ARTRIGHT is a project established to promote professional practice and business acumen in the South African visual arts community.


Content Developed by Africa Centre

The CV is a way to document your career while your portfolio is an archive of your artworks. For purposes of applications or when showing your work to art dealers, curators etc., a concise portfolio is more appropriate. Therefore it is advisable to have two portfolios; one that is a complete archive of your work and one that is a selection of the best works. 

As a visual artist, your images are the most important thing people will want to see.  It is therefore vital to document all of your work thoroughly and professionally. To do this it is important to photograph or scan your works at high-resolution. For 3-dimensional works, it is good to photograph them from different angles and to photograph details. Good lighting is vital, as is a strict selection of only the very best images. 

  • - Archive: an archive is a collection of records. 
  • - Document: to document is to photograph or record something for record keeping purposes. 
  • - High-resolution: an image that is high resolution means that there is a lot of information (pixels) per area. The more pixels per area the higher the resolution. Ie. An image that is 300dpi (pixels per inch) has a higher resolution than one of 72dpi.  

TIPS: Image Resolution guide 

  • For print: The image size should be the size that you would like to print it at 300 dpi 
  • For web and e-mail: The image size should be the size that you want it at 72 dpi. Keep a backup copy of your documentation in a separate location, in the event that something might happen to your master copy

Steps to Making a Portfolio:

  1. Document all your artworks by taking good quality photographs or scanning 2-dimensional pieces.  
  2. Gather all information related to your work, such as the medium of the artwork, its size, the year it was made and a brief description of the work. 
  3. Create a digital file in a layout program that you are comfortable with. If you do not have layout experience try to find someone in your community that may have these skills to help you. 
  4. It is always a good idea to make your digital in a common paper size format like A4. This way the digital version can be easily printed. 
  5. Choose 10-20 of your best artworks for your portfolio. 
  6. Dedicate one page per artwork. Each page should include images of the work, full title and information (medium, size, date) and a brief description of the work. This format is versatile as now you can print it out, email it as a PDF or use it in a presentation of your work. 
  7. If you work in audio-visual media (sound, video, film etc) your portfolio could be in the form of a DVD with a few recent works. 
  8. Make sure that you label the DVD with your name and titles of the works listed, you can also have this information printed on the DVD.
  9. If you are emailing a document, it is important to name the file with your name and the name of the work (e.g. sbo_ndlovu_portfolio_2009.doc).

Note: Free downloadable graphic programs can be used to edit and layout images. Free programmes like Scribus can be used instead of Indesign and Gimp can be used instead of Photoshop. 

For more information see  Useful Software Tools