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Which Artist's Portfolio Case Is Best?

Updated on May 8, 2014

Which Portfolio Case

My body of paintings has really grown over the last few years and it's neither possible, nor desirable to frame every single piece of work. I tend to frame items only when they are sold or going out to exhibition. This means that I have a lot of work that needs to be protected and stored someplace and that is easily accessible for me to take round to gallery owners. This is where a decent artist's portfolio comes in.


Lifeguards Relaxing at Trebarwith Strand

Pastel on Fisher 400 paper
Pastel on Fisher 400 paper | Source

There are several types of portfolio on the market, so it's important to choose one that suits you. For several years, I transported my paintings around in one of the oversized polythene bags that my Pastelmat is delivered in, but I finally realised this didn't look very professional, as I now had a lot of work to rummage through, so I bought myself a portfolio.

The painting to the right of Lifeguards Relaxing at Trebarwith Strand, for example, will be wrapped and stored until it goes out to exhibition, so will live in my folio until then. I currently have three dates in mind for it to go out, and one of those is not until Autumn 2013, so it's important to keep it looking fresh until then.

Polypropylene Bags

Although I got rid of my giant poly bag, I would say that they still have a use. If you're going to buy one of the artist's portfolios that doesn't have a ring binder with plastic leaves, then it's a good idea to have your art work wrapped in some form of bag. This means that when you're at a gallery, you can spread work around without it being damaged. You can even have it ready for sale in case the gallery decides they want to take your work there and then.

Alternatively, you could have your work in a plastic bag and store it in a browser. You can usually buy bags by the hundred and in various sizes. Bigger bags can be used for smaller items, you simply fold over the excess neatly and tape it down. Having labels printed with your name or logo on is a nice way to seal a bag, and looks professional.

Basic Student Portfolio

You needn't pay a lot for a basic portfolio. The simplest type is made of card, often with a marbled design, comes in various sizes and closes with tape ties at the sides and top. This is a really simple, basic portfolio, but you will need to have your work in poly bags to protect it. The downside of this type of portfolio is that there is no carrying handle and if your work is large and you need a large portfolio it won't just tuck under your arm, so it's difficult to transport. However, the plus side is that these folios open right up, so you don't have to scrabble around to find your work.


Slightly more sophisticated is the Student portfolio that has a carrying handle and a zippered top. The disadvantage of these is that the only way to access your work is via the zip, so you often find yourself scrabbling about to find the painting you want to look at.

Presentation Case Portfolios

This is now my case of choice. These portfolios come in a range of sizes and materials. The best ones have a steel ring binder at the centre on to which you can slot clear plastic presentation pockets. They zipper open on three sides, so that you can display all of your work (much as the cardboard porfolios do), but you turn the plastic inserts over like the pages of a book, and it just looks so professional.

Presentation portfolios have a carrying handle at the top, but also a shoulder strap, which is really useful when your folio is large.

Many artists are very good at their creative work, but selling themselves and their paintings comes low on the list. Looking professional is all part of the job, so it's really important to present your work in it's best light. Having a great portfolio helps you to do just that, and you really don't need to spend a fortune.

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