What Makes a Good Portfolio

By Sabina Hahn

The SCBWI Tuesday Night Professional Series wrapped up 2016 with Nicole de las Heras and Maria Mondugno speaking to an enthusiastic audience about what makes a good portfolio.

Nicole de las Heras loves pairing the right artist with the right manuscript and collaborating with artist and editor. She has lots of opportunities to do this as an Art Director at Random House Children’s Books, where she oversees board books, picture books, leveled readers, and early chapter books. Emily Winfield Martin, LeUyen Pham, Brigette Barrager, Josie Portillo, Ruth Sanderson, and Mike Boldt are among the artists she has worked with. Another thing she loves about her job is finding new talent.

As soon as she could write her name, Maria Modugno got her first library card. A lifelong reader, she worked at a number of publishers before joining Random House in 2012 to specialize in picture books. The books she has edited include The Napping House and stories about Toot and Puddle, Pinkalicious, and Splat the Cat. She avoids acquiring too-long picture books and tests potential acquisitions with an egg timer.


Fishing For Illustration Jobs: Your Art Is Your Hook

Originally Posted: September 2013

by Christina A. Tugeau, CATugeau Artist Agent LLC  

This time of year, many people love to get away to a quiet stream or isolated bit of shore and throw a line. Fishing is good for the soul. So is creating art and making a living. When you are fishing for jobs, your art is your hook — not your resume or your winning personality. Your actual work, its style, color, drawing quality, and characters, will win you assignments.  As an agent, I show editors and art directors my clients’ art, and  I have a tackle box full of hooks. But an individual artist really only needs one or two memorable hooks of the right kind and quality to win a job. (more…)

Four Simple Portfolio Tips For Illustrators

Originally Posted: April 2013

by Gina Carey

Kerry Martin, senior art designer at Clarion Books, and Lucy Ruth Cummins, senior art director at Simon & Schuster, reviewed illustrators’ portfolios, answered questions and offered advice for both new and more experienced illustrators in December as part of the Professional Lecture Series.  Here are some of the practical tips they offered. (more…)

Portfolio Critques With Patti Ann Harris

Originally Published: Mar. 16, 2012

By: Wallace West

Patti Ann Harris, Senior Art Director for Little Brown Books for Young Readers, critiqued the portfolios of three SCBWI Metro Members on 13 December, 2011. Aside from providing both praise and constructive criticism she offered the invaluable advice of a seasoned industry professional.

In response to the age-old question of whether or not an illustrator should restrict a portfolio to only one style, Harris said it is not unacceptable to have two different styles in a portfolio. However, the illustrator should be able to consistently deliver the styles and it should be clearly defined to an Art Director which style will be used for a project.

“It’s a great thing to experiment [with styles],” said Harris. “Every artist is always hopefully evolving and you have to give yourself permission to do this.” (more…)

Portfolio Critiques With Mela Bolinao

Originally Published: Feb. 1, 2011

by Karen DelleCava

On January 11, three lucky artist’s portfolios were selected in a drawing for an on-the-spot critique by Mela Bolinao, illustration agent of MB Artist. All in attendance benefitted from her insightful comments.

Mela looks for 8-10 images of one style—the artist’s signature style. She says, “It’s important to explore many styles before preparing your portfolio but ultimately the artist should focus on one and present the work that makes him/her most happy because that will come across in the art.” (more…)

Drawing In A Crowd: Reviewing Portfolios With Patrick Collins

Originally Posted: Mar. 4, 2010

by Newsletter Staff

On January 12, 2010, at the SCBWI Tuesday Professional Series, Patrick Collins, the Art Director of Henry Holt, put everyone at ease with his relaxed, comfortable approach to portfolio reviews.

Conducting the reviews as if they were meeting one-on-one in Collins’ office instead of a crowded room, Collins started by getting to know each of the four illustrators, chosen from the audience by lottery.

Before looking at the portfolio, he asked the artists questions about what they’ve been working on, what they want to work on, and how they became interested in children’s book illustration. (more…)