• Sophie van Os

How to create your Art school portfolio

“I would love to go to art school, but I don’t know where to start.” I hear this all the time and used to relate to that feeling. I now own my own company and work in the design field. But to get there, I first had to go through the process of applying to art school. 


Is it your dream to go to art school the minute after you graduate high school? Then you need to start at the beginning. Unfortunately there are more people with your dream. But there’s only one YOU. Your talent, your vision, your creations are unique and you need to share this with the world. In order to get into art school you have to fully understand the admission process and create your art school portfolio. This is not something you want to underestimate. Going through the admission process can be difficult, but it’s definitely not impossible. 



What to keep in mind before you start working on your Art school portfolio


The 3 most important things are: preparation, preparation and preparation. You have to be prepared to convey your creative talent somehow. One of the best ways to do this is by creating a portfolio through which you will demonstrate your keen interest into a wide range of creative subjects. You need some time before the admission day to prepare for this. You do not want to rush this. My suggestion would be to take 2 to 3 months to properly prepare. On top of  that you have to be ready to talk about your work, talk about yourself and answer difficult questions like: “Why do you think you fit in our program?” or “Why did you build your portfolio this way?” Saying that this is your ultimate dream, just won’t be enough, because that is what most people say. You have to be able to dig a little deeper and convince them that there simply is no other option than to take you on in their program. 


 You also have to be able to explain why you made certain choices when creating your portfolio. Questions like: ‘Why did you choose this fabric?’, ‘Why did you decide to choose more organic shapes rather than geometric shapes?’ or ’What was your source of inspiration?’ To be able to answer these questions swiftly and intelligibly, you need to keep track of the choices you make, keep track of your process. It is this process, your thought process and underlying reasoning, that they want to hear. 



What goes into your Art portfolio?


Let’s talk about your portfolio. As a creative mind, the admission officers want to see your talent. What better way is there than to show it through your  portfolio. As I mentioned before, the best way is to use a wide range of creative media in order to demonstrate your creative abilities. Let’s say you know for sure that you want to become a fashion designer. No, let me rephrase that: you will become a fashion designer. You can show the admission officers all kinds of drawings, sketches, manufactured clothings, fabric samples, etc. like any other student will. You could also try and increase your chances by being different and show that you have a wider vision and interest in the art world. You could think about showing them photos you took with a certain subject in mind, drawings of an interior, sketches of faces, research on certain social developments. More than only fashion related subjects to demonstrate that you are not like the rest, but have a much broader vision of the art world. That’s what they want to see!




What is the bare minimum for an Art school portfolio?


Now, before you start working on your portfolio, make sure to check the requirements of the art school (or schools) you want to apply to. Is there a deadline? How many works of my portfolio do I need to bring? Can I bring research material or does it only have to be the end product? Do I send my work via email or do I have to upload something and therefore do I need to digitize my work? Do I need to write an application essay? If you look these things up beforehand, there will be no surprises for you. Remember: preparation is key! Use this to your advantage.


In general, you should have at least 15 pieces in your portfolio covering a wide range of subjects with at least 5 focused on the specific field you want to study. Let’s say you want to study photography. I would advise you to  at least have 5 pieces in your admission portfolio related to photography and add to these 10 of your  best pieces  like drawings, sketches, fabrics, sculptures, etc. 


So remember to prepare well in advance and have a good look at what the minimum requirements are! Have at least 15 pieces in your portfolio and be prepared for questions they might ask you about your work. If you’re looking for tips and tricks on how to do all of this, don’t hesitate to sign up for our course right here.

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