How To Prepare an Art Portfolio for College | Art

IIf you are starting your final year of school or college and want to study art and design at university, you may already be thinking about preparing your portfolio. So what are the key things to keep in mind and how do you decipher the formula for a winning portfolio?

It all depends on what you want to study. An animation student can spend the whole year on a 30-second film, while a fine artist will have an array of work, from sketches and paintings to text-based sculptures and pieces.

But every portfolio tries to do the same thing: secure your place on this perfect course.

Once you’ve selected the courses and institutions you want to study at, the next step is to start thinking about how to display your work for submission. The purpose of a portfolio is to give potential tutors an overview of your ideas, concepts, practices and potential.

It is a preview of your work intended to demonstrate your abilities and personal style.

Lee Paton, HND course leader at the School for the Arts Wigan, suggests showing a diversity of creative talent, media exploration, and skill development in your area of ​​specialization.

Depending on the university, a portfolio is either sent before the interview or to take with you. Either way, this should be a work that speaks for itself, as chances are you won’t get the chance to explain most of it.

Ed Jpjm, a BA in Architecture graduate from the University of Westminster, says tutors “never give you a chance to stand up and explain your entire portfolio”.

This means that the work should be read clearly, with all explanations, references or clarifications visibly demonstrated throughout. Notations, in sketchbooks or attached to the work itself, should clearly indicate the medium, scale (if it is a copy or photograph), date of creation and any notes additional.

For example, if you are including a timed life drawing done with your left hand, make sure it is clearly labeled. It demonstrates a good understanding of your practice and the ability to record the progress of your work.

Before selecting parts, it is best to check the requirements of each course. This can usually be found on the university’s website. If you have any questions, you can always call to verify.

Depending on the time of year, class requests can be inundated with questions, but they are usually pretty good at answering questions. Ask for details such as size, medium and quantity, as well as verification of this very important time frame.

The amount of work varies. 20 pieces is the average, A3 being the most common size. That doesn’t mean all of your work has to be one size, though. Smaller jobs can be mounted on plain paper and larger jobs can also be photographed and printed; the last thing a college wants is a 4ft by 8ft oil painting delivered outside its admissions office.

If you send your work, be aware that you may not get it back. On the University of the Arts website, it is clearly stated that if you are sending your portfolio by mail, you must not include originals. Universities receive a large amount of applications and they cannot always guarantee their safe return.

The most recent work is considered the most important – tutors want to see your current ideas, practices, methodologies and interests. However, your work does not need to be displayed in chronological order. It is best to start with your strongest piece. After all, first impressions count.

Kingston University Fashion BA graduate Holly Thompson says you have to make a decision about what is your best job: “If you have two or three projects that show the same skills or the same discipline, choose the strongest.

It’s important to be decisive and keep your portfolio tight and concise, a point reiterated by graduate Chris Bethall, who studied photography at Staffordshire University.

“When you apply you want to demonstrate both your technical abilities and your creativity, so keep that in mind when creating the job – only include parts if there is a reason for it.”

Keeping the arrangement neat prevents the work from being cluttered with unnecessary clutter. Lauren Miller, a Fine Arts graduate from Central Saint Martins, suggests a simple layout without any elaborate framing.

“Keeping the material as raw as possible ensures that the page stays clear,” she says.

Storytelling is an important element to consider when preparing a portfolio. The way work is presented and displayed changes the way it is read, which means the placement of parts is essential to show tutors your best abilities in the shortest possible time.

All of the included work does not have to be done in college and tutors will look for a range of interests. Matthew Shenton, a BA in Sound Art from London College of Communication, said that during the preparation of his portfolio he wanted to “show an interest in the subject that went beyond the usual”.

In addition to submitting essays to prove that he could engage in college-level texts, he mainly focused on his personal interests.

“It’s a very subjective thing, you have to discuss your job and yourself as if they are one,” he says.

At last year’s Ucas fair in Manchester, educational advisers and former tutors all gave similar advice. If you have a strong interest or hobby, from music and politics to stamp collecting and fishing, make it stand out in your personal statement or portfolio. It indicates to the tutor that you have initiative and a critical creative interest.

It is important to work closely with your current teachers. Not only do they know your strengths, but they can also give you a new perspective.

That doesn’t mean you have to follow all of the advice. The work will be chopped up and changed around; it is the nature of finding a good balance. So don’t worry if your finished portfolio doesn’t look anything like what you started with.

Tutors don’t expect work of a level that could be hooked on the Tate – they are looking for potential. You might not be sure about your defined style, but the point of art school is to experiment.

Idelle Weber, an American pop artist who has taught drawing and painting at Harvard and New York University, and has also helped teachers at the University of California, Los Angeles, says the joy of teaching is to engage with smart and crafty students.

When she selected the students for the admissions process, she looked for interesting work. The pieces didn’t need to be fully formed – if the seed of an idea was there, it didn’t matter if it wasn’t executed to the highest ideal.

When giving lectures, she often did outrageous homework, to which students always returned with original and thoughtful results.

Tutors will look for this ability in the course of your work, so make it clear. Each course looks for different qualities; for example, the drawing of life is more important in fashion than in sound design. But every portfolio should be well edited, dynamic and strong.