Choose Your Collection Carefully

Tips on putting together your best possible collection of work to present.


Gallery Scene


Do you have a recognizable signature style? Is your portfolio cohesive and consistent? If all the art or handmade work in your portfolio were displayed in a room, would anyone viewing it know immediately that every piece was made by the same person?

If you make “some of this, and some of that” you probably have a portfolio that doesn’t really make sense to a customer. If you work in different mediums using different styles, you are far better off choosing one medium and style that you will market. Being a “jack of all trades” is not a plus as an artist. Collectors want to buy from professionals. That means you should be really excellent at what you do, have a focus and have a body of work that reflects that fact.

Take these steps to put a collection together:

  1. Take a critical look at your current portfolio. See if it meets your standards for quality, beauty, impact or whatever values you want to embody. Determine how what you now have will sell in the marketplace. What category would it fall into? Is there a market for it already? What’s working in your portfolio, and what’s not?
  1. Make your collection cohesive. Your portfolio should ideally be in a mature signature style which is distinctively your own. Working in drastically different styles and mediums and presenting a mishmash of them in the marketplace can make it look like you’re not sure what you want to do. Make an overview of your portfolio with a critical eye, and select the pieces that best work together.
  1. Selectively remove images. Are you showing primarily one style or medium, and have some items included that really don’t fit? Your collection is more memorable when you make one statement which is cohesive. Keep in mind that you will be judged by the least successful piece in your portfolio. Take a hard look to determine what is weakest, and pull those pieces out of your portfolio.
  1. Show current work. If you are including pieces that you no longer make, or are seriously out of date, take them out of your collection. Plan to share your current collection. Your marketing should look forward, not backward.

It is possible that upon review, you will find only a core group of pieces are really your strongest, and present the best potential as a collection. That could mean you have some designing and studio work to do in order to create a complete, saleable collection of work.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. The strongest collections are built upon a solid concept with related pieces that make sense and work together well. It is better to take the extra time to build a collection that reflects your best work. You are more likely to be successful with it.


This article is an excerpt from our new course Fast Start Marketing for Artists & Makers, produced in partnership with F+W Publications on Craft Online University. Learn more about this course and register here.



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