This site was created in 2012 by artist and lecturer Julie Read (BA Hons, PGCE), who has worked for 17 years in further education and art college. She has exhibited her own artwork extensively, both nationally and internationally. Her passion and mission is assisting students in creating an art portfolio for university.

Julie has been at both ends of the system; helping students creating an art portfolio for university as well as interviewing applicants for entry to Edinburgh College of Art for 9 years. She led the student recruitment activity at Edinburgh College of Art (2006 – 9) which involved advising many prospective students and their parents about applying to art college and creating an art portfolio for university.

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 portfolio for university, 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 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 repeated my foundation year and once my confidence grew, I secured a place at 2 Colleges the following year and took up my place at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee in 1991. I’ll tell you more about this story in the eBook ‘Creating a Sensational Portfolio’ as there’s still lots to tell.

Julie Read is an artist based in Midlothian, 8 miles south of Edinburgh. She received her BA (Hons) in Fine Art Printmaking from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art (Dundee) and a teaching qualification from the University of Strathclyde. Julie has exhibited extensively, both nationally and internationally and undertaken residencies in Switzerland and Austria.

Her work is included in a number of collections, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Archive Centre for Artists Books at Dundee Contemporary Arts, National Library of Scotland, International Portrait Gallery in Tuzla, Bosnia, Karelian State Museum Permanent Collection, Russia.

She has received 4 awards from the Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland) also the British Council, Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy, Hope Scott Trust, City of Edinburgh Council and the Arts Trust of Scotland.

Julie has extensive experience of supporting students in creating an art portfolio for university and interviewing students at entrance level. Also creating course materials and tutoring students in an online environment.

  • 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
  • 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.

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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