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Design, Print, and Build Your Portfolio

Lesson 5 of 20

How to Show Your Work & to Whom

Bonnie Christine

Design, Print, and Build Your Portfolio

Bonnie Christine

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Lesson Info

5. How to Show Your Work & to Whom
Your work can feel like a direct reflection of who you are, but it is crucial to share it with others to advance your career.

Lesson Info

How to Show Your Work & to Whom

The next thing I want to discuss is showing your work, and we're a little ahead of ourselves because we haven't made our portfolio yet, but we're going to get to that in the second and third segments today, but I want tio discuss why it's important to show your work and also acknowledge how hard it is to show your work, especially if you feel like, um, it's really personal it's really hard for me, teo disengaged from my work because I feel like it's, like a direct reflection of my very soul, so it's hard to put it out in the world, criticism is hard and getting turned down it's hard, and I think we all get it and we all get turned down, but the point is that if you don't show your work, nobody's going to see it, so you have to show it in order to start moving forward in your career. So I like to say it only takes ten seconds of of courage. So many things in life only takes ten seconds of courage, and this has gotten me through so many tough things, because I don't really like showing m...

y you know, I hardly can order a pizza without getting nervous, so it's really it's really hard for me, teo want to approach somebody and and show my work so a lot of the way that I do this is that I pick up the phone and I called you know, cold call a company and ask for their art director and it's the most nerve wracking ten seconds um but I just have to remind myself that all I have to do is pick up the phone and do it I even write down what I have to say so that I can read it if I have tio hello my name is bonnie can I speak to your art director and you wouldn't believe how many times they say yeah just hold on just a second even if you don't necessarily know who they are director you know who they are, what their name is all you have to do is ask court but I'm trying not to be too specific to my industry this could be a publisher an agent this could be anybody who you're working within your industry but phone numbers are really easy to find and you just have to pick up the phone and gather your courage for ten seconds and dialled number and for me I say hello my name's bonnie I'm a surface pattern designer or I'm a designer and I would love for you to review my work do you have any submission guidelines so most anybody who would be open to viewing your work probably have submission guideline and this is how they prefer to see work they may request a digital version or hardcore hard copy version. This is also when they'll tell you the address to send it to in that kind of thing, so it's important part, which I think doesn't happen to very often, but the feedback that I've gotten is that it's nice to talk to somebody on the phone because oftentimes, I mean it would be easier to text or email right, but picking up the phone something about voice to voice connection really resonates with them. So another opportunity to show your work is through trade shows trade shows every industry has a trade show for their industry, so my primary trade shows called quilt market surface pattern designers also can attend print source or sir tex photographers have your own trade show. Every industry has large and small trade shows, so you can attend as two different types of oven a tender so you can attend as an observer and an observer could served two purposes. You could just go to see what it's like and what other people are doing. If you're not really ready, you're not really in a place in your career that you're ready to show your work or ready to exhibit this is a great way to just kind of get your creative juices flowing and see what other people are doing but if you attend it's an observer, you could also attend as a way to with your portfolio to show it to people while you're there. This is what I did at quilt market. I visited with my portfolio of the first time, and I had contacted art directors ahead of time and set up appointments. Um, so generally, trade shows give you a really unique opportunity that everyone who you would be interested in showing your work, too, is under one roof at the same time in the same location. So it is a really any opportunity for someone who wants to show their work. My only suggestion would be to make appointments and make them early, because these trade shows air really hectic right before and then of course, you could attend as an exhibitor, and this is going to look different for every trade show. But something like sir tex allow surface pattern designers to visit as an exhibitor, have a booth and show you work in order for cos tio, license your designs. I think every industry will also have a trade show similar to where you can go and actually pay to exhibit in a booth and show your work that way. So, like I said, a very unique opportunity, so the next thing I want you to think about is research does do some research find a trade show maybe a local one or or a big one that is in your region and then consider whether you can exhibit or maybe just attend if you can't exhibit or don't want to exhibit yet just attend to see what other people are doing do you guys know of any trade shows I haven't mentioned for your industry on the quilt condom modern quote killed quote khan have you gone to that win or I haven't been to that one but I would love to go ok yeah so mixture definitely yeah quote market is kind of different in that you exhibit to kind of show you work but not really in order to pick up new york just to share to share your work and let people kind of know that you exist in order fabric and that kind of thing so I think quote khan is similar to quote market in that way and then something like sir tex you're there to actually gain newark and new licenses even though I should say that I've never exhibited a certain text you have I would like to but we'll see they fall in same weekend we'll market and cirtek so I always have to choose any others I took my port boiled tio to quote khan actually I tried to make appointments I use your advice I gave the club calls right time ten seconds does get you isn't in there backing I it didn't seem very surprised that I was calling, you know, and, uh, the one company that was really honing in, on which I will not name, I left my name twice talked to the same gal twice there in the middle of moving from one place together, which I understand crazy, busy, I got to the point where I felt like I was really bothering them, and they're like, oh, I remember you, and I'm s so I thought, ok, like time ahead of the bone and be done with that, but then I did meet with the I took my portfolio anyway with me, and I said to many people, I people that I didn't know it, not even just, you know, my peers, a lot of my