Getting Your Portfolio Ready for Design/Art Schools Pt. 2

So, you want to submit a portfolio for Art/Architecture/Design school. Don’t freak out. It’s ok. If you like art and design it’s easy and fun to do. There is one thing you should remember though: even if a portfolio is not required, you should submit one. This portfolio is your chance to show this school your personality and the creativity that they would miss out on by not accepting you.

Early Junior Year

Map out what each school wants in your portfolio. Research the portfolio requirements for each of the schools that interest you. Make sure to take note of:

1. How they want you to submit your portfolio (slideroom, print, binder, mail, etc.)
2. What kind of work needs to be in the portfolio (direct observational, self-portrait, sketches, etc.)
3. What the school is looking for in your portfolio (innovation, development of ideas, visual thinking, etc.)

Each school will be different in their portfolio requirements. Some will be very specific and others will leave it open to your interpretation.

Once you have all these requirements in front of you:
• Organize and categorize your work.
• Figure out what you are missing, and fill in those gaps with new pieces of art.
• Get another set of eyes to look at your work. Art teachers, community artists, or even the college campus’ portfolio reviewers are a few good people to ask to look at your work. Also, consider attending National Portfolio Day. You can check their website to see when they will be in your city.
• It is very important that YOU make the final decision on what will be in your portfolio. Your portfolio reflects who you are as an artist and a designer. You want your dream school to see who you are as an artist so they can make sure their program is a great fit for you.
• Don’t focus your portfolio completely on the program you are applying for (example: If applying for an architecture program it is not necessary to make your portfolio center around floor plans and drafting… this may actually hurt your chances of acceptance. Design schools want to work with a clean slate. They want to teach you how to work through the design process. The more prior knowledge that you have the harder it will be for you to think outside of the box. One of my first design projects was to design and build something to sit on. The next day, all of my studio mates and I presented a chair to our professor. He then told us that none of us had completed the assignment correctly. He wanted us to re-imagine what could be sat on and why we would want to sit on it. We can never forget what a chair looks like, but the less we know about chairs the more we can innovate on what it means to sit on something.

– Lara R.

Be on the lookout for part three in the coming weeks!