Guest Blog Article by Stephen Tiano

Digital Portfolios and Books

To a book designer like myself, a digital portfolio is a must—along with an abundant and varied social media presence—so that I can present myself to any traditional publishers or self-publishers who might need services such as I offer.

When I began looking into establishing a digital portfolio, I ran across a number of free options, collective sites that housed the portfolios of a large number of freelance artists. At first I thought this could be a good thing, as a large site with many artists would likely draw a large audience perhaps already open to the idea of contracting a book designer. It would, of course, be up to me to distinguish myself from all the others on display.

However, the more I looked around and discussed it with other book designers, graphic artists, and publishing freelancers, the more apparent it became that the more professional route was to pay for a website of my own. And that is what I recommend to any kind of artist wishing to establish a digital portfolio. Those free, group alternatives reek of “amateur hour” and suggest that one isn’t committed enough to being a professional to invest in a site of one’s own.

I tell self-publishers all the time that publishing their books means they choose to go into the publishing business. That means financing their business like any other business, as there are certain needs that will cost real money. But these costs should be regarded as investments.

Something similar goes for artists. Since a large part of art is presenting the work, a professional digital portfolio is a no-brainer. Perhaps the collective portfolio sites are okay as a secondary option, in order to reach into smaller markets, but I truly think it is a mistake to rely on such sites. Put up your own digital portfolio. The costs of this should be regarded as an investment. Collective sites have their own brand to sell—your prime interest should not be their brand, but in establishing your own.

Additionally, many of those collective sites are connected with what I call “meat-rack” job boards on which freelancers are encouraged to outbid each in a downward spiral—“reverse leapfrogging” I call that—to see who can win jobs by offering to do the work at the smallest rate. I can’t imagine any artist wanting anything but that the value of their works should grow higher and higher.

Make a digital portfolio that is entirely your own. Your professional reputation will be better for it.

Stephen Tiano
Book Designer, Page Compositor & Layout Artist

tel. & fax: (631)284-3842 / cell: (631)764-2487
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Skype: stephentianobookdesigner


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