peers, and then also I went to some of the boots, and I just, uh, they made a little time for me, but it wasn't it was it didn't go well, and then that because because they said, oh, this is really horrible, but because when were they were thinking, I don't know, but because I felt like they weren't really giving it their attention. Yeah, but my my feeling of kind, I thought, was to be like a laid back kind of, ah thing where the vendors are trying to sell their fabrics is not like not like the quote market right where they're where they're stressed they're trying to sell their goods to stores to retell us right? I thought it would be more welcomed like I'd be more like oh great when we just sit down with you for a few minutes and whether that way because they have all these projects are doing with all their you know, people coming into do these little projects and giveaways and contest so busy so it was radios are busy here um it's why it's important to make appointments ahead of time if you can but even I would say eight weeks or more ahead of time because six weeks before and had a time nobody's available there running around crazy trying to get ready andi even so I did when I was showing my work, I met with about ten companies and I would say three I hadn't I was not able to get appointments with, so I did what you did. I just walked in and introduce myself and that ten seconds off yeah, right exactly and I was able to sit down with a few of them I got good feedback from all of them, but I felt like I was probably going to leave with a lot of homework I don't think contracts often get offered er immediately and so I know and I was happy with that I was having to go home and feel like I had made some connections and had some legwork to dio I was prepared to do that, but I will say that the experience was just invaluable I'll never forget what some of these art directors told me that really formed uh and helped my work and my vision and where I wanted to go. So even if you don't have a mission to get signed just showing your work to your peers like you said or tio some companies and just getting their initial feedback can be an invaluable experience, so I highly suggest trying to find a trade show that you can attend or exhibit at the chat room they're really up on their trade shows. It's impressive yeah, please share so ampersand tweet says there's a national stationary show if they like being a part of we had a couple others here the how design conference is one that was brought up here also, and c c h a, the craft and hobby association show that takes place in anaheim every january kathie holden recommends that one so it's good to know the people in the chat room are really up on their conferences that is really good yeah that's great I knew there were a lot more out there than I even you know about so the point is you should definitely have one in your industry, so do some research and find either a small or large one to go to their really fun. The next thing I want to discuss is packaging your portfolio, so I want to encourage you to pay attention to the very last in every detail of your portfolio. So right now we're talking about hard copy portfolios like we're going to be making in part three today probably you may be holding this portfolio and walking it to someone to see, but a lot of times you'll be shipping it. So I have a couple of things that you should think about before you ship. I want you to just pour love into your package, don't overdo it weaken definitely overdo things, but try tio wrap it in a way that would make it fun for somebody to open make it lovely, like if you've ever ordered handmade goods, you probably got this beautiful package that got you really excited to get I mean, we get excited over getting mail, right? So just make it special include a personalized note. You should at this point know the name of the person that you're sending it to, so be sure to include a personalized note, introducing yourself and thanking them for their time or whatever you feel like it's appropriate to say about your work I like to include something that they can keep if you I sometimes I include a little fabric or if you're an artist you could include like a small art print that they could keep nothing extravagant just a little something that they can kind of keep and remember you by would be nice you should also let them know whether or not you'd like them to return it so some of you will be making portfolios that you're happy toe let them keep you don't want it returned and then I always want my return because they're I don't they're kind of big and they take a long time to make so I always asked that mine get returned so my advice is that if you want them to return it, make sure that they know and a really nice way to do this is to include a return shipping label prepaid so that they don't have to pay to ship it back to you or even go to the post office and the whole nine yards so you can do this on gps dot com I think even usps dot com you can go in and instead of creating a shipping label you just return create a return shipping label and so you'll have to weigh your package and put in the reverse addresses but if you include that that gives him a really nice and easy way to get your work returned and then after you ship it, I'm I always like to know I was like to let people know that I have shipped it so they can be keeping an eye out for a package, and then I always like to follow up one to two weeks after this can be a long process. Like I said, some of these publishers and agents and art directors are getting one hundred plus portfolios a week, so this can take a while. I have had a portfolio at a company for over six months before so there's a lot of follow up and back and forth, which is another reason why you might want to make multiples if you have a couple of people you want to show it to, but not always. I just had a very well known company return mine within like ten days, so it's not always that long, but it could be, and so you want to make sure to follow up and not I follow up too often, but like every two or three weeks toe touch base and see if what they're thinking if they want something else, or if they could maybe return it if they're done with it. So this is just a couple of pictures of one of mine that I've shipped this was actually the first one I ever shipped, like several years ago um, so, you know, just wrap it pretty, put something nice in it, and then package it to where it's it's something fun for them to get on their desk. Also, the box is important, so it can be really hard to find, like I was scrimmaging for ah, decent box is to ship mine in, and what I finally ended up doing was going. Teo, you line. I use you. Line is online shipping manufacturer for boxes and things, and they have boxes of every size. So I measured my portfolio, added two inches on every side and ordered a stack of boxes. That was just the perfect size for my portfolio, so you'll be able to do that no matter what size years is to andi, just it's, just one extra touch that, you know, looks like you. You put thought into it.

