Good portfolio branding gives weight to a student’s college art and design application. As mentioned in our previous article, as an art student you must be able to clearly communicate your brand through your portfolio. And there must be something about your brand that sets you apart from the other applicants and distinguishes you in the eyes of decision-makers. If you have this you have a better chance of securing a spot in the art or design program of your choice.
To give you a better sense of how you as a student can brand yourself before you’ve even begun your career, watch this video of portfolio coach Karen Kesteloot give her take on the importance of good portfolio branding.
In keeping with our commitment to get you into a great college and enrich your passion for art and design, below are ten sure-fire ways to the creation of a good portfolio brand.
1. Decide how you want to be perceived
Do not leave perception to chance—if you don’t manage your message, you could get inadvertently branded as undesirable—late, sloppy, dull or indifferent. Choose your greatest strength and strongest personality trait and create a look in all presentation modes that embodies those strenghts.
2. Create a consistent look in all your presentation modes
Branding should not only be evident in your portfolio but also in everything you do. Your personality, manners, and attitude, as well as your writing and verbal skills, should share the same traits as your portfolio. If you are a highly creative and outgoing person, dress flamboyantly, have highly creative and cutting edge expressive pieces in your portfolio, a cover that stands out, and a verbal presentation style that exudes your passion for the arts. Choose a branding that fits well into your chosen field; a more chic and sophisticated look might be called for if you are studying interior design than if you are studying animation or fine art.
3. Dress accordingly
Presentation matters, which is why your dress should also reflect your branding as an artist. Of course, you should still strive to look pleasant in front of the professors. At least semi-formal clothing as opposed to casual wear lets you command and gain the respect of interviewers. Dress in the style that you have set up for your overall brand, be it bohemian, cutting edge modern, or dramatically flamboyant. Choose the colours and style that are consistent with your portfolio graphics. Be sure all aspects of your appearance present the same look including hair and shoes.
4. Arrive early to your interview
Being early for an interview shows how prepared and serious you are, and ensures that the professors won’t have to wait for you—a sure way to be branded as unconcerned. Also, being late means that you are unprepared for the interview and inconsiderate of the privilege granted to you by the arts program.
Valerie Sommerville recommends against using your mobile device while waiting—instead watch and observe or talk quietly with your peers. She also recommends sitting forward and showing enthusiasm when talking with the professors. She remarked how surprised she was when she saw her peers slouching, texting and acting as if they were bored and disinterested. She thinks she got accepted in part because she was one of the few who showed focused interest and exhibited a positive and friendly attitude.
5. Practice three points for your interview message
During the interview, you may be asked to speak about your piece and about who you are and why you want to attend that college. Prepare a message that revolves around your goals in the arts and the importance of pursuing arts in the higher education. Choose 3 main points that you think convey a strong message to your interviewer about why you should be admitted into their program.
Three things are easy to remember even when you are nervous. If the interviewer strays off onto other topics after you answer their question, bring them back to the points you want to make. To help you remember and remain calm and focused during the interview, write the three points down and practice them diligently days before your interview. You could even make cue cards. Make your message clear, heartfelt, truthful and straight to the point so the professors can pick up the points easily. For greater impact think about how you can back up your brand with what you say.
Go to the next page for the rest of the tips on how to maintain good portfolio branding!