Preparing a Portfolio

All students applying for admission to the undergraduate programs in the School of Art must submit a portfolio containing 10-15 original works of art.

Artwork in the portfolio should represent the student's current creative and technical abilities. For high school students, this generally means work completed in their junior or senior years. Learn more about documenting and submitting your portfolio.

What should be in a portfolio?
If you have taken a number of art courses, a variety of media should be represented. Pick your best work. Selections can come from classroom assignments, sketchbooks, workshops, precollege programs, or work done "on your own" outside the classroom. When choosing pieces for your portfolio, consider subject matter as well as technique, concept, design, composition, and works that demonstrate creative problem solving.

All artwork must be original. Copies of published works are unacceptable. Primary consideration will be given to originality and creativity.

Include the following in your portfolio:

  • DRAWINGS: At least three drawings from direct observation must be included as part of your portfolio. These drawings must demonstrate a proficient use of line and value to render space and form. Drawing from observation means working directly from a real object, environment, or person (not from a photograph, a magazine, or copied from a reproduction of another artist's work). The best drawings are familiar objects (still life), self-portraits, figure drawings, landscapes, and interior/exterior environments. Observational drawing is the most important part of your portfolio and should reflect some diversity in subject matter and media such as graphite, charcoal, conte crayon, pastels, colored pencil, or pen and ink.

Additional areas that may be included: 

  • DESIGN: This can include any two-dimensional artwork or graphic design such as logos, cover designs, and posters. While craftsmanship is important and expected, the concept takes precedence. 
  • DIGITAL MEDIA: This could include digital imaging, digital video, computer animation, interactive art, and net-based projects. 
  • PAINTING: A painting from direct observation could take the place of a drawing in your portfolio. Media that can be considered include oils, acrylics, and watercolor, as well as any mixed-media pieces. 
  • PHOTOGRAPHY: This includes black-and-white, color, or digital photography. When selecting photographs, consider idea, composition, and lighting along with color or value. What makes your composition creative and unique? 
  • PRINTMAKING: This could include work done in the processes of intaglio, lithography, relief printmaking, serigraphy (silkscreen), and monoprints.
  • THREE-DIMENSIONAL: This could include work done in the areas of ceramics, glass, fibers, metals, and sculpture and may also include functional objects and furniture design.

What NOT to include in your portfolio: 

  • Old work should not be considered. Your most recent work is usually the strongest work. 
  • More is not always better. In other words, don't include more work for the sake of having a lot to show. Be sure to choose your best work. Think about quality over quantity. 
  • Copies from magazines, comic books, animation, CD covers, or movie posters are not acceptable. Remember, work should be your own. What are you trying to accomplish, convey, or express in a piece or series of pieces? 
  • Avoid overused, stereotyped, or timeworn imagery.

Learn more about applying for admission to our art programs.
For more information, contact Barbara Giorgio.