If you want to study subjects like art, design, photography, architecture and other creative subjects, the university will often require you to submit a portfolio. In basic terms, this is a collection of your work which the university uses to assess your talent and suitability for the course.
Knowing how much to include in a portfolio and choosing the right pieces can be difficult. The best thing to do is to look at the guidelines on the university’s website and follow them as closely as you can. Some will have specific guidelines relating to sizes, number of pieces, content, format and so on. There are, however, some general points on creating the best portfolio and maximising your chances of getting accepted to your first choice university:
- Give yourself plenty of time to put the portfolio together. If you are time pressured and stressed it might be difficult to produce work which accurately reflects your ability.
- Talk to your art teacher and see what advice they can give. They will know your work better than other people and may have some advice about what to include.
- Don’t be afraid to include some pieces which you feel might not be as good as others, particularly when it might demonstrate your capacity to experiment. It is better to showcase a mixture of styles, subjects, media and materials than having a portfolio in which everything looks the same.
- Think about how you might have been influenced by something or someone in creating each piece. Perhaps you have been to see an exhibition or had been going through a particular experience at the time you made it. If there is an interview, be prepared to talk about the creative process or story behind your pieces. If the piece was done as part of an assignment, talk about the objectives, research and conclusions of your work.
- Try to show some personality in the pieces. Look for evidence of the artist’s personality in existing portfolios and think about how to bring your own into yours.
- The presentation of the work is important. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money on an expensive new holder, but something which looks smart and neat will demonstrate your attention to detail and make your work look that much better.
- Try to organise the work into themes or styles, or put it into chronological order. This demonstrates good organisational skills and artistic awareness.
Remember, each university will have its own portfolio guidelines. Here are some examples: