So, just what do gallery owners, art directors, hiring managers, or college / grad school art department interviewers all want to see?
No, I’m not talking about what’s INSIDE your portfolio, as everyone already knows that that will be your very best work (you had better know that!). What I’m talking about here is what is on the OUTSIDE of your body of work: the portfolio boxes / cases / print folios and other “external” presentation materials that can lend that elusive element of sophistication and elegance to EVERY body of work.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional, a high school / college / grad school student, or even a devoted hobbyist, everyone should be looking to make a TRULY dynamic presentation.
After all the effort you’ve put into your work, you want your first impressions to, well, IMPRESS!
Perhaps its best to illustrate the point with reverse logic. Consider the “crappy” presentation: the cardboard box one might carry their work around in; the plastic garbage bag holding one’s matted photographs (hey, at least they’re dry); the repurposed tote bag you got during the last public radio pledge drive (see above). While all of these “presentation” devices could be used—and as a former gallery director I’ve seen ’em all—just what sort of first impression do you think you might make with any of these variations?
Yeah, a crappy one.
It’s like showing up for that important job interview in ratty gym shorts and a “I’m Only Here for the Beer” t-shirt.
You. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
The Right Portfolio = Sophistication and Elegance
Imagine, on the other hand, that rather than carrying your best prints around in a public radio tote bag, these very same matted photographs or drawings or digital prints or watercolors or just about anything else(!) are presented in a fine archival portfolio box or a digital print folio.
Yes, you guessed it, the three rules of any presentation are:
No matter what medium you work in, your work will ALWAYS look better if it’s presented well, as half the battle is won with the right portfolios and presentation products. It’s not only what college or grad school art department interviewers / art directors / gallery types like me expect, its what YOU need to demand!
A Quick Word on Cost: Think It Through
Well, if you’re reading this blog you have probably already considered purchasing a really nice, high quality, professional looking archival portfolio of one form or another. There is no doubt that compared to other types of storage and transport boxes (or public radio pledge drive tote bags, see above) they are a bit more expensive, as the materials and workmanship that goes into any fine portfolio is of a different “presentation level” quality.
Yet if you think about it for half a second, HOW MUCH have you spent on creating your portfolio? HOW MUCH have you spent in school learning everything you need to know to get you to the point where you actually need a portfolio? HOW IMPORTANT is it that you get that art job or that gallery show?
When you do the math, owning a few really elegant presentation portfolios is not so much a “cost” as it is an “investment” and—as corny as it may sound, it’s true—it’s an investment in YOURSELF!
Don’t “Start from Behind”
I can tell you right now that after 35 years in the arts—7 of which were as a gallery director looking at portfolios all the time—if you DON’T have a great presentation you’re usually already starting from behind because you just don’t seem to “get it,” or you just don’t care (and I’m not sure which is worse!).
Sure, your artwork may save you, and admittedly it has on occasion done so with gallery types like me, but why risk starting off on the wrong foot and having to catch up when you can start at the top with a handsome and sophisticated presentation?
It is, quite frankly, expected.
So, just what type of portfolio is best for you? Well, personal tastes vary, as do the requirements of any particular body of work. Whichever portfolio solution you choose, though, each of the following will do exactly what they are supposed to do: show off your work in the best possible light while telegraphing to the person on the other side of the interview table that you know what’s what! Throw in the incalcuable value of archival protection (and the peace-of-mind it brings) and you JUST CAN’T LOSE!
1-3/8-Inch and 2-Inch Onyx Portfolio Boxes
If there were such a thing as a “standard” portfolio style, this would be it. Yet what makes the Onyx Portfolio Box ANYTHING BUT STANDARD is its extraordinarily high-quality construction and its durability, hand-built as it is (in the USA!) from the finest archival materials available. Slim, sleek, easy-to-transport and with a convenient drop-spine that facilitates the removal of your images—either matted or loose—the Onyx Portfolio is the ticket to success.
These boxes are available in both 1-3/8-inch and 2-inch depths (3″ and 4″ depths are also available, click here for more information), and come with either a black or white interior. Each of these fine boxes is built from the ground up to be both a workhorse portfolio and an elegant statement that “you’ve arrived.” They are wrapped in a rich, water-resistant black fabric that will last for many years, all the while protecting and presenting your work in the BEST possible fashion. After all, presentation and archival protection is what it’s all about, so do it right.
