Portfolio Reviews, the benefits thereof

by . January 22nd, 2013

Attending a portfolio review is a great start for budding designers who are looking for a venue to have someone in the professional field critique and comment their work. Moreover, getting a very honest and straight forward comment about one’s work can help designers to make new connections whether for business or just a new buddy whom he can share information and inspiration with.

Other than getting new connections and having one’s work be given constructive criticism here are other things that one will get in attending a portfolio review.

  • Get valuable feedback from people that know what they are talking about because they themselves have been through the same struggles you’re having


  • Step back. Being artists, we have the tendency to be too absorbed in what we do and the works we produce. Portfolio reviews are a good time to separate the work from the artist. And to see if the works are living up to our expectations as an artist. To see if they are communicating the message you set them out to communicate.


  • Know where you can go. With the feedbacks given by the reviewer and your answers to their questions you will have a better gauge of where your work is heading. The reviewer will be able, through his experience, evaluate your work from the perspective of the end-user (buyer, client, reader, etc.). And your answers to the reviewer’s inquiries will enable you to see with more clarity if you are staying true to your vision as an artist.


  • Address your dilemmas. Portfolio reviews are also a good time to bring up questions you’ve been struggling to answer. Questions about technique, business, productivity, etc. Try to be as specific as you can with your questions so that the reviewer can answer your question effectively. Do not ask, “What color should I use?”. Ask, “I am interested in attracting environment-savvy clients for my graphic design work. How should I go about developing relationships with them?”


  • Learn a trick or two. Successful people love recounting how they got their “break” into the industry. How he was able to persuade the “gatekeepers” to finally giving him a shot. Or how he was able to impress a client to seal a long-term contract.


  • Practice communication skills. Most artists, especially new ones, have problems speaking about their artwork. Portfolio reviews are great for practicing, enhancing and evaluating your communication skills. It is true that great art speak for themselves, but until the audience is willing to listen your artwork is just another artwork. You have to be able introduce your works in an interesting way. Who else better to do this than the biggest fan of your work. YOU.


  • Study how the experts do it. Study how the reviewers communicate. Evaluate their speech, the words and phrases they use. Examine which ones can be adopted to your own communication skill set. Notice how they are enthusiastic about their craft, proactive about their goals, respectful but not submissive about their opinions, and how they defend their views but remain open to reasonable suggestions.


  • Develop relationships. Portfolio reviews are a great way to gain new friends and business contacts. Talk to fellow participants and reviewers, ask them questions about their work and what they like about their work. Listen a lot, speak a little, you never know what you may learn.


  • Opportunities. If you already have a strong style and a good volume of work. Portfolio reviews can be a venue where you get “discovered” though it may not be instantaneous. Keep in touch with everyone who is interested in your work so that they will be able to keep you posted when they have a gig where they think your work will fit.


  • Step it up. Portfolio reviews are system shockers.  They reveal your greatest strengths and lowest weaknesses. They state the reality of the market for your work. Portfolio reviews are a big slap on the back telling you, “Move up or stay stuck!”.
Gerome Soriano

About the Author

Gerome Soriano is a recipient of the Behance Portfolio Review Most Appreciated presentation award for the photography category held last November 2012 in 98b Escolta, Manila. His works are mostly explorations in the medium of photography. He is known for his kite aerial photography work.