In preparation for overhauling my portfolio, I’ve started adding and removing portfolio pieces to better convey to clients the kind of work I do and the kind of industry I want to get into: art licensing for stationery and paper products, illustrations for the youth market, and illustration for picture books, among others.
Overhauling a portfolio isn’t easy. You can’t add every single job that you do and every now and then, you go through your folio and remove the ones which you feel aren’t representative of your work anymore. I was a graphic designer (well, I still am sometimes) before I decided to transition into being an illustrator so until recently, my portfolio included some of my old design work from my previous full-time jobs. However, I am starting to phase out the design part of my portfolio as those design projects don’t contribute anything to my being an illustrator.
And so I say goodbye to:
MY MOTION GRAPHICS WORK
I feel nostalgic about throwing this out of my folio. For three years, I was a motion graphics designer for a broadcasting company here in the Philippines, designing and animating graphics for TV. It paid really well and my work was aired daily on nationwide TV and worldwide (wherever The Filipino Channel aired :P). It was an awesome first job from which I learned a lot about myself, “the real world,” professionalism, office politics, and dealing with people from all walks of life and of different temperaments. It was this job, with which I had a okay-hate relationship (I say “okay-hate” because I can’t say I loved/liked the job) that taught me the most important life lesson I’ve learned so far: that if you want something, just go ahead and do it— which is why I resigned from the job to pursue illustration.
It’s been almost 5 years since I left the motion graphics/broadcasting industry and sometimes I still catch my old motion graphics freelance work on TV (rarely though, as I rarely watch TV). While I didn’t particularly like being a motion graphics designer, I did like some of the work I did, but I haven’t done any motion graphics in the last three years and don’t foresee myself getting back into it, so it’s time to let go.
MY DESIGN WORK
I also spent almost two years working from home and on night shift as a graphic designer for a creative agency in New York with offices in Los Angeles and London. I designed comps for online ads, websites, Facebook apps, and online games, among others. It was a good job with a nice variety of international projects that looked good on a resume, plus it paid well, but it came at a time when my career goals and priorities were shifting to illustration and I eventually had to let it go to pursue a different direction. Also, Night Shift and I were not friends.
SOME OF MY ILLUSTRATION WORK
I also have to let go of some of my older illustration work that are no longer a match with my current style.
The first two horoscope girls were for an illustration pitch for a local teen magazine back in 2009.
They didn’t get picked up but I liked my work enough to add a few more girls as a personal project. However, as personal projects go, sometimes it takes years to finish them (well, in my case at least). It’s already 2013, 4 years after I started these Horoscope Girls. I still haven’t done or even started on the other Horoscope Girls. And in the amount of time between starting and idling, my style has changed. I draw in a looser, more cartoony style now, and if I were to go back to this project, the rest of the girls in the series won’t look like the girls from 2009.
Here’s a little story about one of my first paid illustration gigs. It was in 2008, right after I resigned from my first job and trying to make a shift to illustration (which I had no background in). A former co-worker’s friend needed an illustrator for a small business they were putting up for the holiday season so my co-worker referred me. I didn’t have an illustration portfolio yet, not even an illustration style, and the client was clueless about illustration (so was I, in hindsight). It was more of, “Hey, I know someone who’s an illustrator, here’s her number.” So the client contacts me without knowing the kind of illustrations I do. The job was for around 30 illustrations, half of them objects and half of them people in a stylized Jason Brooks/Hed Kandi illustration style that was very popular at that time (trust me, you’ve seen Jason Brooks’ work even if you’re not familiar with his name— you just don’t know it). Of course, Jason Brooks is Jason Brooks and I was young, inexperienced, and with a penchant for drawing cute faces on things, not slick, svelte, and lithe girls dancing in a club. But that didn’t matter to the client and we probably both thought an illustrator can just be given a reference and be made to imitate a style.
My best attempt. Hehe. On its own, it was pretty ok, but it’s definitely not Hed Kandi 😛 That job was difficult, mostly due to the fact that I was forcing out a style that didn’t come naturally to me. Also, the turnaround was tight and the budget was soul-suckingly degrading. Even then, I was mentally kicking myself for having said yes despite the client’s budget (or lack, thereof). I think I was going more for the experience and for something to put in my non-existent illustration portfolio.
Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson since. And while I did like some of the work I did on that project, those illustrations are now being chucked out of my portfolio because if a potential client asks me to draw something in this style again and I stupidly say yes, I will be pulling my hair out of frustration and thinking murderous thoughts as I did during the course of this project 😛
2012 was when I decided to return to freelance illustration and be really serious about it. The past year was for getting my bearings, refining my illustration style and technique, easing back into freelancing. 2013 is for going full-force (I hope). With preparing to send out my first postcard mailer to overhauling my portfolio (still a work-in-progress but it always is), I’m very excited for what 2013 brings, career-wise. I’m especially excited for a 5-week online course I signed up for later this year to learn all about doing more commercial art (I’m a sellout like dut) and breaking into the markets I want to specialize in.
Check out the portfolio section on my site which I’ve turned into a purely illustration portfolio. I’ve been updating it little by little— it’s now divided into topics I tend to draw a lot of, like children, animals, and characters. At a glance, just by looking at the portfolio categories, a potential client gets an overview of the kind of work I do and the audience I’m going for.
Also check out my Behance gallery which I’ve recently started using again 🙂