How to Prepare for an Art College Interview

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How to Prepare for an Art College Interview

Preparing for an art college interview can be nerve-wracking. Aside from your portfolio, the interview determines whether or not the arts program you applied for will accept you. One false move can make or break your dreams of becoming a professional in your field of the fine or applied arts..

The last thing you’d want to do when coming for an art college interview is to overthink things. Ace your interview by focusing on the most important factors featured below.

Dress properly

Meet the MIA; Nicole Wankel

Image by minneapolisinstituteofarts at Flickr.

If you want to be treated seriously by the arts program, you have to dress seriously. During an art college interview, how you present yourself in front of the panel matters. Aspiring to become an artist does not give you the freedom to wear whatever you feel like wearing.Think about how you can stand out from the sea of sameness. Dress in a way that is consistent with who you are and the way you present yourself in your visual artwork in your portfolio. Set up a consistent branding message and be sure you feel comfortable and feel yourself. Start dressing more creatively long before the interview so you feel at ease.

If you’re a guy, leave the ball cap at home and have neat hair; maybe even consider a hair cut by a professional salon so you can look up to date. By wearing polished leather shoes, neat slacks or great looking jeans, and ironed shirt for your interview, you show that you’re willing to take the extra effort to become accepted. Make sure your look is up to date for that area but still uniquely you and appropriate to the profession–either have a business look, a cutting edge look or a bohemian free thinking style as per the profession’s style.

If you’re a girl dress in creative but still professional looking clothes. Consider what professionals in your chosen field dress like. This is the first impression you make- you are your first design plate or portfolio art piece so dress in a memorable way that suits your area of study. The more creative the field the more unique your clothes should be. This doesn’t necessarily mean expensive but unique and interestingly composed. Be sure to look like an impressive art work but do not over do it–make sure you can be taken seriously and show the confidence that your work can stand on it’s own–don’t outshine your portfolio pieces or it may look like you are trying to make up for weak work.

Know your art

Pablo Picasso, The Reservoir, Horta de Ebro, viewer

Image by profzucker at Flickr.

Prior to the interview, you need to do research about the arts in general. Read about the popular artists from different styles and their respective works. Learn the different principles and philosophies that govern the creation of various types of art. These become crucial when the panel starts asking you to explain your works based on your inspirations from people or ideas.

By knowing all these, you gain a better understanding on your own works and become more passionate about the arts.

Researching the types of arts that are showcased in your portfolio can help you to know your own work better. Be careful to let your work and interests guide you, do not try to guess what you think they want to hear; be real and honest about what truly interests you. That’s what they want to know about. They can tell if you are lying or trying to impress them; that will definitely not get you in–it’s a sure-fire way to be declined! They want to get to know you and what you are made of so talk about the arts that you love and be prepared to explain why.

Revise your works

Your portfolio to be presented to the panel must contain your best possible works to date. They should showcase your current skills and give a hint to your potential once you receive proper training from their program.

If you have old works that need to be finished or improved, make sure you have done so before the interview. Keep in mind that art is never finished – there are always better ways you can  continue to build on the creative process.

Present your works with pride and craftsmanship. Don’t just put in what you think they want to see. While you should check what the requirements are and ensure you have fulfilled them, you need to go deeper than the nuts and bolts of covering various types of work.

What colleges are most interested in seeing are your ideas and your thought process. So be sure to show at least one project through the entire thought and design process from sketch book concepts, research and development and stages of creative process. Show who you are now and where you want to go with your work. Demonstrate a genuine passionate for the arts.

Explain your work properly

Your ability to communicate your portfolio to the panel will help in making your artwork more accessible to people. As mentioned, it is through proper research of the different styles, artists, and principles that will allow you to answer their questions about your works much easier. It would also help if you practice your answers in front of a mirror to help you get more comfortable when talking in front of the panel. The more at ease you are during the interview, the easier the answers will come to you. Go in with three things in mind that you want to convey that you think are important to your work being understood. Rehearse different ways that you could fit these into the conversation.

Be yourself

New York teenagers, Oct 2012 - 15

Image by yourdon at Flickr.

The last thing you want to do during an art college interview is to pretend to be someone you’re not. Doing research prior to the interview should only help you give a better understanding on why you want to have a career in the arts . You should not force yourself into liking things about the arts you’re not interested in or try to sound smart by dishing out facts about art just because you think it would increase your chances of getting accepted. Just answer the questions the way you’d normally answer.

Provide them your your own thoughts and avoid saying something that you think they want to hear. Show them that you are a well rounded person; indicate that you are well read, are acquainted with philosophy, interested and involved in current culture, politics, the environment, music or sports. Find a way to convey your love for the arts—maybe tell a story that illustrates your passion and determination to pursue your goals. Use clear and decisive language. Look for more articles from me on how you can do this so that you can stand out in a sea of sameness and get that coveted spot in the program of your dreams.

Prepare for questions that may be asked to you

While you can’t truly be prepared for all the possible questions that will be asked to you during your college question, at least have an idea of the more common ones the professors will likely ask.

In our post “As Told by Art Teachers: College Interview Questions Students Should Prepare For,” we have asked art teachers about questions art college applicants should expect during their interview, and their answers didn’t disappoint. Click here to read the entire article.

If you need more help with how to prepare for your art college interview…

You may have to consult an arts professor for advice on how to make an art portfolio for college and present them in front of the panel. Karen Kesteloot, owner of, is an experienced art teacher who has taught Crafts and Design, Illustration, Interior Design,  Perspective and Rendering, and Figure Drawing at community colleges. She is also well versed in a variety of painting, sculpture and drawing media.


If you are looking for help before your interview at no risk, then try out her FREE college assessment by clicking here or on the banner below.

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