When thinking about creating your art portfolio for college, there are a lot of things to consider. Which pieces should you include? How many mediums are appropriate? How many pieces are enough? There is a lot to decide on, but if you start early, take your time, and ask for some guidance from teachers and counselors, you should be able to create a stunning portfolio that is sure to impress an art school.
- Research schools. Every art program is looking for different criteria when accepting portfolios. Research the schools you want to go to and make sure you have what they are looking for. It might not be as simple as creating one portfolio and sending it to several schools in the same exact format. Some want pictures or your work, some want originals, some ask you to complete a specific piece. Find out what each school is looking for and make sure you tailor your portfolio to each school.
- Gather all your artwork. Look at everything you have done at once. Looking at things together can help you decide which pieces go together the best. Decide if any piece needs to be finished or touched up. Be sure to choose artwork that shows your progression as an artist.
- Decide on your artistic vision. Try to choose between 12 and 20 pieces (depending on the requirements of the school) to photograph for the portfolio that show a cohesive vision.
- Create something new. Make sure you have new pieces in your portfolio. Try drawing a self-portrait, take photos, and check with the school where you are applying to see if they require any special pieces.
- Ask for guidance and critiques. Talk with an art teacher or guidance counselor about ways to improve your portfolio and what else you can add. If your school does not have a strong art program to help you, attending a summer art program can be a great way to get extra guidance. It also gives you a chance to create new work and try out art school, while improving your skills.
- Photograph the work. If you need to take photos of your work, make sure it looks professional and take the time to take nice pictures. Cover a table with clean white material and place it near a white or neutral colored wall. Make sure the lighting is even, and use a tripod to reduce blurring. Make small edits with an editing software if necessary.
- Write an artist’s statement. This should include your name, contact information, and a brief description of the artistic vision of the whole portfolio. You should also list the artwork in the portfolio.
- Start Early. Make sure you have plenty of time to create new work, and create a well put together showcase of your work. There is nothing worse than waiting until the last minute and rushing through a piece of artwork to meet a deadline.
As a bonus tip you may want to consider taking attending an art camp for high school students which will give you the time and resources to begin building your portfolio.
Other Programs to Consider
Architecture: Summer at Penn - This 4-week summer program for high school students offered by the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, prepares you for college admissions as you experience college life and develop your portfolio.