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Illustration, Journal, Uncategorised

I Self Analyzed My Illustration Portfolio

By Rachel George · 18th May 2016


And How It Helped Me

Sounds pretty boring right? And why would I need to do that? I already know what’s in my portfolio, it’s my portfolio after all.

But honestly, it was quite informative, even if it was literally just my own input.

Actually looking at the work I’d done, taking note of the common themes and counting how many of what kind/genre/market/subject was present in my portfolio really helped give me an idea of what I needed to work on next.

It’s no set-in-stone formula, I just sat down with my freelancing journal and started writing while looking at the thumbnails of my work. (Something I honestly need to write in more, but It’s a lovely A4 leather bound lined journal where I write my freelancing goals, potential target markets and potential portfolio subjects, I’d recommend keeping one and it’s good to refer to if you’re looking at what you’ve done and what you want/wanted to be doing)


Portfolio Thumbnails 002

Samples of my Portfolio Thumbnails

Here’s how I wrote it – and again – this isn’t a definitive way of analyzing your portfolio, it’s how I did it, what I found out, and how it helped me.

I used one sheet of my A4 journal – Mostly so I could easily refer to one page when I do another in the future – and just jotted things down in no particular order, you can structure yours much better than I did, whatever works for you!


My Self Analysis Of My Portfolio


Common Pieces/Themes:

Women : 9 Pieces

Fantasy : 14 Pieces (This is the main theme of my portfolio, which is intentional so hurrah I’m doing at least one aspect of what I intended to do with my presented work)

Monsters : 6 Pieces

Prop Illustration : 3 Pieces (I added a note beside this “Do More”, as Prop illustration fits into my desired & targeted clientele and markets – which I’ll touch on later)

Animals/Creatures :  1-2 (I made a note of which ones I was referring to “Owl & Dragon pieces” and then added a “Do More” at the side)

Flora : 2 Pieces (Another “Do More” alongside this)

Space/Scifi : 3 Pieces (A definite “DO MORE” Beside this as I am – after all – trying to present myself as both a fantasy AND Scifi Illustrator, so that number needs to be higher)

General : 5 Pieces (This was labeled with “No specific theme/genre/interchangeable genres” and another “Do More” as these general pieces are rather flexible for target markets)


Portfolio Thumbnails 003

Snapshot-ting these images really helped me go over them quickly and see what I had/What was missing.

Next I moved onto Themes, Audiences and Target Markets, this is how that looked:


Overall Theme/Genre : Fantasy (soon to be Fantasy/Scifi when I’m done!)

Suitable Audiences : Young Adults & Adults/General Audiences

General Applied Market : Book Covers (That’s where 90% of my work ends up!)

Potential Applied Market : Tabletop/Card Games, Concept Art (I’ve done a bit of work for both these markets, and my work – I feel – is flexible enough to fall into both my usual general applied market, and my potential markets, but I need to apply myself more to the other markets to fulfill my works…potential!)

Current Common Clients : LGBTQ+ Small-Medium Sized Publishing Houses, Self Representing Authors/Indie Publishing Houses

Desired Common Clients : LGBTQ+ Medium-Large Sized Publishing Houses, Tabletop/Card Game Publishers/Companies


That had outlined that I was at least in the right direction, but wanted to expand on my clientele and the market applications of my work. AND I SERIOUSLY NEED MORE SCIFI WORK!

I then ended with a little note box at the top of the page with direction of where/what I needed to do next.


Areas To Work On:

  • Animals/Creatures
  • Monsters
  • Flora/Nature
  • Scifi***
  • Men (Because, honestly I don’t have enough men in my portfolio that aren’t monsters, and that is something I definitely need to expand on, as much as I’d love my fantasy genre to be full of ladies, the genre currently consists mostly full of male characters and protags, so, I need to more of those if I’m gonna work in that genre and expand my clients!)

Portfolio Thumbnails 001


And that’s it! That’s the extent of my quick “Self Analysis” and even though it might seem really obvious, it actually showed me a lot of what I wasn’t doing right and areas I needed to work on, so now I have a game plan for new work!

My current post-it note on my keyboard is labeled “DRAW A DUDE SCIFI/FANTASY, maybe include some pretty flora”

Better get on that then!

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