My day job is working as a particular type of artist (a finish retoucher), and since it is a craft one needs to have examples of their work to show to others. Think of it as a resume of projects, as if you were sell yourself as a author by putting together a book (for that is what we call them) based on a small snippets, a page or two, from each story or novel. The variety of different “books” or portfolios, out there is amazing, and as they migrated to the internet they have been able to overcome one of the biggest limitations of a printed portfolio; that of space. In the past, one could only carry so many examples to a prospective client, so you had to pick and choose carefully what you would show. Now you can put up on your website literally thousands of pieces. Some retouchers seem put up to have every piece they ever completed.
I’ve always found this process painstaking. Every time I go to organize my work it is like exhuming the dead. The weight of my knowledge (or lack thereof) seems to lay on every piece. Every success or failure has imbued the art with its heady aroma until I start to feel lost, as if I am trapped into the past. It is the most disagreeable of sensations.
Which is why I keep my portfolio small. I don’t want to show everything I’ve done. Heck I don’t want to remember them all. Some of these pieces carry with them some sweet memories, but most of them were work, hard work. And often they carry with them every disagreeable client decision, every stupid limitation brought on by bad photography, or poor planing at the shoot. Every project has its share of mistakes, and they all have to be worked out by the finisher. Literally, the buck stops here. So while you might look at a piece and see the smiling people, I look at it and see the all the mistakes I had to gloss over, or I see the better way we had the art before the client turned it into a piece of shit.
For me, when the project is over, I am DONE with it. Done with a capital D. Finished. I guess that is why I call myself a finisher.