How to Prepare an Art Portfolio | Examples and Advice
Applying for College, University or a Foundation Course
Whether you are applying to college, university or another art & design based course, you will need a portfolio to showcase your work, ideas and skills. I've created this page in order to keep information from all over the Internet together in one place to make it handy to browse through.
There are some great videos showing you what to include, what not to include, and some examples of other student's work. Each and every place you apply to will have their own set of guidelines and particular elements they require from an applicant, but you will find general guidelines on this page which apply to most places.
It is important that you show a range of work and skills without putting too many of your pieces in the one portfolio. Only pick your best, most recent work and present each piece of art well. Don't wait until the last minute, and make enough work so you can edit together the best portfolio for each course you apply to.
I hope you find this resource useful :-)
Preparing Your Art Portfolio
Top Art School Books & Portfolio Guides
General Portfolio Outline
Choosing what to include in your portfolio can be difficult because there are no definite rules or instructions, so it's something that only you can really decide. Most art programs will request artworks that fall into 3 different categories; observational art, personal art or a home exam. Sometimes only works from one of these categories is required, whereas sometimes you will need to submit all three types.
The most important thing is to always check exactly what the college/university you are applying to requires. Guidelines differ between each course and each each school.
- Category One: Observational Art
Observational art is a traditional form of drawing or painting where the subject is something real that you can see, such as a landscape scene, a still life arrangement, or a figure model for instance. This is an integral area of art because it proves that you can transfer something you are viewing in real life onto paper realistically and accurately. This type of art is usually drawn (in pencil or charcoal mostly) although paint can also be used.
The art paper/canvas size should be quite substantial (around 18" x 24" at least.)
- Category Two: Personal Art
Personal art is the work done independently in your own time, and should reflect your own personal interests. This category allows you much more freedom than the other categories, and you can use pretty much any media you want to. For instance, you may favor the traditional methods of drawing or painting, or you may want to showcase your interest and skills in areas such as photography, video, sculpture, ceramics, performance art or animation. This is your chance to show self-motivation and drive, as well as show what you are all about.
If observational art is to prove your technical skills, personal art is to show your personality and passion for the subject. It is an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
- Category Three: Home Exam
The home exam is a specific piece of work you must complete by yourself at home; the subject of which is chosen by the college/university/school. It may be an extremely simple brief such as 'bicycle' or 'draw your room', or the assignment may have a few different parts to it.
- The interview part of an art school application is important too; a decision is not based purely on your portfolio. Therefore, be sure to prepare yourself by thinking about what questions the interviewer could ask you - so that you aren't taken by surprise in the interview - and make sure you know why you created everything that features in your portfolio. Perhaps try to set up a mock interview with your teacher as practice. The more preparation you do, the more confident you should feel. Be enthusiastic about your work.
- Usually you will be asked to provide sketchbooks alongside your main portfolio, but make sure to check what each course requires you to submit. Don't tear out pages from your sketchbook because you think they are 'messy' or 'not good enough'; sketchbooks are for researching, exploring ideas and sketching roughly so they don't need to be perfect. Don't worry :)
Art Portfolio Review Videos
Make a good first impression by presenting your portfolio in a smart case.
Art Portfolio Advice
Art Portfolio Examples & Ideas
- Portfolio Artwork Photos
A student's work on show.
- Glasgow University Portfolios
You can download a slideshow showing examples of work.
- Portfolio Submissions
Some excellent examples of finished drawings.
- Google Images
An easy way to browse ideas from around the web.
- AP Arts Portfolio Examples
Split into 2D, 3D and drawing categories.
- LAC College Portfolios
I really like these few showcased examples.
Art Portfolio Examples
200 Projects to Get You Into Art School
This book is ideal for those hoping to get into art school as it gives mini lessons on 200 different projects - you can just pick and choose the ones which interest you.
There is also a section specifically dedicated to putting together a portfolio the right way, plus examples of art school sketchbooks.
Art Portfolio Guidelines
- Preparing Your Portfolio
Including how to present your work.
- Creating the Best Portfolio
From The Independent newspaper.
- Guide to Sketchbooks
Fun visual information.
- Writing an Artist's Statement
Advice on how many paragraphs to write and what they should contain.
- Portfolio Advice Day
Info and advice.
- What To Include
Elements that are looked for in a portfolio.
- Art & Design Advice
Excellent advice on portfolios.
- UK Creative Arts Forum
Search for advice or ask your own questions.
- 10 Top Tips
Short and simple tips for organising your portfolio.
- Sample Artist Statements
To give you an idea of what to include.
Art Sketchbook Pages
Go to http://www.drawing-tutorials-online-blog.com/ to browse the other videos in this fantastic series of sketchbook examples.