Jahmale Ukson: How to build a portfolio

Key details

Date: 23rd May 2022

Author: Jade McGhee

Type: Blog

For our last Creative Industries Pathways we were lucky enough to have Jahmale Ukson, the denim master tailor, give us an inspirational talk of his background and also provide worthwhile knowledge on how to build a portfolio.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

The first tip he gave us was about confidence, don’t be afraid to ask anyone for help. Some people are consumed with thinking they have to do it themselves and can’t ask for a helping hand. Creating an environment you can work in, that is collaborative can create room for growth. You wont know everything and you can learn a lot from others.

Be honest

When creating a portfolio, be honest about what you are trying to create. Don’t be something you are not, try to remain as honest to yourself as you possibly can. If you go out of your way to try and impress a particular audience and they ask you about what you are producing, it will be hard for you to speak from your heart about what you have made and come across like you have no idea about what you have created.

Make the conversation short

Companies will be more interested in you if the conversation is shorter. Be yourself, know who you are, your aims and core points. Create something that they are not used to seeing, excite them with your new ideas. The conversation will be short as they know who you are and you have ignited an interest in them.


One key skill is being able to show your ability to collaborate with other artists or people you know in your industry. This shows that you are able to take a back seat and learn from someone else or that you are capable of working in a team to develop an idea from start to finish- making you adaptable.

Make your work visually appealing

Whether your work is physical or digital make sure that is is visually appealing and presented well. You might want to put all of your good work at the start but spread it out so people can see a range of your abilities. Having your best work at the front may mean they expect this standard through out, but your work will fluctuate during your creative process.

Stick to your core skills

As we depend more and more on technology, if you have skills such as being able to draw or paint, don’t sack these off for the dream of having digital skills. It is important to keep developing as an artist and get with the times but holding on to your core skills can help your work be unique and stand out, make sure you don’t leave them behind and keep nurturing them.

Your online persona

Social media is huge and you would be silly not to jump on the bandwagon of displaying your work online. But much like my tip to stay honest, you need to make sure you are being authentic online. On my social’s I don’t expect everything to be perfect, my images or videos, I show who I am and I display my mistakes. Nothing is perfect, and that is the beauty of art. Another thing I will say and something I have never done is follow trends, just tell your self it will happen, whatever your dream is and don’t fall into the trap of being like everyone else.

Get out of your head

We can all be our own worst enemy at times. Don’t overthink what you should or shouldn’t be doing. Always keep your work simple but not basic. Your work should be easily digested and understood from anyone who is perceiving it. If you make it overly technical it may be looked over, so think about the colours, wording and imagery and think is this too much?

Keep to a budget

I have a budget for each one of my projects and I stick to it. Don’t get too invested in spending a lot of money on what you are creating. Sometimes the ability to think on your feet and have to come with new ideas to solve problems will make you creativity flow.

Get into your creative zone

Personally, I like to listen to classical music or the sounds of nature, it helps me concentrate. I also like to collect materials, make sketches and samples to help me develop my ideas. Do what ever helps you to get in that zone.

Planning, planning and more planning

Planning can be difficult if you are like me and spontaneous. Once I get an idea I just go with it, but being able to plan what you are going to do it perfect for making a portfolio. Being able to show your idea from the start and how you have changed it can take the viewer on a journey. To add, always make sure your work is organised neatly and put in the correct order.

Want to know more about Jahmale Ukson, head over to hear to read ‘Jahmale Ukson: A Kodak moment.’

Be creative and don’t be shy with your visions. You need to be able to express yourself but also be humble enough to take criticism.
Jahmale Ukson