If your applying for a character animator position you should think about submitting an art portfolio with your application. But it’s not always necessary or even appropriate to send in an art portfolio these days…I’ll explain…
An Art portfolio is a collection of your art work. You can use it to display your drawing skills, digital art, color work, sculpting or any other type of visual art.
If your studying to become an animator (especially a 2D animator), you should edit your portfolio to show skills that are relevant to animation, ie drawing skills. Art portfolios for animation are mostly line and contour hand drawings. (that includes using a tablet or cintiq).
In my opinion, the most appropriate use of an animators art portfolio is if you are applying for 2D animator – you would want to show your drawing skills because you’d be using them in this role – but most likely using Flash, Toonboom/Harmony and drawing on a tablet or cintiq.
It isn’t really necessary to submit a portfolio if your applying for a 3D animator position on a TV series. If you’re applying for 3D animator on a feature film you could include it if you feel it’s really impressive and will help you stand out from the rest.
Just like demo reels, you don’t want to include work that will lessen your value or leave any kind of negative impression. Harshly edit your art work down to only the absolute best stuff.
My advise is to put your character/cartoon drawings first and life drawing second. If you have any other work that you would like to show, put it in the back. The idea is to always put the most relevant stuff at the forefront, again like the resume.
Always use copies for your portfolio, especially when your sending it in the mail. Studios don’t want to be responsible for original art work.
And of course, put it all together in a neat package. The work will speak for itself, but if it’s paper clipped, stapled together or rolled up it’s not going to leave a very good impression. Duo tangs with plastic sleeves work well. I like the kind with the plastic front cover – these are great if you want to include a Front Page with your name and personal info (email, phone number, graphic etc…)