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Tips for Con Season and Having Your Portfolio Reviewed

by Richard Serrao

This Column  will be a bit of an overview of things to come and at the same time give everyone out there the opportunity to voice their opinions about all of the subject matter mentioned.

Con season is here and i know some people will be going to get their portfolios reviewed so I’ll just give a few suggestions as how to proceed when heading over to a Con.

Once you’ve bought your ticket and have put together a portfolio to be reviewed be sure to have a proper portfolio case to place your artwork inside. The prices vary but you can always buy it used from or some other site for an affordable price. It’s a very good investment. I bought mine almost 14 years ago and still have it to this day. Make sure you get the type that suits your needs and be mindful of the sizes of artwork you’ll  carry inside of the case.


Now while this is a great source of stress for any artist regardless of the medium, you’ll probably sweat a lot so shower before going to the Con, use deodorant or anti-perspirant and groom yourself properly. Brush your hair, your teeth and shave if need be.

deodorant Tips for Con Season and Having Your Portfolio Reviewed
Image Credit – Clean Wal-Mart

These things might sound stupid saying it like this but you’d be surprised how many people show up dishevelled and smell a bit rank, imagine the poor people around you stuck in a limited space for a prolonged period. Yeah, not good.

Also try not to rush around in a panic, take your time and leave early enough to get where you’re going.

watch Tips for Con Season and Having Your Portfolio Reviewed
Image Credit – koichiroo

Make sure you have a good watch with you. You don’t have to buy a crazily expensive watch like this one pictured above, I’m just using it as an example. Keep your cell phone with you as well. In case of emergencies and such.

Another good tip before you present your work to be reviewed is to take the time to see how the artist you’ve chosen reviews a portfolio. Most artists give constructive criticisms but some days the person may be off or maybe this person is just a monumental a-hole, so really watch how this person reacts to other artists and their work.

It already requires a lot of courage to present your stuff to be critiqued, you also have to be prepared for the review. Whatever you do, don’t argue with the person reviewing your work. Listen intently, ask questions such as if they have any helpful suggestions for you to follow? If you want to be a professional, act like a professional. This is a universal truth and is non-negotiable. Even if you feel the person reviewing your work is being incredibly harsh, try to see what can be learned in a constructive fashion to help you improve as an artist.

Quite a few years ago when I went to my first Con to have my portfolio reviewed. I was lucky enough to meet some cool artists that gave a ton of helpful suggestions. At the same time  I managed to avoid one artist in particular who was doing critiques and proceeded to tear into every artist he reviewed. He quite literally had no helpful words apart from pulling out his own work and saying, “now this is how you should do panel to panel continuity”. I won’t mention the name of this artist but I don’t see his name anymore in the comics world. To be honest you could tell when talking to him he was so full of himself that he wouldn’t last very long with that kind of attitude in this business.

Ask if you can record what the artist is saying so you can go over it later.  Ask first though before you do that though or after the review find a comfortable spot and sit down and take a few notes. Jot down all of the important points the artists brought up with any suggestions mentioned in the review, step by step.

sean-fidler-optimum-wound-fanexpo-2009Writer Sean Fidler and Renee rocking the OpWound table in artists alley at FanExpo 2009

Last but by no means least, don’t disrespect the artist or person reviewing your work and make sure you say thank you to them for their time and suggestions. If you want to be a professional, act like one. I can’t say this  enough. I have seen way too many people stand in line for a portfolio review for at least an hour and then proceed to argue with the person that is critiquing their work. A big no-no.

Hope this helps anyone considering going to a Con and bringing their  portfolio to be reviewed. Even if you’re just going to a Con just to hang and check out everything that’s happening, the personal hygiene section of this Blog should still be followed. Oh  yeah, wear clean clothes as well. I don’t care if it’s your lucky t-shirt, if it hasn’t been washed and has holes you can put your fingers through, leave it at home. Find something more presentable to wear.

Have a great week everyone.

Richard Serrao is an artist, writer and co-owner of Optimum Wound. Follow him on Twitter.

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