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Top tips for putting together a creative arts portfolio

Your art portfolio can make or break your art school application. Source: Kate Aedon/Shutterstock

When it comes to art school and art courses, it begins and ends with your portfolio.

This is the collection of work that best shows off your abilities, creativity and direction as an artist. It can make or break you when applying for courses.

Schools often see it as an indispensable window into your vision and potential, so you want to make sure you absolutely nail it. There’s no strict winning formula for the perfect portfolio, and the format and approach will change slightly depending on your medium. But there are a few handy tips that can help get you noticed for all the right reasons.

1. Start early

The number one tip is to start early!

The last thing you want is to be throwing something together last minute. Take your time and consider the exact image you want to portray and the medium that excites you the most.

Source: Nik MacMillan/Unsplash

2. Ask for feedback

Seek advice from your art teachers and anyone you can track down who has attended art school.

Many working artists will also be happy to lend their professional experience. Their advice can be worth its weight in gold when it comes to spotting pieces that resonate with the application board.

Get feedback as you go, but importantly, make sure it truly represents you and your vision.

3. Do your research

This is a cardinal rule that, surprisingly, prospective students consistently break.

Each university or arts college will have different portfolio requirements. Make sure you keep a careful record of the exact admissions requirements. And do this well in advance as deadlines can be earlier than you expect and portfolios take a long time to prepare.

Print each one out and refer back to them as you go.

4. Start and end with the best

You want to ‘Wow’ them straight out the blocks but also leave them with a positive lasting impression.

This is just common sense – if you get their attention straight away, there’s a much greater chance of them taking time to review all of your pieces.

Application teams will see a lot of portfolios over the whole process, so it’s good to make sure yours stands out!

5. Show your range

Make your portfolio as diverse as possible – while still showing your artistic direction, of course.

Including a variety of work and mediums in your portfolio, or even a variety of styles within one area, will work in your favour.

Source: rawpixel/Unsplash

This shows you are able to use and experiment with a range of styles, mediums and techniques and can control, apply and manipulate mediums in a skilful, appropriate and intentional way.

6. Enjoy it!

Many students find they actually really enjoy putting together their creative portfolio.

While it can seem like a big task initially, if you give yourself enough time, going through your best pieces of work will likely fill you with pride.

Seeing it presented professionally will reassure you just how talented you are and remind you that you’re definitely cut out for art school.

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