Creating a Stunning Illustration Portfolio: 6 Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Show your best work first
  2. Make it easy to navigate
  3. Include your personal style
  4. Add context to your art
  5. Keep it updated
  6. Get feedback and improve

Creating a portfolio for your illustration work can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be! By following a few practical steps, you can create a stunning portfolio that not only showcases your best work but also reflects your personal style. This blog post will guide you through six essential steps on how to create a portfolio for illustration that will make your work shine. So, let's dive in!

Show Your Best Work First

When it comes to creating an impressive illustration portfolio, the first rule of thumb is to lead with your best work. The pieces you choose to showcase upfront can make a lasting impression and grab the attention of potential clients or employers. So, you want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward.

Pick the Right Pieces

Choosing the right pieces to feature in your portfolio is key. Here's how you can go about it:

  • Select your strongest pieces: These are the works that showcase your skills and creativity most effectively. They should be the pieces you're most proud of.
  • Consider the impact: Choose pieces that have a strong visual impact and can instantly catch the viewer's attention.
  • Limit your choices: It can be tempting to include every piece of work you've ever done, but less is more. Aim to include around 10-20 pieces in your portfolio. This will ensure that your portfolio is concise and impactful.

Order Matters

Once you've selected your best pieces, it's time to think about the order in which you present them. Here's how:

  1. Start strong: Always start with your best piece. This is the work that should instantly engage the viewer and make them want to see more.
  2. End on a high note: Just as important as your first piece is your last. Make sure it's another strong piece that leaves a lasting impression.
  3. Create a flow: In between your first and last pieces, order your work in a way that creates a visual or thematic flow. This helps to keep the viewer engaged and interested.

Remember, creating a portfolio is about showcasing not just your work, but also your judgement and understanding of what makes a great piece of art. By carefully selecting and ordering your work, you make it easy for viewers to understand your talents and potential — and that's the first step in learning how to create a portfolio for illustration.

Make it Easy to Navigate

An important aspect of creating a portfolio for illustration is ensuring it's easy to navigate. You could have the most stunning pieces of art on display, but if viewers can't find their way around your portfolio, they might miss out on seeing your best work. So, let's go over some tips on how to make your portfolio user-friendly.

Keep the Layout Simple

When it comes to the layout of your portfolio, simplicity is key. You want the focus to be on your work, not on fancy design elements. Here are a few pointers:

  • Use a clean layout: Avoid cluttering your portfolio with too many elements. Stick to a clean, minimalist design that lets your art shine.
  • Be consistent: Use consistent fonts, colors, and styles throughout your portfolio. This creates a cohesive look and feel, making it easier for viewers to navigate.

Organize Your Work

Organization is crucial in a portfolio. Here's how you can ensure your work is well-organized:

  1. Categorize your work: If you work in different styles or mediums, consider organizing your work into categories. This makes it easier for viewers to find what they're interested in.
  2. Use clear labels: Clearly label each piece of work with its title, medium, and the year it was created. This provides context and helps viewers understand your work better.

By making your portfolio easy to navigate, you ensure that viewers can effortlessly explore your work. This not only enhances their viewing experience but also increases the chances of them appreciating and remembering your art. And that's an important step in understanding how to create a portfolio for illustration.

Include Your Personal Style

Now that we've covered the importance of making your portfolio easy to navigate, let's talk about another key element: your personal style. This is what sets you apart from other illustrators and makes your work uniquely yours. So, how do you showcase your personal style in your illustration portfolio? Let's explore.

Choose Pieces That Represent You

Every illustrator has a distinct style that makes their work stand out. To showcase this in your portfolio, choose pieces that truly represent you. Here are a few tips:

  • Select diverse pieces: Choose a variety of pieces that show the breadth of your skills, but make sure they all have a common thread—your personal style.
  • Include signature work: If you have created illustrations that have been particularly well-received or define your style, make sure to include them in your portfolio.

Create a Consistent Aesthetic

A consistent aesthetic can be a visual treat for the viewer and an excellent way to showcase your personal style. Here's how:

  1. Use a consistent color scheme: If there's a color palette you often work with, use it across your portfolio to create a cohesive look.
  2. Pay attention to presentation: How you present your work can also reflect your style. Consider using unique, personalized borders or backgrounds for your illustrations.

Remember, your personal style is your artistic fingerprint—it's what makes your work uniquely yours. Showcasing it in your portfolio isn't just a way to express yourself—it's a key part of learning how to create a portfolio for illustration that truly represents you and your art.

