What makes a successful art portfolio? The answer to this question may vary depending on who you ask, but within the context of college admissions, there are a few key elements that most art programs look for.
Demonstrate your drawing abilities.
As a creative, a basic understanding of drawing will serve you well regardless of your desired career path. In fact, many art programs recommend applicants include at least one drawing in their portfolios, illustrating the ability to depict the world on paper realistically or imaginatively.
Emphasize your skills.
No matter where you are on your artistic journey, you possess a skill set that should be highlighted in your portfolio. Don’t be afraid to experiment and go beyond your artistic limits; this will indicate your willingness to try something new and stretch your creativity. Additionally, be sure to include works that exemplify your attention to detail and comprehension of the building blocks of art.
Present a variety of pieces.
As you create or begin to select your best work for applications, you’ll want to showcase your ability to express yourself through different mediums. The inclusion of both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional pieces is encouraged for most portfolios, as this is a clear display of artistic range. Of course, you should call attention to your strengths and preferred medium(s), but consider exploring varied ways to spotlight your unique point of view.
Pro Tip: Give yourself enough time to plan and develop your portfolio. It’s never too early to get a head start!
Take quality pictures of your work.
Documenting the artistic process and end results through high-quality photographs is an integral yet often overlooked step in portfolio creation. Good news: you don’t need to be a professional photographer or own expensive gear. However, using your available resources to ensure that your artwork is in focus, well-lit, free of a distracting background, and appropriately positioned will add a noticeable layer of professionalism to your portfolio.
Play up your personality and creative vision.
No two portfolios are exactly the same, but those that succeed often reflect an artist’s distinct character and style. So be yourself, and remember that an art portfolio is much more than a collection of work. It is a one-of-a-kind visual expression of your past learnings, present identity, and artistic aspirations.