What to include

Your portfolio should be a collection of your best efforts, showcasing your individual artistic style. It should include 10 to 20 pieces of finished work using various media, styles and ideas.  For admission to an art school or a portfolio scholarship, your portfolio should show your potential to handle college-level art study.

  • Drawings from life emphasizing an understanding of light, shadow, composition, perspective, technique and value.
  • Figure/Portrait studies showing an understanding of the human form. May be completed in a variety of media, as illustrations or as fine art pieces.
  • Paintings in any media (oil, acrylic, watercolor, tempera) showing the ability to mix color and understand form. Demonstrate a familiarity with a variety of media and concepts, including both a realistic and an abstract approach.
  • Designs showing skills in using color, shape and composition and the ability to think symbolically. May be a poster design, symbol design, logo, abstract exercise, etc.
  • Three-dimensional designs demonstrating the ability to work with sculptural concepts. Ceramic works, hand-formed or from the wheel.
  • Personal choices highlighting your special abilities and skills. May include photography, crafts, jewelry, printmaking, commercial art, interior & environmental design, lettering, ceramics, etc.
  • Personal sketchbooks and preliminary studies can be included to show your thought processes in developing your final pieces. These reflect your motivation, creativity and genuine interest.

Drawing is the most basic way an artist communicates and it remains so regardless of major or career choice. Interior designers, sculptors, even photographers rely on drawing to do their jobs efficiently and well.  Your ideas and skills as an artist are reflected in your drawings.  Hence, your portfolio should include your very best drawings. Your art teacher can help you in selecting your very best work.

Whenever possible, include drawings made from observation, like self-portraits, portraits, figure drawings, still lifes and landscapes.  Work from familiar objects and/or surroundings, and always refer to subjects that have meaning to you personally.

 A strong portfolio always exhibits a personal point-of-view. Your portfolio should also demonstrate your use of color.  Such color work can be accomplished in many ways, but strong painting (oil, watercolor, acrylic) will inevitably enhance your portfolio. You may also submit pastels and drawings in other color media such as colored pencil or marker.

Composition/Design: the arrangement of shapes and forms on a page or within the boundaries of a three-dimensional artwork should be evident throughout your portfolio. By selecting your most interesting and accomplished pieces, your sense of design will clearly be evident.

Try to avoid including too many pieces depicting centered objects on a page, as this type of composition is all too common. Avoid drawings and paintings inspired from photographs, especially someone else's photograph; it is too easy to simply copy photographs.  Rather, concentrate on the familiar in your own environment. This will ensure creative and personal compositions. Don't submit drawings or paintings of "anime," super-heros or copies of cartoon characters unless they are your own designs.