This topic has 8 replies, 9 voices, and was last updated 5 years, 11 months ago by Former Member Content Archive.

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     Angelique Powers
      • Experience: 20+ years
      • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

      Member Member

      As we move more and more, into this digital age, and its becoming more and more important, if not, required, to keep an online presence with a digital/website portfolio. Does this mean people are no longer making real “book” versions for actual in-person interviews?

      I have had the opportunity to interview a couple of new/emerging scenics who just wanted me to look at their fancy website at an in-person interview.

      Am I too old, or too old fashioned to want to see a book in front of me instead of a screen?


      I always recommend my students to do both. Take a paper portfolio for face to face, but an online presence for review later.


        I really do think that having a physical portfolio enables better conversation. You can flip back and forth, point (without, god forbid, accidentally hitting something on a touch screen) and navigate the work together. Screens generally tighten the viewing circle in a way that makes it hard to look at things in detail. My laptop screen is only half the size of my hardcopy portfolio, and there’s no way I can see detail work with clarity on my little iPhone. Also, I care about the scenic’s ability to do a layout and judge composition, and that particular strength is easier to see in print than it is on screen.

        That being said, I personally haven’t updated my physical portfolio in a few years. But, if I were to start interviewing at SETC or USITT, you can bet I’ll show up with my pretty 11×17 walnut cover portfolio!

          • Experience: 20+ years
          • Scenic Status: Other

          Member Member

          I have my students do both. I think the hard copy is more conducive to a conversation. Also, one of my students made the realization that it depends on where you have to sit to present your digital or web portfolio. She found it really difficult to present it from the side or from behind.

          In my opinion, I think the hardcopy portfolio has changed dimensions since when I used to lug my 18×24 portfolio around. It seems like 11×17 or 13×19 is sufficient these days.

           Ellen Jones
            • Experience: 20+ years
            • Scenic Status: Part Time Freelance

            Just my two cents worth, I think you need both, although the younger the interviewer the more perplexed they seem to be hard copy portfolios – or samples of real paint elevations.

            In my experience there needs to be web presence to allow people to “preview” the work before an in person interview is scheduled.


             Tina Yager
              • Experience: 15-20 years
              • Scenic Status: Full Time Freelance

              I applied for an out of state job in 2009 that wanted me to mail my portfolio to them. I made a copy of most of my pages and then slipped in a few originals at the last minute. I ended up getting the job and asked for the portfolio back… the office assistant threw all of the final candidates portfolios in the trash when I accepted the position. Gahhh!

              I wonder if getting an inexpensive photo book published would be the way to go? Or maybe creating a book using InDesign to demonstrate your adobe skills? If you are at a cattle-call style interview you should definitely have a physical copy of your portfolio and resume.

               Rachael Claxton
                • Experience: 5-10 years
                • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

                I don’t even remember the last time I updated my physical portfolio – maybe when I graduated college? I have my website, which I keep pretty up to date, even when I’m not looking for jobs, as well as a PDF I’ve put together if a job requires you to submit examples of work attached to the application. I do most of my hiring over the phone or Skype, so a physical portfolio is a bit useless to me in those situations. I much prefer a well thought out website to a book, just because in my opinion you can easily access so many more examples of someone’s work in that format. Ex: On my website I have a whole section dedicated to process and detail shots, whereas in a book I wouldn’t have as much room to showcase those types of photos without making the book a hundred pages long.

                I do see the point of having something physical for in-person interviews, although when I was applying in person for my job at Actors I just brought my laptop. I had printed out some good quality copies of my PDF portfolio since there were 4 people interviewing me so we didn’t have to all crowd around my laptop and it seemed to work well.

                To me, a website is much more important, although having the ability to quickly produce a printed copy is helpful in certain situations.


                For anyone that does want to craft a book style portfolio, what are some things that you do/don’t want to see in it? Or also, how long is too long, how might you organize it for a good flow?


                I interviewed many, many people for many years when I was the Art Department Co-ordinator at Lexington Scenery (a scenic studio) in Los Angeles.

                My advise for portfolios (traditional):

                1. Think of it as your “Greatest Hits” album. Edit, edit.

                2. Nothing cutesy. I was sent resumes and presented portfolios that were laminated (like a placemat!), on blocks of wood (?!), filled with glitter, etc.

                3. Look beyond the black page paper that comes with the presentation case but keep it professional. Vary the sizes of the photos per page.

                4. Label all photos and mount them on the paper (no loose photos). Labeling helps you speak knowledgeably and helps the interviewer ask questions.

                5. Keep it geared toward scenic art. Keep personal art at home.

                6. Have a few photos of yourself working on a project. It’s too easy to steal other people’s work photos these days.

                For electronic portfolios:

                1. In a live interview, practice! Don’t be fumbling around looking for something on your computer. Have everything organized and right at your finger tips.

                2. Bring extra batteries or a cord, in case your lap top dies.

                3. Don’t show teeny, tiny photos on a phone. Bring a laptop.

                Most of all: never, ever pad your portfolio with someone else’s work. You will be found out.

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