Add Context to Your Art

Now that we've discussed the importance of showcasing your personal style, let's move on to another important aspect of creating an illustration portfolio: adding context to your art. But what does adding context actually mean, and how can it enhance your portfolio? Read on to find out!

Include a Brief Description for Each Piece

Viewers of your portfolio may be intrigued by your illustrations, but they might also be curious about the story behind them. Here's how to give your art some context:

  • Explain the concept: Briefly describe what inspired the piece or what it's trying to convey. Did you create the piece on a whim, or was it for a specific project or client?
  • Detail the process: Share a bit about your creative process. What techniques did you use? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Provide Information on Usage and Publication

Another way to add context is by providing information on where and how your work has been used or published. This not only adds credibility but also gives potential clients an idea of your professional experience. Here's what you can do:

  1. Include client details: If the piece was created for a client, mention who they were (if you have their permission) and what the project was about.
  2. Share publication details: If your work has been published, whether in a magazine, a book, or online, include these details as well.

Adding context to your work is a crucial step in understanding how to create a portfolio for illustration—it can transform your portfolio from a simple showcase of images into a compelling narrative of your artistic journey.

Keep it Updated

We've talked about adding context to your art, but there's something equally important that needs your attention: keeping your portfolio updated. A portfolio is not a static thing—it needs to evolve as you grow and improve as an illustrator. So, how can you ensure your portfolio stays fresh and relevant? Let's take a look.

Regularly Add New Work

The first step to keeping your portfolio updated is regularly adding new work. This doesn't mean you have to create new pieces specifically for your portfolio—just share the work you're already doing! Here's a couple of tips:

  • Share recent projects: If you've worked on a new project or created a piece you're particularly proud of, add it to your portfolio.
  • Showcase growth: As you develop new skills and techniques, make sure your portfolio reflects this growth. This will show potential clients that you're constantly improving.

Remove Older, Less Relevant Work

Adding new work is part of the equation, but the other part is removing older, less relevant work. This might seem a bit counterintuitive—after all, isn't more work better? Not necessarily. Here's why:

  1. Stay relevant: Styles and trends in illustration change over time. You want your portfolio to reflect the current work you're capable of, not what you were doing five years ago.
  2. Quality over quantity: It's better to have a smaller portfolio of your best work than a large one filled with mediocre pieces. If a piece no longer represents your best work, consider removing it.

Remember, learning how to create a portfolio for illustration is an ongoing process. By keeping it updated, your portfolio will always be a true reflection of your skills and creativity.

Get Feedback and Improve

Now that your portfolio is up-to-date with your best and most relevant work, it's time to step back and listen. Getting feedback is a valuable part of learning how to create a portfolio for illustration. Not only can it help to improve your portfolio, but it can also enhance your skills as an illustrator. Let's explore some effective methods of obtaining feedback.

Ask Fellow Illustrators

Receiving constructive criticism from peers can be incredibly beneficial. Fellow illustrators can offer a unique perspective, as they have a deep understanding of the craft. Here are some pointers on how to approach this:

  • Reach out to illustrators you admire: Don't be shy about sending them a polite message asking if they'd be willing to give you some feedback on your portfolio.
  • Join online communities: Sites like Behance or Dribbble are full of talented illustrators who can provide valuable feedback. Remember, the key here is reciprocity—be sure to offer your own insights in return.

Consider Client Feedback

Don't overlook the importance of client feedback. After all, they're the ones who will be hiring you based on your portfolio. Their insights can be extremely valuable in making your portfolio more attractive to potential clients. Here's how you can use client feedback to your advantage:

  1. Ask for reviews: After completing a project, ask your clients if they would mind providing a review of your work. This can give you insight into your strengths and areas for improvement.
  2. Pay attention to the projects you get hired for: If you notice that certain types of projects are getting you more work, that's a clear sign of what clients are responding to in your portfolio.

As you continue to improve your portfolio, remember that feedback is a tool for growth. Don't be discouraged by criticism—instead, use it as a stepping stone to become a better illustrator. After all, the process of creating a stunning portfolio for illustration is all about improvement and evolution.

If you're eager to create an impressive illustration portfolio, we highly recommend checking out Jasmine MacPhee's workshop, 'The Ultimate Role-Getting Portfolio Layout.' This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to showcase your illustrations in the best way possible, helping you stand out in the creative industry.