Museum Drop Front Boxes
Another type of portfolio to consider is the Museum Drop Front Box. Like the Onyx Portfolio, this product serves two purposes – elegant presentation and practical archival storage, especially for the various digital print formats. As is the case with all the fine portfolios offered by Archival Methods, the Museum Drop Front Box is available in many different sizes to perfectly match your individual needs.
Aside from the acid- and lignin-free archival materials used to make our Museum Drop Front Boxes, one of the greatest features is their unique design. A key difference between this box and the Onyx Portfolio resides in the fact that the Museum Drop Front Box’s lid comes off completely, allowing you easy access to your matted or unmatted prints through the unique “drop front” implied by its name. Built with robust double-walls, you can store or present multiple prints with these boxes without ever having to worry about the precious artwork inside. Slim, spacious and strong, these boxes are also perfect for large prints as they are available in sizes up to 24 x 36″.
Museum Solander Cases
So, there is a reason these top-of-line archival boxes are called MUSEUM Cases, as should you walk into practically any major museum, archive or gallery you will find them in everyday use and full of valuable artwork and photographs. There is actually an interesting history to this style of box, often referred to as a “Solander Case,” as they have been in continual use for over 250 years (they even have their own Wikipedia page! Please click here to learn more).
The exterior of Archival Methods’ Museum-Solander Case is covered with a heavy-weight acrylic-coated black cloth that elegantly wraps the strong, strategically-lipped basswood walls and thick top and bottom. The interior is lined with a white acid- and lignin-free card stock, the hinged rear spine folds flat for easy access to your matted or unmatted images, and the hardware is nickel-plated to offer years of service without rusting.
Another important aspect of our Museum Cases involves their size. While available to accommodate many of the most common mat sizes (11 x 14″ / 14 x 18″ / 16 x 20″ / 17 x 22″ / 17 x 25″ / 20 x 24″), due to the inherent strength of their construction our Museum Cases are also available in very large sizes (22 x 28″ / 24 x 30″ / 28 x 36″ / 30 x 40″). These larger sizes are, in fact, among the largest flat archival presentation and storage boxes made. Yet no matter what size you choose, when full of your best work the entire package quietly screams “first-class presentation!”
While built (one at a time, by hand!) for long-term performance with all the high-quality materials mentioned above, our Museum-Solander Cases also exhibit a sophistication that goes beyond the sum of their component parts. In a nutshell, while rugged and practical they are also stylish and just plain cool. If you’re looking to showcase your artwork or photographs in the best possible light, consider these stunning, elegant and durable presentation cases. As mentioned, they’re called Museum Cases for a reason!
Digital Print Folios
If you’re looking for a sleek, versatile and convenient way to show your matted or unmatted work in an elegant folio that fits easily under your arm, then the Digital Print Folio is for you. Depending on the paper weight of the images you have, this type of folio can store between 36-48(!) unmounted prints, or up to six matted images.
Visually appealing and archivally safe for the images stored inside, the Digital Print Folio is covered in a smooth black linen-textured fabric that offers a sleeker appearance and greater security than any bargain-basement portfolios provide. A magnetic closure ensures that you can quickly open and close the folio without worrying about its precious cargo sliding out accidentally. Made of archival binder board with an acid-free paper liner, these portfolios are available in several sizes specifically geared toward digital print formats, yet are also perfect for other sized prints for both storage and display.
These compact 9 x 12 x 1″ self-contained Accent Portfolios are perfect for images, documents, and professional or corporate presentations. The wrap-around exterior with its magnetic closure unfolds to reveal an interior tray with one open side for easy access. No more fumbling around with inferior knock-offs, as this high-quality archival portfolio offers the perfect way to introduce yourself from the moment you walk in the door. While capacity will vary depending on the type of documents or prints you are presenting, for comparison this portfolio’s 1″ depth will hold about 100 single-weight prints. Available in black or grey for a truly contemporary look.
The Last Word
Ultimately, you should take your time when selecting a portfolio(s) that is right for you. Each have multiple uses, and each is built to provide years of safe, archival presentation and storage of the important work inside.
As is often the case, different bodies of work and different presentation situations sometimes require their own unique solutions, so consider having a variety of fine portfolios available at your fingertips. Your work—and your future—deserve it…
…and you’ve arrived.
… actually, you HAVEN’T arrived quite yet, as ya still gotta get to where you’re going:
• that important job interview
• your meeting with that hot-shot gallery director
• meeting demanding art department faculty members at that college or grad school you want to attend
If you have additional questions on portfolios or cases, or you would like more information on any of our museum-quality archival storage and presentation materials, please contact us here at Archival Methods. We’re always there to help with any archiving, storage, or presentation questions you may have.