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The Evolution of A Portfolio

Updated: May 19, 2021

In the late 1990's I began my second career as a children's book illustrator. Or at least I tried to.

I was a full time primary teacher and I loved it. But I also wanted to draw images that were more than sketches in a book. I wanted to create images with a purpose and a use. I wanted a career in art. I wanted to be a children's book illustrator.

In those days there wasn't the paperwork demanded by principal, school board, and government like there is today. So after I had prepped for the day and marked all the students' work I had time to draw. I began to create samples of work to put into my portfolio to present to publishers.

I discovered a book that listed publishers who would accept unsolicited art portfolios. These portfolios consisted of colour photocopies, a cover letter, and a stamped self-addressed envelope for the return of my art and any correspondence. I was on my way.

Colour photocopies were expensive in those days and could only be run off at box stores that had colour copiers. But I created a stack of art to send. I had my own black ink printer so the cover letters were easy to produce. I bought a box of brown envelopes to post my images in.

And then I hit a snag. The majority of publishers were in the United States. Where was I going to get American stamps to put on my self-addressed envelopes? There wasn't the online options of today. The only place to get the stamps was in an American post office and I was in Canada.

I ended up buying American money at the bank and hunting down anyone I knew who was going to the States. "Please could you buy me $20.00 worth of US stamps", became my plea whenever I heard of someone heading to the USA. Gradually I accumulated a stack of stamps and I began to mail my portfolios.

I only was able to try to get my illustrator career going for a few years. Teaching demands on my after school time began to grow and my father passed away leaving my mother in my care. Any time I had for art dwindled away to nothing.

I can say though that two publishers did keep my portfolio and the rejection letters were kind.

Here I am now in 2021 and my portfolio is this website. I must say this is easier than the mailed version. But I do miss the thrill of the hunt to secure US stamps.

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