We recently worked with Tyler Johnson, aka SketchGeek, to print a book of ink sketches titled Inklings. This art portfolio is filled with original concept sketches, illustrations, and jokes displaying Tyler’s talents as an artist.
We had an opportunity to ask Tyler a few questions about his work. If you are considering a career as a freelance artist or are looking for art portfolio ideas, you’ll find Tyler’s story interesting and inspirational!
Side Note: If you’re in the process of creating an art portfolio of your own, make sure you take advantage of our promo code at the end of the post!
Art Portfolio Ideas
The art portfolio that we recently worked on printing for Tyler is called Inklings. This perfect bound book is a collection of black ink sketches. The 8” x 8” book is filled with 60 pages of illustrations ranging from goofy and “cartoony” to dark and mature.
If you are looking to create an art portfolio, there are a lot of art portfolio ideas and inspiration that you can gain by using Tyler’s book. Here are a few things Tyler did well that we highly recommend.
1. Use the cover to leave them wanting more
The cover on Tyler’s perfect bound booklet displays a skull sketched in a spacesuit on a black cover. Choosing this interesting visual begs the question- what is in this thing?
You’ll also want to make sure to come up with a clever name like Inklings. We love the title Tyler chose because it alludes both to his method of ink sketching and the inspiration for his outer space-related characters in his first and favorite collection, Cosmonaughts.
Tyler also chose to go a more formal book style. He chose a perfect bound book with very appealing, professional paper stock options for his cover. The specs he went with are below:
- Weight: 100 lb (or 100 #)
- Stock: Silk Cover
- Lamination: Silk Lamination
2. Start strong
We asked Tyler which of the sketches in his book were his personal favorite. In response, he informed us, “ I enjoyed making the Cosmonaughts series the most. Skulls are one of my favorite things to draw because they’re easily recognizable no matter how much you exaggerate the shapes; same with spacesuits. So putting those together makes for endless possibilities.”
Since Cosmonauts is his favorite collection in this book, he puts it first. When putting together an illustration portfolio you want to make a strong first impression. The first section of your book should display the work you are most proud of and want to be known by.
Starting off your portfolio with your best pieces is a great way to intrigue someone to continue flipping through the pages. If they are impressed by what they see, they will want to continue looking for something you’ve done that is equally impressive. Also, if for some reason someone doesn’t have the time to look through your entire book, you’ll want to have at least them walking away associating you with your best work.
3. Utilize sections
If you are like Tyler and have a variety of aesthetics or different collections you’d like to include in your portfolio, you’ll want to create sections. Inklings is broken down into five parts. He uses creative titles for each section. He starts off with his personal favorite, Cosmonaughts, then goes on to display other collections of his work which have equally intriguing titles such as Pumpkin Butcher, Deep Diver, Lady of Undeath, and finally, Gerardo the Doombringer.
Each section has its own aesthetic and is interesting in its own way and own right. Similar to starting his book off with his favorite collection, he starts each section with a sketch that leaves a lasting impact. Section titles are another way to leave the viewer wanting to explore every part of the book thoroughly.
4. Let the work speak for itself
Throughout Tyler’s book, you will find very few words on the pages where his artwork is. Avoiding too much verbiage is an excellent tactic because often descriptions act as distractions.
Tylers does have a few sections where he includes writing. Inklings have section titles, short 2-3 sentence blurbs describing what each section contains, an “About Me” page at the beginning and a “Quick FAQs” page at the end. However, very few pages displaying sketches use words unless he gave certain characters names. He lets the work speak for itself, and it pays off.
While you want to stay on the minimalist side when it comes to words and illustration portfolios, it is a good idea to include collection titles, descriptions, and other information about yourself as an artist as Tyler did. This is a great way to display your experience, thought process, and inspiration as an artist.
If someone is working on a project and looking for an artist with a particular mindset or aesthetic to collaborate with, these descriptions can point them in your direction.
5. Promote yourself
Since an art portfolio is an opportunity to display your work, it is important to promote yourself by including relevant contact information and a little bit about your background.
On the inside of the front cover, Tyler includes an “About Me” section. This goes into his background and how he got into illustration. Make sure that when you write a blurb about yourself, you use the third person, not first person. This will make you sound more professional and well known. Tyler does himself a solid by including “Want to see more of his work? Visit SketchGeek.com and follow him on social media @SketchGeek.
It is super vital to include your contact information on your art portfolio, and Tyler doubles up by adding his information on the back cover as well. There he included his web address, SketchGeek.com; his email address SketchGeekArt@gmail.com; and his social media handle, @SketchGeek. You never know whose hands your portfolio could fall into!
About the Artist – Tyler Johnson
Tyler graduated with a BFA in Media Arts & Animation from The Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg in 2008. After graduating, Johnson spent several years drawing caricatures at theme parks. His love for fantasy illustration led him to a career as a freelance artist exploring a variety of mediums including drawing, character & creature design, and graphic design.
Tyler spends his time creating artwork full-time for a variety of board game developers. If you’ve ever played, RWBY: Combat Ready, Lucidity, Ghostel, E-Ship, or Legends of Draxia you’ve interacted with his artwork. Tyler looks forward to working with more board game developers and one-day creating board games of his own.
Tyler is always open to new projects and collaborations. If you are working on a project and need someone with a strong background in character design, Tyler could be your man. Check out his site, SketchGeek, to learn more about his work.
About the Art Portfolio – Inklings
Tyler told us, “The sketches from this book took anywhere from one to four hours, depending on how detailed and well planned they were.” Some of his ink drawings were created using Pentel Pocket Brush Pens and others with a brush and container of India ink. Additionally, he included pencil sketches at the end of the booklet for us to better understand his drawing process.
Many of the sketches were created during Inktober – a reoccurring drawing challenge every October in which artists all over the world participate by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month. Due to the timing, many of Tyler’s sketches in this particular portfolio are Halloween themed.
If you have a thing for skulls in space suits, you might want to check out Tyler’s Etsy page. Not only can you purchase his book, Inklings, there but you can also order prints of his drawings.
Create Your Own Art Portfolio
If you are in the process of putting together your own art portfolio, let Printi help!
Step 1: Explore Our Book Binding Options here.
Step 2: Check out all the paper stock options available to you. Order a Paper Sample Pack
Step 3: Use the promo code FREEBOOKSAMPLE to get a free copy of your first book with Printi!