Advice for building art portfolio for college application process

Jake Dolan, Staff Writer

Building a good college art portfolio is an essential step in the college application process for art majors. Those trying to build a portfolio may not know how to go about the process.

For beginners, the University of the Arts London describes an art portfolio as: “a collection of your work, which shows how your skills and ideas have developed over a period of time. It demonstrates your creativity, personality, abilities and commitment, and helps us to evaluate your potential.”

An art portfolio may not just be for paintings or sketches. It could be photos, graphic design or more. When working on an art portfolio, there is quite a bit the person should keep in mind.

  1. Don’t wait until it is too late. The best portfolios are started in the student’s summer going into junior year or once they are in their junior year.
  2. Limit the portfolio to 8-10 pieces in order to ensure only the best work gets in. The pieces should demonstrate versatility and technical skill. Every college has different criteria, so it is important to look into what the college wants. Colleges also have prompts on their websites to help students think outside the box in their artwork and portfolios.
  3. Only choose artwork that you are confident in. AP Art teacher Quan Duong suggests students make sure their portfolio is expressive, features a variety of entry points and is representative of them. Duong also warns against adding Anime and Manga to an art portfolio.
  4. Get outside perspectives of the portfolio. Students can get this from their peers, teachers or art portfolio conventions. High schools often will host local art portfolio conventions for students during November that representatives from in-state colleges will attend.

The national portfolio day has most of the top colleges represented. Attending these portfolio days is a great way for students to get feedback on their portfolios from colleges they may be interested in.

Although a portfolio is a major part of the application process, it isn’t the only part that matters. Students should make sure they are maintaining good grades and extracurriculars in order to stand out to colleges.

Senior Amir Shad applied and got accepted into both New Jersey Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design for product design. His advice is to “study a good amount for the SAT and keep a high GPA, as this will help you get merit scholarships from the colleges,” Shad said.