend to reach out to a traditional art licensing agent. Otherwise, if you want to market yourself to studios and freelance clients it is not necessary.
When you are developing your portfolio website there are two important factors to consider. First, you want to love the work you are presenting and, second, you want to make sure the work is a true representation of your style. If you feel it isn’t—something we’ve all felt at one point or another—it may be time to focus on artwork development and creative exploration. You can worry about marketing and sales in the future.
After identifying your style and getting comfortable with the development process, the time will come when you are ready to present your artwork. When this happens
I recommend showing at least three very strong collections, or nine individual patterns, on the public area of your portfolio website.
No more than that is necessary! The remainder of your work, as well as any artwork that is developed in the future, can be added to a password protected area. It is my personal opinion that you don’t have to display all your artwork for the entire world to see in order to get your name out there and promote your work. You simply have to share enough of your amazing work that you grab the visitor’s attention and drive them to apply for access to your private portfolio.
The benefits of a private portfolio
There is no way to guarantee that your work is not going to be copied, but protecting your work via a password is one small step that you can take to lessen the risk. It also has one other major benefit—it allows you to get to know your customers.
A customer that applies for a password is a serious client, a potential client. The password helps you start developing a relationship with them and you can get to know what your customers are looking for in the marketplace and how you can make their lives a little easier. Take advantage of this opportunity!
A private portfolio will also enable you to sell to more clients, including those who prefer not to purchase artwork that has been posted on public portfolio websites, stores, or blogs. Some buyers don’t mind purchasing artwork that has been posted publicly; however, some are hesitant to do so and others will outright refuse to purchase work that has been shown in a public way. Having a private portfolio protects your work and allows you to cater to buyers across the spectrum.
Assess where you are at
As soon as you are excited with the work that you are creating and feel ready to share it with the world, do it! One of the best ways to learn who your customers are, what style resonates with them, and what they need from you is to put your work out there. You’ll find no better way to gauge the responses that you are receiving. But most importantly…enjoy the process.