Don't Know How to Build an Art Portfolio for College? Here's How...

August 25, 2014
Now that summer has come and gone, it's time to get serious with your art portfolio! For upcoming high school seniors who have aspirations of studying art in college, now's your change to make the most out our your opportunity by creating a winning art portfolio by following the tips here.
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Portfolio Preparation

Consistency is key

Cluster artworks that share the similar theme or medium together in your portfolio. This way, you'll be able to present them in a clear and distinguishable manner.
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Stop apologizing!

Your artwork is what it is - an expression of what you currently are as an artist. Don't be sorry for who you are!
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Show how creative you are

Art and design programs look for people who can present exciting and never-seen-before ideas in their portfolios. If you have such an artwork, then your chances of getting into college have increased!
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Present sketchbook

Your sketchbook or notebook is where you present your creative ideas before they were made into artworks. Professors would love to see your notebook along with your portfolio so they can see how the thought process translates into the artwork.
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Reseach about school requirements

Each college demands different set of requirements from application. Make sure that you check out the website of each school you're applying to and see the actual requirements.
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Go online

By uploading your works to sites like Behance, deviantART, Carbonmade, and others, you get to expose your artworks to people and receive critical feedback on how you can improve them.
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Ask for help

When you don't know where to proceed with building your art portfolio, it's best to get help instead of going through with it blindly. Also, asking help is not a sign of weakness - it's a sign that you have shortcomings and want to improve on it! Ask your art professors in high school or artists, for starters.
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Revise, revise, revise!

An artwork is never perfect. It's always best that improve on your artworks before definitely filing them in your portfolio. Get advice and suggestions from people who know better (art professors) and make the necessary changes.
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Be wary of branding!

How you present your portfolio to professors and art programs in crucial in determining whether or not you will get into college. Aside from arranging your artworks properly, you ned to build a consistent tone in your artwork and how you present them in portfolio. Watch Raymond Aaron's video about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59nVyL4lOxk
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Include news articles where your works get featured

To set yourself out from the rest, your artworks may have been mentioned in the local news due to your inclusion in some event or exhibit. If so, include the news piece in your portfolio so art colleges know of your accomplishment.
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Get help from professional photographer

If you're a sculpter or painter, you will need to photograph your works the best way possible to capture the texture and shapes of your work in an image file. For this, you will need the services of a professional photographer to get the job done.
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Label properly

Fill out these information in your artwork so the art programs will have an idea on what your artwork is called and what's it all about.
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Request return receipt

Some colleges allow sending your e-mail over through mail. If so, put in the accurate information so that your portfolio gets into the hans of the right person and department.
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Attend National Portfolio Day

National Portfolio Day starts in November where colleges hold a whole-day event where professors from different art programs in the country gather and accept portfolio review from HS students for free. Consider attending at least one of these events.
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Take photos of artworks in the outdoors

If you decide on photographing your artworks, then do it outside when the sun is up and there's even lighting.
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Make use of shadows when taking pictures

For sculptors, it's important that the textures and edges of their pieces are shown and seen in the photograph they've taken of it.
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Take as many pictures of your artworks as possible

This way, you'll have more choices for the best photo of your artwork, instead of just taking one shot.
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Use photoflood bulbs

If you insist on taking photos of your artworks indoors, make sure that you avoid glares and hotspots from the image by using photoflood bulbs.
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Employ appropriate backgrounds when taking pictures of artworks

Having a contrasting background to your artwork will help your work stand out in the image.
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Include artworks in your portfolio that's related to the course you're applying for

For example, if you're applying to the graphic design program, bulk of your artworks must be about graphic design. You can include drawing pieces and other artistic skills you have, but you need to stick with artworks that are relevant to your course.
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Make them "WOW" with a matte board

A matte board or mounting paper helps present your artworks in a way that will make professors take notice immediately.
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Get your portfolio back with a restamped envelope

Some colleges send back your portfolio if you sent it over via mail. If so, send along a restamped envelope so they can send it back to you once they're done evaluating it.
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Save your artworks in your external drive

There's a chance that you might lose or ruin your portfolio, thus forcing you to recreate all your artworks. In this case, after compiling your artworks, take pictures of them and save them on an external drive. This way, you have a digital copy of the works so you can recreate them easily in the future.
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Create a flow with your arrangement

Arrange the pieces in our portfolio so that everything is logically placed where they should be. For example, you can categorize your works based on the theme or style and place them in your portfolio accordingly.
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Do the reverse calendar method

There will be times when you will get overwhelmed with teh tasks involved in creating a portfolio. If so, instead of doing things from creating your artworks to compiling them, reverse the process by starting with compiling ideas for your artworks instead of creating them first. This will help you hasten the process and will keep you motivated.
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Crop your artworks

Cropping is a technique that allows you to emphasize on a particular portion of your artworks and cuts out the unnecessary parts. Always consider this after you've done your artwork to optimize it for your art portfolio.
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How to Improve Your Art Portfolio By Cropping Your Photos

In this video, "Admission Insider" Karen Kesteloot shows how to improve your art by doing the best cropping practices. By following her advice, you can submit a much better art portfolio and increase your chances of getting into the best art and design colleges!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9ZwvLJ2m6Q

Prevent editing your photos using Photoshoot

For photographers, let your true skills shine through by not using any graphic editing software to "improve" your works.
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Place acid-free tissue in between artworks in your portfolio

This will keep the artworks from rubbing and smearing against each other.
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Get ideas from EVERYWHERE!

Exhibits, galleries, and museums are just some of the more common places to get inspiration for your art. However, use your personal experiences that don't have anything to do with art guide you in creating something exciting. It could be the happiest moment in your life or the most memorable one.
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"Bookend" your portfolio

Start and end strong with your portfolio by featuring your best artworks. By doing so, there's a great chance that professors will remember your portfolio and application the most.
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Practice your application interview

College may include interview as part of their application process. If so and you're not confident with your abilities to express yourself, then you need to practice weeks before the actual date. Get a friend or a family member ask you questions about your artwork and have them explain how you made the artworks. This should help you articulate your thoughts into words and boost your confidence.
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Get help from an art tutor

There's no better way to improve your artworks than through the guidance of a professional art instructor! He or she will tell you ways on how to improve your art and teach you how to do them.
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Making a Fantastic Art Portfolio for College Admissions with PortPrep

Learn how to make an art portfolio for college to get into the program of your choice! Art Instructor Karen Kesteloot can help you make a fantastic art portfolio -- listen to this promo video to learn more about Portprep and Karen's coaching services.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVTv35aI7Yw
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