Portfolio Tips That Can Get You Art Scholarships

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Many art programs offer scholarships for students with exceptional portfolios. In addition to saving on tuition, applying to scholarships gives you experience in presenting your artwork in a professional way and marketing yourself as a serious artist.

Understand the instructions

Scholarship applications usually have additional requirements that are to be included with the portfolio submission. Check the program website to see if there is a required essay, statement of intent or letters of reference.  If the submission guidelines are unclear contact a member of the admissions committee. Often submissions are ‘one-time’ only so be sure to pay close attention to the instructions.

Select your portfolio pieces carefully

Your portfolio ought to be more than a collection of your favorite pieces.  Give serious thought to what is included and why.  A well-rounded portfolio achieves a balance between overpowering/convoluted and meager/one-dimensional while still demonstrating your versatility as an artist.

Organize your portfolio

A presentation is essential.  Even the most impressive portfolio can suffer from the sloppy presentation.  If you’re concerned about smearing some pieces, portfolio sleeves or laminate can prevent charcoal or pencil from smudging.

The portfolio reviewing committee will want to assess your portfolio without worrying about losing or dropping pieces. Unless the submission guidelines say otherwise, organize your pieces in a binder or folder. Matting your work can also add a polished look and feel to a portfolio, especially photographs.

A physical portfolio should have your contact information clearly visible so the committee can contact you and return the portfolio after the assessment.

Ensure copies of your art have sufficient lighting, comply with size requirements, and are properly formatted. Your images should not be too dark, grainy or difficult to make out.

Prepare for the presentation

Some art scholarships may require you to present your work or give some other form of an oral presentation. If there is a presentation component, treat it equally to the portfolio.  If you’re presenting, practice your presentation in the weeks leading up to the event.  If you’re writing an essay, give lots of thought to you want to say about your pieces and the creative process.


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