Art Portfolio Preparation Resources

Preparing Art Portfolios for CollegeDoes the thought of helping a student prepare their portfolio for colleges intimidate you-it does me!  Having a great portfolio can help student’s get into the college they want & open doors for scholarships!

I have some students who are interested in pursing an art degree, so we have been working on their portfolios. I came along these websites & videos in researching what we need to present the best portfolios possible. They all have great information!

What exactly is a portfolio?

It’s a collection of your best pieces of artwork that you submit for review when you apply to an art program.
Art Portfolio Prep
Selections for your portfolio should express your interest and aptitude for a serious education in the arts.
  • The pieces you select should illustrate diversity in technique and variety in subject matter
  • You may display work in any medium (oils, photography, watercolors, pastels,etc.)
  • Pieces can either black-and-white or color.
  • Your work can include classroom assignments, independent projects, and pieces from your sketchbook.
The first step is to create a list of colleges that you are planning to apply to and contact each of their admissions departments to obtain their particular portfolio and admissions requirements. Sometimes they put the requirements online. Most art programs will want to see works that fall into three distinct categories: observational art, personal art or a home exam. Some colleges will require a combination of two or three categories, and others will want to see only one category.
Observational Art
Observational art is drawing or painting in a traditional method using a still life, figure model, portrait or landscape as the subject and rendering the subject as accurately as possible. The image should not be taken from a photograph or the artists’ imagination, but from real life. Size of the artwork should be approximately 18′′ x 24′′ or larger in scale and fill the entire surface of the paper or canvas. Most work in this category is done in pencil, charcoal, or other drawing mediums, but it can also include painting and collage.
Personal Art
Personal art is the work done outside of a classroom situation and reflects the artists’ unique interests in use of materials, subject matter and concept. Work can be completed in any media including (but not limited to) drawing, painting, photography, mixed media, digital/computer art, film/video, ceramics, sculpture, animation and performance art.
Home Exam
The home exam consists of specific work that has been required by a particular college or department. (Example: Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in the past has asked that all portfolios include a drawing of a “bicycle”.)

LOTS MORE INFO in handout I made for my students from these articles (FREE): Art Portfolio Preparation Handout

Example College Portfolio Requirements:
Freshman applicants should submit a portfolio of 12 to 20 pieces that represents your best and most recent work from high school (secondary school). Your portfolio can include examples of drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and work in other media. It should emphasize your strengths. The portfolio may also represent your interests and involvement outside the classroom. It is strongly suggested that some samples of drawing from observation (rather than from imagination or copied from photographs) be included.

Great articles on Senior Art Portfolio Preparation:

Impress with a great looking portfolio!

Art Portfolio Case – Artist Portfolio Carrying Case – Perfect for Art Students and Artists – 36.5 x 1.5 x 24.5 Inches, Black

ITOYA 18 inch x 24 inch Original Art Profolio Presentation Book/Portfolio- for Art, Photography, and Documents


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