In addition to meeting the academic requirements for college, most art and design schools ask incoming students to present their art portfolios as part of the application. A portfolio is a collection of artworks, demonstrating how the student has developed skills and ideas over time. Portfolios are often used during the application process to help reviewers gauge the commitment, creativity, and ability of potential of art students.
The portfolio requirements and evaluation criteria vary across art schools. Whether a school is very specific in its requirements or has left portfolios more open to the student’s discretion, the challenge will be selecting what to include and planning the overall design and presentation of the portfolio.
Do your research
Spend time researching your desired schools and programs. The school website should provide clear application and portfolio guidelines, as well as important dates and deadlines. Another great opportunity to learn more about the school is to attend orientation sessions where you can speak to students already enrolled in the program.
Include art created from life
Most art schools look for the student’s ability in drawing and painting from observation. This is especially the case for students pursuing fine art, animation, or design. The purpose of works from observation is to see how the student manages to translate a 3-dimensional subject into a 2-dimensional space while still maintaining correct and intentional perspective and proportions. Note that it is surprisingly easy for reviewers to tell whether a work is from real life or a photograph.
Keep in mind that the portfolio assessment team wants a portfolio they can easily navigate. Ensure all artworks are organized and well secured before submitting.
Look at other student portfolios
It can be helpful to view and compare accepted student’s portfolios. Rather than copying another student’s work, look to these portfolios for guidance.