In response to questions from students about creating fine art portfolio to apply to university or any other art school, I will provide a description of student portfolio. It may consist of 15-25 works created within the last couple of years prior to applying to programs in visual arts. Student portfolio determines his or her skill level in various art disciplines as well as student's area of interest.
Portfolio requirements are provided by the schools and can usually be found on university’s website. Before considering submitting an application for enrollment, students can visit that particular school’s open house in order to be firm about their choice. School’s requirements often change and vary. Students should inquire about the open house dates, programs description, academic and portfolio requirements in order to prepare for application submission.
Here is an overview of areas of art studies offered by post secondary schools in North America: Drawing and Painting, Design, Animation, Integrated Media (film, photography, audio, performance and more), Sculpture, Printmaking, Curatorial Studies, Art Theory and History.
Some schools clearly outline what is expected from applicants regarding their portfolios. For example, Sheridan College School of Animation will provide a list of specific skills and number of projects to be completed by the candidates. Other schools only specify the dimensions and the number of works necessary for evaluation. Highly sought after programs with specific portfolio requirements demand certain degree of skill proficiency. Students are expected to already have some education in fine art, for example, Life Drawing courses must be taken in order to complete required Figure Drawing projects. In general, when entering undergraduate programs, students have to demonstrate broad range of interest in visual art and present works that best describe their ability.
Applicant’s portfolio does not have to cover every area of fine art. Students come with different backgrounds in art education. Some will have variety of skills obtained from High School Art Programs and others will be more focused, for example, on photography or Flash Animation. However, there are recommended portfolio components that the judges will consider valuable. Candidates with strong drawing skills gain a considerable edge, which is why 2-3 sketchbooks must be included in student’s portfolio. Taking classes proves very useful. Students who learn from professional artists are often able to demonstrate higher levels of skill proficiency then those who rely on High School courses or on no courses at all. Candidates who invested in extra curricular art education gain invaluable training, experience and mentor-ship that contributes to their over all success when it comes to acceptance in post secondary programs.