I just returned from a shoot in Maine and I stopped by Scott Mullenberg’s studio in Portland. Scott produces custom portfolios for visual artists. Originally from Des Moines, IA, home to my alma mater, Drake, he’s been working one on one with clients for over twenty years.
I worked with him myself two years ago when he designed books for me and the work he did is amazing. I think its really important for photographers to collaborate with other artists, like Scott, who will help make our work stand out and take the presentation to the next level. I asked Scott a few questions about his expertise, his inspiration and the process he goes through with photographers. Here’s what he had to say:
JHansonPhoto: How did you get your start in portfolio making?
SM: “From the very beginning of my career as a bookbinder there was always a call to work with artists to build portfolio structures to house their work. About ten years ago I decided to move from the restoration of old books and focus my attention on portfolios. That quickly became the driving force that defined my expertise and direction.”
JHansonPhoto: What was your motivation to make the change?
SM: “A couple things come to mind. I responded to the greater variety of materials available when it came to new fabrications versus restoring an 18th century book. Through that, there’s a greater return in satisfaction when a new portfolio is completed. This process became extremely informative as I worked to define the direction I wanted to pursue. And then there’s the collaborative aspect of working together with someone to actualize a tangible, functional, working object.
JHansonPhoto: How do you begin a new collaboration with a visual artist?
SM: “It always starts with an introduction of sorts, via phone, email or skype, looking at their work, their brand, if you will, and working together to define what fabrications will best suit their needs for showcasing the work.”
JHansonPhoto: Any advice to give visual artists with creating a portfolio to present their work?
SM: “Try not to be daunted with the details in the beginning. Seek out professionals who are able to listen and ask you the right questions as it pertains to your portfolio build-out. The portfolio is a showcase for your work, and necessarily needs to be clean, professional and functional so as to not be distracting. I always say to people, think of the outside material you choose for your portfolio as a canvas, and the painting is you, your name, your imprint, your brand…..”
JHansonPhoto: What is the most rewarding aspect of working with other artists?
SM: “That I get to collaborate with creative thinkers to fabricate structures to showcase their work. Photographers, book artists, fine artists, designers….they are all artists who are trying to make it because that’s their passion and I love working with them. There’s something so right and healthy about merging our passions with making a living.”