Do’s (and mostly) Don’ts of Art Portfolios

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An art portfolio showcases your artistic skills and potential while giving some insight into who you are as an artist.  

How do you create an impressive art portfolio?  Though are many factors that contribute to strong portfolios, there are a few crucial “don’ts” to avoid!

Don’t create a portfolio with too many or too few pieces

While portfolio requirements vary from program to program, you can probably count on about 10-20 pieces.  Include a variety of media and subject matter so that the committee can see your well-rounded abilities.  If you decide to include a single type of artwork in your portfolio, like a sketch, for example, ensure that it is of high quality.

Avoid mailing your artwork unless entirely necessary

It is best to avoid sending your original works through the mail. Mailed portfolios run the risk of getting lost, damaged or delayed which can complicate the application process. Opting to bring your portfolio in person gives you a chance to visit the school and presents the opportunity to discuss your portfolio with reviewers.

Don’t use a low-quality camera

Photographing your work is a great option if you’re including pieces that are too cumbersome to include in a physical portfolio. Use a high-quality camera to photograph your work. For optimum lighting, take your pieces outdoors on a cloudy day and hang it up. Take many shots of each piece and select the best one to include.

Bear in mind that pencil sketches are difficult to capture through photographs, especially if they are in a light led. Applications like Photoshop can correct the color and contrast. Try to keep digital adjustments to a minimum as an over-edited photo might reflect poorly on your artwork.

Don’t assemble your portfolio impulsively

Even though the creative process might be spontaneous and chaotic, the portfolio you present should not. Give serious thought into which pieces work best together and what you are trying to achieve with the portfolio.

Don’t submit a disorganized portfolio

Organize your art portfolio in a meaningful way that makes sense visually and thematically. Remember that each piece is not only seen but experienced by the viewer.


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