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London art store's wonderful slogan, by Flickr user Bryan Kennedy.

If people are aware of ShojoBeat at all, they tend to think it's a very thick manga magazine aimed at teen girls, full of nothing but comics. While it is, indeed, a thick manga monthly, it's about much more than just the serialized illustrated stories that run in it. ShojoBeat has been out for a few years and has polled its readers constantly about their likes and dislikes, so aside from the manga, they currently run a mix of sweet, fluffy articles about Japanese culture and fashion, and more serious articles aimed at readers who read manga because they're interested in becoming manga artists.

Back when I was a fine art student, a major project in our design class was the creation of a portfolio -- not in terms of a set of artwork that we'd use to represent ourselves, but in terms of the container we'd keep that artwork in. A representative from a college that a lot of my classmates hoped to attend told us that a submitting a portfolio that had been handmade with attention to detail would greatly enhance our chances of being accepted as art majors at our chosen schools. If we could make the outside of the portfolio match the work inside, in some thematic way, so much the better. (Also, purchased portfolios are pretty expensive, and most art students are already spending a lot of money on supplies!)

What I was told in school is true just about everywhere. So, for the members of its audience who wish to become professional artists, ShojoBeat published a great project on their site: directions to make an art portfolio (PDF link). The resulting portfolios are strong ones, made of wood, Gorilla Glue, and a few other things. There are three versions: a "panel portfolio" (two pieces of board with fabric handles attached), a box portfolio, and a book portfolio.

Any of these would be a great option (or gift!) for an aspiring art major, but if that doesn't describe you or someone you know, the portfolios would still be a good storage option for any unframed artwork you've purchased.



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