I’m a leading educator in the Creative Industries on a mission to create a legacy to ‘unlock your creative genius’. My passion and mission is assisting YOU in creating an art portfolio to get you that place at college or university. CLARITY, in particular around the creative process, sketchbooks and what the Colleges actually want to see are the founding principles.

I created this site in 2012 having taught also assessed portfolios and interviewed applicants for 10 years at Edinburgh College of Art. 17 years teaching in Further Education Colleges on Foundation, HNC and HND courses gave me a comprehensive understanding of post-school education in the arts.

I also led the student recruitment activity at Edinburgh College of Art from 2006 – 9. This involved advising prospective students and their parents about applying to art college and creating art college portfolios for university. 

As an artist I have exhibited my own artwork extensively, both nationally and internationally.

julie's story

I was also a student who didn’t get a place at art college 26 years ago (gosh am I really that old!?) In fact I didn’t get a place at a staggering 3 art colleges, was gutted as I thought my portfolio was great – honestly!

But I clearly had no idea when creating an art college portfolio, what the tutors were looking for in me or my work – crucial. What I didn’t realise was that it said nothing about me, what I was interested in and it showed quite clearly that my passion for art hadn’t really been ignited.

Okay, so I could draw and paint but the subjects that I was drawing and painting about were really dreary to be quite honest. I did lots of paintings of poppy seed heads, flowers and shells for no other reason than I didn’t know what else to do. It was stuff we just had lying around at home; it showed! So I had nothing to talk about with my work at interview as it was so bland.

How was I going to get them excited about my work if I wasn’t even excited about it? Hmmm, think about it! I naively came away thinking that they didn’t talk much to me because my work gave them all the answers, I was SO wrong!

I’ve come a long way since then – thankfully!

Read more about my art, exhibitions and awards on my artist website.

  • Thanks to Portfolio Oomph I got admission in Edinburgh College of Art. A year back I would not have known how to create a portfolio and what universities look for in a promising student. But it was pure and utter luck that we managed to find such an amazing tutor.

    With Julie's guidance and teaching I began to realise the process. She made me realise what I was doing wrong and gave me a framework to work from. She gave me space to work on what I was interested in and kept me in the right direction if I was diverting from the subject of my topic. She helped me right down to the minute details.

    Thanks Julie you really helped me!

    Yashasvi Harikrishna: ECA, art
  • I found the eBook 'Writing your personal statement' really useful. I applied for GSA, ECA, Wimbledon, Newcastle University and Goldsmiths. Having received unconditional offers from Wimbledon, Newcastle University and Goldsmiths I decided to accept Goldsmiths – I move on the 22nd and can't wait!

    My friend Beth found out about Portfolio Oomph through me and loved everything you did for her!

    Maisie Dolan: Goldsmiths, fine art
  • We bought your eBook 'Writing your personal statement'. Just to finally let you know that my daughter was offered a place at Central St Martin's and has accepted it and she is absolutely delighted to have had the offer.

    I will recommend your website to my friends who have children pursuing a place at Art College.

    Thanks again for the crucial part you played in getting her into the college of her dreams!

    Linda Hill (parent): Central St. Martins
  • I was quite lost to be honest about where to begin with my application. I had almost no idea about what the art colleges expect to see in the portfolio.

    I learned through discussions with Julie and visits to the college that they want to see the process – loads of research and initial sketches instead of just perfectly polished final pieces. I just needed a lot of advice which Portfolio Oomph gave me and work, work, work.

    I'm now studying in Kingston University on their Fashion course. Portfolio Oomph helped me to sort things out, get some order in my work and understand what's to be done.

    It sort of cleared my view and I felt it is possible for me to achieve this. I would recommend Portfolio Oomph to anyone making an art college application.

    Daina Cutulab: Kingston University, fashion
  • I am very grateful for the help and advice you gave Cameron Julie. Having the opportunity to chat through his portfolio with someone before the pressure of an Art School interview allowed Cameron to practise what he needed to say.

    The advice from the ebooks together with your thoughts that day were really helpful for him. Cameron had an interview at GSA for their sculpture and environmental art course; he was over the moon at even getting an interview as only 3 out of 12 from his school got an interview. He’s since heard that he has unconditional offers from both GSA and Aberdeen!

    Janieann McCracken (parent): GSA, sculpture and environmental art
  • Julie is a true Guru, understanding Yashi’s areas of strength and the areas for development.

    In a short period of time, Julie was able to channel Yashi’s energies and passion into skills and capabilities. Yashi blossomed and with dedication strived hard in preparing for the selection processes of her dream colleges for which she was applying to. From a person who was struggling to find her calling in life, Yashi evolved into a person who became focused on what she wanted to achieve in her life’s journey. She found joy in expressing her feelings through the medium of art.

