Larry Brogan: Building a Solid Portfolio

By Larry Brogan
Courtesy of Tattoo Road Trip Your portfolio is your most important tool. Why? Because it gets you the JOB. Your portfolio is what sells your skills…

A solid portfolio represents the type of work you want to do, and is the surest way for you to do more of it. If you hate to tattoo little crosses and tribal designs, for example, then leave them out of your book and off your website. If all you want to tattoo is color portraits, fill it full of portraits. If you have not done enough to fill a portfolio, then do them on yourself or friends for free. You need to show the world that you can tattoo before they are going to ask you for it. Many of the early tattoos that got me noticed were done for free or in trade with friends who traveled to conventions and showed off my work.


There are many different ways to present your portfolio: a simple photo album, a slide show on a laptop, a collage of photos in a frame, the Internet or even your iPod. Whatever works best for you to get people to see your work is fine, but I prefer a typical photo album with large, full-sized 8½” x 11” photo paper that I print directly from my computer–quite often on the day I do the tattoo. People like to put their hands on things, and being able to sit in a chair with your book in their lap just might make them a little more comfortable with your work.

It is better to have a portfolio of your few best pieces than a bunch of old tattoos for which you don’t want to be remembered. You may feel bad for taking so-and-so’s tattoo out of your book, but, if you are beyond that point in your stills, take it out and start a whole new book with only your ten or fifteen best. Better to keep the portfolio small rather than making it so large that people get bored or overwhelmed. Do not let hurt feelings stand in the way of your progression as an artist and, if people give you a hard time, explain to them that you are only showing your most current work. And… if they would like to get a new tattoo that is more representative of where you are today as an artist, you would be happy to schedule an appointment.

(Larry can be found at Tattoo City Skin Art Studio in Lockport, IL.)

Read more from Larry here:

Larry Brogan: Scheduling Appointments and Taking Deposits

Larry Brogan: Tattoo Convention Booth Set Up (Part I)

Larry Brogan: Developing a Style

Larry Brogan: Detailed Hand Drawn Stencils

Larry Brogan: How To Make Stencils with a Thermofax Machine

Larry Brogan: Mapping Out Large Scale Tattoo Projects

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