You’ve decided to apply to a fine arts institution for school. Before you can plan for an exciting journey that will enhance your abilities and push you to achieve things you never thought feasible, you must take a crucial first step in the application process: putting together your portfolio.
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Why Is It Important To Have An Art Portfolio?
When you apply to a visual arts school, it’s not just your transcripts and grades that the admissions board is looking at.
The portfolio is a critical factor in the decision-making process for two reasons:
The first reason is that your portfolio is the best way to demonstrate your ability as an artist. If you have a well-put-together portfolio, you can show off your creativity and artistic skills in the form of drawings, paintings, sculptures, or any other art medium that you’re proficient with. Having a portfolio of your best work, particularly those which are both excellent and different from others, provides a better idea of what to expect from you as an artist if you were to be enrolled in the school.
The second reason is that, often, a portfolio can reflect your dedication to art. If you’re someone who has been practicing and honing your skills for years, it will show in your portfolio. Conversely, if you’re someone who only dabbled in art or never took it seriously, your portfolio will reflect this too.
What Should An Art Portfolio Include
Every school has different portfolio requirements for an art portfolio. It is a good idea to read through all of the needs before creating your portfolio.
Most popular items in a portfolio:
Cover letter – This is the letter where you introduce yourself and attach all of your other documents. To learn how to draft a cover letter visit, How To Write A Cover Letter.
Resume or curriculum vitae – A resume or cv (or even both) provides a summary of the formal education, job experience, skills, and artistic training that you have.
Work samples – This is the main part of your portfolio, where you showcase your best artwork. Usually anywhere from 5-10 pieces are required, though this may vary.
References – Sometimes art schools will ask for letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to your skills as an artist.
It is usually a good idea to have your portfolio website domain name or at the very least your email address, printed on your resume and/or CV.
Table of contents – This is a list of all of your artwork, in the order, it appears in your portfolio. It’s helpful for schools to be able to jump around through your portfolio, so this lets them do that fairly easily.
Contact page – This lets schools reach you to ask questions, request more information, or confirm that they received your portfolio.
A personal statement or short essay (artist statement) – This is a prose essay that tells the story of your art and how you became an artist.
Artist résumé – A shorter, bulleted list of your education, exhibitions, professional experience, awards, etc.
Supporting materials – This can be anything from a CD or DVD of your artwork to an extra portfolio if you have one.
Collection of work (only showcase your highest quality original work) – A minimum of 5 pieces is required, but many art schools prefer to see more.
Self-portrait – A photograph or drawing of you as an artist.
Submit a variety of work – Avoid submitting all drawings or all paintings.
Sketches to show the artistic process – Include the sketches to show the thought process behind your pieces.
Letters of recommendation (optional) – Ask teachers, professionals, or other artists who can speak to your skills and dedication to art.
A wide range of subject matter and different styles – Some art schools want to see a cohesive body of work that reflects your personal aesthetics, while others are more interested in the range of your abilities.
How To Create A Portfolio: The Basics
Creating a portfolio can be daunting, but it’s manageable if you break it down into smaller steps.
Here are the basics:
1. Choose A Format
There are two main ways to present your art portfolio. You can create either put together a physical copy, or you could make an online portfolio. Check to see what format your school requires.
The advantage of creating an online art portfolio is that it can be easily accessed and viewed from anywhere in the world. You could easily share your work anytime with an art director, gallery owners, art teacher, and potential art collectors. However, if you choose this option, make sure your art portfolio website is easy to navigate and that all of your artwork is high quality so that it doesn’t look like a low-budget portfolio.
2. Gather Your Materials
Once you’ve decided on a format, gather all of your materials.
You’ll need your resume, letters of recommendation (optional), statement of intent, collection of your work, contact details, and anything else that you think will help convince the admissions board that you deserve to go to school there. Ensure that you have at least two copies of each item if one gets lost in transit or you need to send it in again. Creating a digital and physical portfolio is a good idea, so you do not lose any content in the portfolio. Digital portfolios are not just for sharing your work online. They are also a sufficiently backup of your work.
3. Organize Your Materials
Organize your materials in a way that makes the most sense to you. You could put them in chronological order, by medium, or by type of artwork. However, make sure that everything is easy to find and a clear flow between different sections—research how other professional artists organize their portfolios. Your portfolio is the first impression someone will have as you as an artist.
4. Create A Table of Contents
A table of contents is a great way to make your portfolio easy to navigate. It allows the reader to quickly find what they’re looking for without searching through your entire portfolio. List each section and then list the pages that it appears on. The last thing
you will want is to have new clients 5fumbling through many pages to find what they are looking for.
5. Proofread And Edit
Make sure that your portfolio is free of spelling and grammatical errors. Have someone else read it over for you to get a fresh perspective. Use grammar editing tools like Grammarly to check for errors.
6. Bind It Or Scan It
If you’re going the physical route, make sure to bind your portfolio so that everything stays together. If you’re going the digital route, scan all of your materials and save them in a safe place.
7. Finalize Your Portfolio
Before sending in your portfolio, make sure that it’s complete and that you’re satisfied with the result. You don’t want to send it out incomplete or have a typo, as this will reflect poorly on you. Double-check to see if you have everything your school requires not to miss anything important.
Final Thoughts On How To Create A Portfolio
Now that you know how to make an art portfolio, it’s time to get started! Gather your materials, organize them, and start creating your table of contents. Once everything is finalized, proofread it and pat yourself on the back – you’ve just created a fantastic art portfolio!
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