    As parents we witnessed this transformation from very close quarters and truly feel obliged to Portfolio Oomph and Julie for unleashing the creative energies in Yashi and guiding her in such a sterling manner. Yashi is now studying at Edinburgh College of Art.

    Badas Harikrishna (parent): ECA, art
  • I cannot begin to explain how helpful your eBooks have been, especially the 'How to blow them away at interview' one. Just having someone who's been through the whole experience of applying to university giving a few hints and tips is so reassuring!

    The applications seem to be going well; I had an interview at Leeds Uni and received an offer (thanks again to your eBook!!) I am waiting to hear back from Newcastle after a portfolio inspection last week. Fingers crossed!

    Beth Wright: Northumbria University
  • The course Ideas and sketchbook development was unlike anything I'd studied in school which was refreshing and very inspiring.

    It inspired me to look at things differently, develop ideas and expand my sketchbook techniques.

    You'll be pleased to know I got in to all my choices! Product design at Dundee was my first choice which I got an unconditional for so I'm thrilled to bits with that. I also got in to communication design at Robert Gordon which I wasn't expecting. I'm very happy to let you know I'll be a Duncan of Jordanstone student as of September!

    Hannah Cowcher: DJCAD Dundee, product design 2nd yr
  • I really enjoyed being shown some new artists that were really inspiring also lots of new techniques for sketchbooks and talking through ideas with the class and teacher.

    Having my mind opened to visual stimuli and how to record it in a sketchbook and get inspiration from everything around me was really useful.

    I got a place at Gray's School of Art to do communication design and I've accepted it! 🙂 I really can't wait to get going!

    Heather Allen: Grays School of Art, communication design
  • I enjoyed the play and experimentation on the Ideas and sketchbook development workshop. This will help me in my artist practice as I was missing a chunk of work; research and exploration.

    I now feel able to break the steps down to a resolved piece of artwork. I‘ll also be able to relax and enjoy the creative journey rather than worrying about the destination.

    I very much enjoyed this workshop and I think it is fantastic value for money.

    Libby Scott (artist)
  • When we discovered Portfolio Oomph by chance, it was just what we needed – access to advice from someone independent in the art world. It was also a flexible service which I think was a great strength.

    Many thanks for supporting Lachlan in developing his ideas skills and abilities – for going the extra mile at each point when it was needed and giving him the confidence to believe in what he wanted to achieve. I am absolutely delighted and excited for him getting into GSA and to the particular course that he so wanted to get on, sculpture and environmental art.

    If we had not discovered Portfolio Oomph I think it would have taken Lachlan at least another year to get to the point of where he is at now.

  • Under Julie's able guidance based on our daughter's passions, she was able to explore and expand her thinking, be adventurous and create.

    Julie is a very genuine, patient, dedicated and a wonderful guide. Yashi has been admitted to the Edinburgh College of Art and Glasgow School of Art. The services of Portfolio Oomph are of topmost quality and deserving of every penny.

    Thank you Julie, for putting the smile back on our daughter's face!

  • I have applied for the second time to the general foundation course at the University of Dundee (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design). Last year I was unsuccessful

    As I lived outside the UK in Hungary, Portfolio Oomph seemed to be the only source of help, so I purchased eBook ‘Creating a Sensational Portfolio’, and well, this turned out to be also the best solution. Because in that, I have found lots of help.

    Julie Read mentions everything you need to know, tells you her story, gives useful tips (even regarding your personal statement for UCAS too), and all this is embedded in a very inspirational text. I happy to say I am now studying at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

  • Portfolio Oomph offers great value, absolutely as our daughter is now studying at Edinburgh College of Art.

    We are Indians and in Indian epics, history and culture, the Guru occupies a pivotal place.

    Julie is a Guru in the true sense of the term – one who understood Yashi’s upsides and downsides and was able to get the best out of her in a very short span of time. We would most certainly recommend Portfolio Oomph. Portfolio Oomph and Julie occupy a special place in our lives and we will remember Julie as long as we walk this earth.

    Badas Harikrishna (parent): ECA, art
Teaching posts held by Julie Read

Lecturer At:

Edinburgh College of Art on First Year General Course (9 years)

Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design on First Year General Course

Dundee College on BA Design & Creativity, HND Graphics & Illustration – (9 years)

West Lothian College on HNC Contemporary Art Practice course

Interactive Design Institute, UK’s leading provider of online qualifications in design

Visual Art Studios on Portfolio Preparation course, Glasgow

Chesterfield College on Diploma in Foundation studies in Art and Design

Guest Artist At:

Edinburgh College of Art
Glasgow School of Art  

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