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How to Build an Art Portfolio For College Applications

By November 20, 2023Fine Arts

If you’re considering pursuing a fine arts degree in college, you probably know how important it is to have a portfolio prepared for the application process. This portfolio isn’t just a collection of your artwork though. It’s also the chance to showcase your creativity, skill level, and artistic journey. Admissions committees who review portfolios can learn about your artistic voice and see the potential growth an artist can have in their program. With some time, effort, and thoughtful curation, you can craft a compelling portfolio that leaves a strong impression as part of your college application.

Check For Portfolio Requirements

Every college has its own application process, so you’ll need to look for portfolio and application guidelines for each school you plan on applying to. There should be information regarding deadlines, the size and format of work to include, and labeling instructions. Some portfolios may request digital or hardcopy versions of your artwork. You may also be required to add supplementary information, such as a brief summary, along with your portfolio. Since it can take several months to put together a portfolio from scratch, you’ll have to give yourself ample time.

Check Out Portfolio Examples

One of the best ways to learn how to create an art portfolio is to look at examples. Start by asking your art teachers if they have a portfolio of their own that you could review or if they can connect you with students who have compiled portfolios before. Even going to an art gallery and seeing how a collection is presented can give you some inspiration. Remember, don’t focus on the quantity of the artwork, but rather the kind of work included, the order in which work was presented, and the range of mediums used to create pieces.

Start Planning It Out

The first step in planning is taking stock of all the artwork you’ve completed over the last year or two. Try to stick within this timeframe; recent work most accurately reflects your current skill level and artistic style. When picking out artwork, think about the pieces that best showcase your range of skills, the message you want to share, how you want to showcase your creativity and originality, and what you are most passionate about. The works you could include could be made of various mediums, focus on a single art form, be connected to each other, or be independent of each other.

Review Your Portfolio

You should have teachers, advisors, and other artists take a look at your portfolio once you have a first draft. Another set of eyes can look for technical problems and offer advice that plays to your strengths. While having outside insight is helpful, you should ultimately pick pieces for your portfolio that you think best represent yourself as an artist. After all, you want your portfolio to reflect yourself and your perspective rather than someone else’s.

Finalize Your Portfolio

Pay attention to the organization of your portfolio. Your composition should start and end with your best pieces. You should also be able to describe and discuss each piece that you include in your portfolio, especially if your application process involves an in-person presentation. Villa Maria College has Portfolio Day where local high school artists can showcase their portfolios, earn scholarships, and have their work reviewed by professionals.

Explore Your Passion at Villa

Artists belong at Villa Maria College. We give you the freedom to create, master your craft, and share your perspective through art. Reach out today to learn more about our fine arts program. We also encourage you to schedule a visit to our on-campus art gallery.