The “portfolio careers” are those where your creative work is part of a portfolio which is used for career progression and getting better paying jobs. It’s also a fundamental part of the New Economy, where people are able to work multiple contract jobs and generate multiple income streams. This type of job is becoming far more prevalent as employers start to outsource the work and cut operating costs. Whether you’re a graphic artist doing artwork for booklet printing or a web designer, the portfolio is who you are, to your market.
1. Portfolio creation and development
Portfolios in any profession are based on a series of criteria:
- Technical skills
- Commercial products
- Technological platforms
Your portfolio is a form of CV. It’s literally your record of employment, proof of your skills, and a value for prospective employers or contractors. What’s in your portfolio is therefore extremely important.
For a graphic artist for example, the criteria translate into physical products:
- Quality: The visual qualities, use of colors, composition, and subject matter are primary commercial considerations.
- Technical skills: Your artistic work shows your ability to work at a certain level of technical capacity. That’s a major issue for employers, who need to see that you can do the job to the required technical standard.
- Commercial products: These are proof of your commercial work, and show your standard of work in terms of the market.
- Style: Personal style can be a major asset, and includes assessment of your talent in its own right. For graphic artists, particularly the creative artists, that’s critical, and can get jobs in its own right.
- Technological platforms: For commercial artists, you’ll see that most job and contract ads include a series of specifications for working with things like Adobe and other software and technologies.
From this you can see that your portfolio needs to be adapted to particular jobs. All employers and contractors in portfolio careers are different, with different needs.
2. Matching your portfolio to jobs
The critical points in designing a portfolio to meet the needs of a contract are:
Understanding the contractor’s needs: Each contractor has to see clear commercial value in your portfolio. That means you need to research your jobs and the contractor’s own work. Find the right matches for the contract, and use that as your portfolio.
Value adding: The word “value” relates to both your proven skills and the work you can prove yourself capable of doing. If your portfolio shows that you can do a lot more than that particular job, you’re more competitive when applying for jobs and contracts.
3. Career dynamics and the New Economy
The New Economy no longer works in one job, on one salary, and in an office. Many professionals operate from home, and save a fortune in the process, as well as having the opportunity to go for a lot more income-producing work. This is a far more efficient way of doing business for both employers and employees.
There’s another issue in the career dynamics in the New Economy. You can promote yourself as fast as you can work your way up the ladder in this type of career. Your talents and your portfolio can take you a very long way.