Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Five tips for your Decorative Painting Portfolio

This is the entire package I drop off to prospective clients

In the current economic climate we need all the help we can get in order to secure that new contract. Developing a professional portfolio is the first all-important step. While it's not entirely true that your work will sell itself (you're going to have to hone your elevator pitch too), your portfolio is your first contact with a prospective client, designer or architect, and it says a lot about who you are as a professional. So it makes sense to put your best foot forward.

Here are five important tips for your Decorative Painting Portfolio to help you stand out from the pack and get you noticed:

1.  Pick only your best samples, and make sure they are all neatly trimmed to uniform size. I back them with self-adhesive black flocked fabric, which makes them feel nice to the touch, and also adds protection from scratching.

2. Buy some sort of neat box to put them in. Samples tend to be bulky, so I don't put them in a classic portfolio case. I bought a plain wooden box - the kind available from most Arts & Crafts stores - then stained and polished it black. I recommend a sturdy box because once those samples are out of your hands, you want to be sure they are protected. I used to use a folder-type portfolio, but all my samples got bent and trashed by clients. Your samples are gold, so take care of them.

Also; make sure to line the outside bottom of the box, because you do not want your portfolio scratching your client's table. I use the same self-adhesive flocked fabric as on the back of my samples.

3. Make a CD of your work, and print up a label that has all your contact info and 'please take one' written across it. I personally do not concern myself with the copyright issue of leaving unprotected images of my work. I'm more concerned that I leave as much varied collateral material for my client to remember me by.

I bought a nice card stock CD holder and glued it to the inside front cover of my portfolio book. I also place some business cards in there too.

4. Get some nice business cards made. Moo cards does a fantastic double-sided waxy card that is small, but big enough to carry all the basic contact info. Don't forget to write what you do on the card; it's amazing how many people forget. I don't know how many times I've pulled a card out of my pocket with someone's name on it, but no indication of their profession. It goes straight in the trash. Make sure that you drop off plenty with your portfolio.

5. Blurb does a great hard-cover printed portfolio book. I used the 12" square format, and with about 100 pages it came out at around $100. Not cheap, but well worth the investment. Of course, you'll have to make sure that your photographs are of sufficient size and quality, but the prints from Blurb are pretty good. As you can see in the photo above, I threw in some quotes by famous designers to lend it a whiff of respectability.

The Blurb software is easy to use, is MAC and PC compatible, and comes with a variety of handy templates that enable you to simply place your artwork before uploading it to their server for printing. They even have a storefront on their site where you can sell copies of your book.


  1. Nice package Alan! How many of these have you made?

  2. Great advice and I love actually seeing the package not just a description.

    Thank you!

  3. I've only made two full packages. One to drop off, and one to keep. The one that spends time out of my hands gets a little fog-eared and grubby from handling. That's why I like to keep one backup, clean one.

    I don't like sending out postcards in the mail, as I feel that they end up in the garbage. I worry that it's a big waste of time and money. I personally prefer to research a smaller targeted list of designers, and then drop off my work for review.

  4. Inspiration!!

    Your clients must be very impresed!

  5. This is totally first class!!! ( I am not mentioning anything about your package) Every media form you chose is done right. I do everything except give my sample boards the respect they deserve. Gotta work on that now! Great post.

  6. I have a lot to do! I can't thank you enough!

  7. Excellent! (Theresa - I failed the sample board test, too.) Love the ideas on the backing and the Blurb book as well. Have been meaning to get on that one for quite some time. This has inspired me!

  8. Impressive, Alan - that is a great portfolio package. I'm with you on the postcards. I really like the idea of the samples in a neat box, rather than a bulky portfolio. You really have this wired. And thank you for sharing - once again, you are very generous with your ideas and knowledge.


  9. Very nice way to present your work, thanks for sharing that!

  10. Been thinking of doing a cd and bound book for a while now, your portfolio package is quite impressive and is likely very memorable for your clients. Well worth the investment indeed!

    Happy to have discovered your blog from Fauxology.

  11. Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas! You have certainly inspired me to try some new things.

  12. I was so wondering that how you can make this card by hand very neatly........
    Plastic Card
    Plastic Business Cards
    Scratch Card

  13. Okay, I know what I need to get done next month! ;) Thanks so much for sharing, especially the photo.

  14. I ove the little box. I absolutely hate carrying my big portfolio with samples to every client. Great idea and looks like a recipe box upgraded ten fold. Thank you. The cd is also terrific.

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