Submitting your portfolio to a potential client (i.e. art director) to get work can be Friday the 13th scary!! I know. I’ve been there. You worry about putting yourself and your art ‘out there.’ You fear the response – or lack of one.

From my experience, this is the first step I'm going to say - take a deep breath and calm down. You can do this thing!

Second, take a look at these awesome infographic to see that even the GREATEST PEOPLE ON EARTH ran into LOTS and LOTS of rejection and failure before getting it right. Don’t give up (and don’t forgot to come back from the infographic vortex to finish this post!)

Third, I’m going to give you a super awesome, handy dandy checklist of things that have worked best in my experience of reaching out to art directors. Do these BEFORE you hit send so you can keep your emails from the stinky recycling bin.   

8 Tips to Skyrocket Your Portfolio Response Rate: The Checklist for BEFORE YOU hit send


Don't end up in the recycle bin by sending a generic form email. You know the one a mean - the same one you've been tempted to send everyone? No one wants to feel random, especially an art director. Signs it might be generic? A hundred of emails in the to field, a generic to whom it may concern, or no reference to the specific work the company you are emailing does. Take the time to write a personal note explaining who you are, what you do, and why the person you’re writing should care.  


You need to get into the head of who you are contacting. Figure out not only who they are (proper name, position etc.), but also the kind of work they are looking for and what they like – and then include references to that.  You should explain how you fit into the difference products or properties they produce. People want to work with passionate people. Art and design is all about collaboration, and no one wants to work with people who don't care enough to do even a simple Google search.

Tell THem 3 reasons why THEY SHOULD WORK WITH YOU

This is a mistake I didn't learn for a longtime, at least till I was on the other side of the table. I know as a boss, I want to hear why I should work with you. More importantly, how are you going to make my life easier? Ultimately, hiring an artist (or anyone for that matter) is kind of like gambling. You have the opportunity to let someone know what makes you different from all of the other candidates and why your the best choice. 


Guidelines are another gateway for weeding out prospective candidates. Not only does it limit the number of portfolios you get (for some reason the majority of artists think guidelines are "suggestions" rather than rules) but they also let the art director know that you can follow instructions and pay attention to details. It's another opportunity to shine.

Send your stuff to the top boss

This is an insider tip. If you ever can't find who the person who would directly hire you, most people would send stuff off to a generic HR person. Don’t do this. Ever. Instead, send your email to the person above the person that hires. If I couldn't find the contact to an art director but I could find the creative director I would feel comfortable contacting that person.  Just think, in a corporate structure, when your boss hands you some one to check out and maybe hire, you are gonna get on it right away. But, and this is important, don’t go above someone if you receive a response you didn't like. That will just make them angry.

make their LIFE easy

You should always make the art directors life easier. This includes, but is not limited to

·        Having you name and contact information clearly accessible.

·        Proofreading your email to catch spelling and grammar mistakes

·        Only attaching a couple of appropriately sized files

·        Linking the to your website that has a reasonably sized thumbnails.

Everything you do should be about making your clients/bosses lives easier.  By doing so you make yourself a must have resource.

use a professional EMAIL ADDRESS

OK, real talk. This may seem like a joke to most of you, but what I'm about to telling you is true. In all my years of reviewing portfolios, both professionally and academically I have received them from some insane email addresses. I’ll spare you the details, but believe me when I say I've seen some doosies.

Gmail addresses are free, so there really is no excuse. Just grab one of your name. If that's gone already try putting art or design on the end. Your a professional, make sure you look like one.


People are busy. Art directors can't go through your work immediately. A large percentage of the time you won't hear anything back, at least for a while. Think of it as planting seeds. Seeds that may take months to grow into jobs. You don't need to ask three times if they've seen your work and then again to see what they think and then again to.... you get the idea. Nobody enjoys being harassed. The best way to follow up? Every quarter send over your latest portfolio pieces to see if it sparks any interest. Everybody likes to see cool stuff! For more portfolio tips, check out the Ultimate Art Portfolio course here.