When you want to land a job that requires creative work, you will undoubtedly need a portfolio. The best way to showcase your animation work is through an online portfolio, but that doesn’t mean just adding your short videos to a website and calling it a day.
To improve your chances of getting noticed and actually landing a job, you need to put some time into building your site. So if you’re serious about animation, keep these points in mind when developing your portfolio.
1. Show relevant work
It seems obvious, but you would be surprised by how many people showcase art that isn’t relevant to their goals as an animator. While your work in other mediums, such as oil paint or pastel, can demonstrate your artistic abilities, employers are going to be most interested in your digital art.
If you want to show your range through other examples, add them in a separate section of your online portfolio, while highlighting your most relevant work.
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2. Avoid fan art
Fan art has the potential to create confusion and awkward situations. When you showcase your interpretations of existing characters, there is a chance that employers may think you created the character yourself or at least worked on the production. Unless that’s the case, or your fan art won an award or recognition of some type, leave it out of your portfolio.
3. Organise your work by type
Avoid putting all of your work together in one section, and expect employers to click around looking for examples that relate to the job you’re applying for. Not only does separating your work by category — storyboards, illustrations, videos, etc. — help reviewers find the most relevant work quickly, it also shows potential employers that you are organised.
4. Show your best, most recent work first
The whole idea of your portfolio is to showcase your best work. As you develop your skills and create new work, that’s undoubtedly going to be better than the stuff you created when you first started. Since the chances of an employer looking beyond the first few examples in your portfolio are slim, make sure that the first things they see are the best examples you have. Take out older stuff that isn’t as good; it’s “fluff” that isn’t going to impress anyone.
5. Keep adding new work
Not only should you be removing old, outdated work, but you need to keep adding new work as well. Adding new stuff that shows growth and improvement in skills shows employers that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and value continuous improvement. Even if your new work isn’t paid work, and you just created something cool using free animation tools for fun, add it to your portfolio to show what you’re capable of doing.
6. Don’t forget the details
Don’t put all of the time and effort into creating a portfolio only to forget to include your contact information and links to social media, including LinkedIn, Dribbble and Behance. Not only do you need to make sure that employers can contact you when they see how awesome your work is, but you also want to check that you properly credit your contributions to projects. In other words, if you didn’t create the whole project yourself, detail the parts that you contributed to so you don’t mislead people.
7. Review requirements
Depending on what you are applying for, those viewing your portfolio may have different requirements. Some may just want to see examples of your best work across categories, while others might have more specific requests, i.e., full scenes showing emotion or perspective.
As you develop your portfolio, review different requirements from jobs you’re interested in and construct the website according to those requirements. You may need to make adjustments later on when you actually apply for jobs, but you’ll begin with a good foundation.
8. Choose a reliable host
The website host you choose can make or break the success of your portfolio, so do your homework and choose a host that’s reliable and helps establish your brand. This generally means paying for hosting, so you can purchase your own domain and avoid pesky advertising, which might not send the right message to employers. Paid hosting isn’t expensive, but can go a long way toward establishing your credibility.
9. Avoid using Flash
By all accounts, Flash is dead, so using it to develop your portfolio website is not going to do you any favors. Using Flash indicates that you are not up on current trends — and employers may suspect that you do not know how to use HTML5, even if you do. Not to mention, Flash is not compatible with many mobile devices, so if someone tries to pull up your portfolio on their phone, it’s not going to work.
10. Make sure people can find you
Finally, once your online portfolio is complete, be sure to link to it directly within any job applications. Some animators even include a QR code on their resumes that link right to their work samples. Don’t make employers hunt for your work.
Remember to treat your portfolio like an ongoing work in progress. Keep it updated, keep it fresh, and make sure it reflects you. When you do, employers are bound to come calling.
Olga Bedrina is the Internet Communication Manager at Animatron, an online animation maker for creating interactive animations, videos and banners.