Building A Portfolio

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

If you have a creative side, be it art, film gaming, architecture, or other, then consider building a portfolio that might impress a college admissions team. It's easy, kinda fun, and it can have huge payoffs for scholarships. Plus, if you love your creative gift then building a portfolio will be constructive use of your downtime aka Holidays, Summers, and Weekends.

Students in any major can earn a scholarship based on a portfolio of their art, film, architecture, or design skills.

Money for artistic abilities is a great strategy!

10 Tips To Building A Great Portfolio


1. Don't Customize Yes, if you apply at schools, each one will have specific requirements but you can customize your portfolio later once you know where (or even 'if') you will be applying. For now, focus on just collecting your work, organizing it, and putting it into some type of presentation.


This is the stage where you want to just freely think and produce your art. Once you have content, then you can go back and edit!


2. Definitely Diversify This is not the time to edit. At this point you want to explore all of your creative bents. If you normally just sketch, then consider exploring new media, styles, and approaches. If you work in 3D or mixed media, then take photographs of that work to show your photography skills.


The more diversified your portfolio, the better the college admissions committee can judge your promise as an artist.


3. Make It Personal Don't think about what art schools might want. You can't possibly please them all. Focus on what you want to do. Look through work you have already produced and pull out the best. Then organize or enhance or modify it as you feel inclined.


If you let them see the real you, then they will be seeing something never seen before.

4. Collect Sketches Some art schools ask you to submit your sketchbook along with your personal portfolio. What they’re looking for is where you find inspiration and how you develop ideas. Pull out sketches going back to the very beginning then organize them into something that tells your story.


Your sketch book is personal but you have to be willing to expose that underbelly.


5. Keep Creating Admissions officers will be looking at everything from the strength of your technical skills to the sketches that got you there but they are also looking to see if you explore new ways of approaching your art. Get outside the box and try new things.


Your works in progress may be your best work yet. Keep producing.

6. Curate, Curate, Curate Once you have a portfolio of everything you've ever done, its time to cull. Bo back through and select the 20-30 pieces that you feel best represent you. Once it is time to apply to colleges, you will cut this down to 20 max but you may pick a different 20 for each college!


Show your range, show your strengths, and show your passion.

7. Digitize It When you submit your portfolio, it will be online. That means it has to be in a digital format. You will need to take digital photographs and store them in a PDF or JPG format with optimal resolution. Avoid blurry, poorly lit, or overly enlarged replications.


Consider using video (especially 360 for 3D objects) as an alternative way to show your work.

8. Label It Once you have a digital picture ready to add to your portfolio, add a title, discuss the medium used, explain its dimensions, and state a date that the piece was completed. This is the ideal place to say anything special about the piece or its meaning to you.


Titling a work of art is a work of art in and of itself. Titles are powerful.

9. Get Feedback Once you have 10 pieces in your portfolio, ask a friend, teacher, or family member to take a look and give you some constructive input. Are there pieces that just don't speak to them? Would changing the order make it better? Try not to take their feedback to personally.


Ultimately, you are the artist. What others say is just one aspect of your art. Listen to input, consider it realistically, but make decisions that you can live with.

10. Learn More Every art school will have a website with details about what they expect in a portfolio. If you have a target college or school then look at their requirements and consider applying them, but only after you have built your first master portfolio. Remember, this should represent you!

The internet is a wealth of content but don't let it confuse you. Stick with people who know what they are talking about.

Kathe Lee © 2020