Class Description

No matter how beautiful your work is, it won’t sell if it’s not presented in a polished, professional way. In Design, Print, and Build Your Own Portfolio, Bonnie Christine will take you through the complete portfolio design process, so you’ll feel confident about showing your work.

Bonnie Christine is a surface pattern designer and mother hen of the Roost Tribe, an inspirational community for creatives. 

In this class she’ll teach you how to:

  • Design your portfolio and develop your pages
  • Print, build, and bind your portfolio
  • Stand out from the crowd and contact companies
Designers, photographers, and artists will all learn about what belongs in a portfolio and what to leave out. Bonnie will help you design a portfolio that reflects your true style and helps you attract the kind of clients you really want to work with.

If you’ve been putting off putting together your portfolio, this class will help you get motivated to assemble a portfolio that showcases your work and demonstrates exactly how talented you really are.



Bonnie, I want to give a super big Thank You! You have helped change my life. I was recently laid off from my full time job. Due to your courses, I have dedicated my time to continue designing. You have helped my heart come out on the pages. Thank you sooooo much! :) thankful & very happy, Dawn Stratchko


I thought this class was engaging and informative. Bonnie Christine has such a natural way of presenting the information and never seems to lose her concentration. I really wanted to learn more about how to put together a professional but handmade portfolio and that is what you get. Thanks for the great class!

a Creativelive Student

Absolutely loved this course! I learned so much and feel confident now on how to present my company in a consistent and professional way.