Assignment 4 Presenting your practice

The purpose of this assignment was review and assess work to date in order to create a portfolio that best presents what I’ve achieved.

Key words from the brief:

  • Document your reflections and amend your personal statement
  • Is there any other work you’d like to develop?
  • Use this opportunity to develop your body of work
  • Present your best work to an audience and the assessors
  • Provide some context to your work
  • Synthesise what you’ve learnt about your practice in a statement (up to 500 words)

Clarifying the brief

As an OCA assessor I want to see a portfolio so that I can formally assess the student.

This will be done when:

  • The portfolio includes a selection of of my best work
  • The work is presented with context
  • The sample best reflects my unique approach to image making
  • Key pieces include development/sketchbook work

Card sorting

My starting point was to review my work and select those pieces of groups that were either the strongest or worked a part of a story. I used ard sorting as a way to logically group and classify my selection.

I refected for a long time on what a student portfolio should contain. Fig Taylor’s book “How to Create a Portfolio & Get Hired”, is an excellent guide that gives a broad overview of the different genres of work and how best to construct a portfolio to meet the needs of a fairly specific audience.

I decided on a booklet format because it gave me the most flexibility and was easy to produce. My other thought was to publish it on, and this is something I might do in the future.

You can watch a short video of me taking through the portfolio:

Or download a copy of the portfolio here:

Practice statement

My portfolio reflects the fact that the scope and range of my practice is still developing. Rather than converging into a narrow clearly identifiable genres my interests continue to diverge and include reportage, urban sketching, portraiture, caricature, life drawing, corporate communication/visual thinking, visual diary, product packaging and digital.

Underpinning this is a solid foundation built from observational drawing using mixed media and mark making of all types. I work comfortably in analogue and digital and frequently work between the two.

The purpose of the Assignment 4 portfolio is to provide OCA tutors and assessors with a selection of my strongest work so that it can be formally assessed. This is completely different to what and how I would present work to a potential client.

In her book “How to Create a Portfolio & Get Hired”, Fig Taylor’s advice about the contents of professional illustration portfolios is insightful. She recommends “having one (or two, and certainly no more than three), distinctive styles in your portfolio, and applying these to a wide variety of subjects”. (Taylor, 2012:19). In other words, portfolios created to win work from picture editors or other clients need to be carefully honed and focused showing clear visual intent, so the potential commissioner knows what they’re buying.

My current portfolios need to reach three types of customers:

  1. OCA tutors and assessors (The portfolio I created for Assignment 4)
  2. Corporate clients interested in experiments/using visual thinking/visual coaching
  3. Galleries/online galleries that I am approaching to stock and sell editions of silkscreen prints

As I develop this could extend to editorial work, digital and potentially other areas.

As the Assignment 4 portfolio developed I tested it by walking through a draft with my tutor and with fellow OCA students via OCA Discuss. I had hoped to walk it through in an OCA open access tutorial but unfortunately this was cancelled, and time constraints meant I had to submit without that further level of feedback.

Key feedback points included:

“There is probably quite a lot more going on under the surface. Perhaps use video as a way to bring this to life”.

“Wow – this is fun stuff”

“…overall, it’s a very coherent presentation of the work that you do”

“Your statement text on page 3 works well – succinct and to the point”

There was slight confusion over the title of “Hugh’s Hugh?”. Does this set up an expectation that the answer is in the portfolio? Other feedback was contradictory and liked the fact the title was slightly ambiguous, leaving the reader to work it out for themselves.

Feedback on the tone of voice: “I think you could risk being a bit more personal and/or lighter in your tone”.

There was an interesting summary of the impression that the portfolio made: “I came away thinking that Hugh is a very complex character, has a good sense of fun, goes against the grain sometimes, but also has a serious side to him.”

“I particularly liked were your gestural life drawings and your observation drawing of folk in situ, especially the bird-watching ones.”

“What didn’t work for me were the drawings from photographs. These had a different feel and I found them stiff, lacking in nuanced mark making, compared to the other work, which is perhaps not surprising.”

I took account of the comments and reworked those areas where the feedback was clear.



Taylor, Fig (2012) How to Create a Portfolio & Get Hired (2nd ed.) London: Laurence King

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