What to put in your art college portfolio | Portfolio Oomph

What to put in your art college portfolio

art college portfolio

What to put in your art college portfolio

This is THE most common question I get asked by students and parents alike.

Art College Portfolio

You’ll probably have visited a number of open days for the University and Art Colleges/Art Schools that you’re interested in.

And you’ll have scoured their websites to find out as much as you can do about what to put in your art college portfolio.

But most people I speak to are still confused. Which is why they reach out to me for help.

I’ll explain a little about THE PROBLEM and why it’s so confusing.

Then I’ll help to break down some of this confusion into points that you can action for your art college portfolio.

I’ll also point you to help should you wish to find out more about working with me on your art college portfolio.

The problems when creating your Art College Portfolio.

The key things that you need to show in your art college portfolio are:

  • individual ideas
  • strong drawing skills (not necessarily traditional representational drawing but essentially from life not photos – see my drawing Pinterest board for some ideas of what drawing can be)
  • influence from CONTEMPORARY artists and designers
  • sketchbooks showing development of an IDEA (not documenting the technical process)

And from my experience, this isn’t always facilitated well in school.

Therein lies the problem for me.

And yes, it was for me too with my art college portfolio many years ago.

The ideas that I worked on were projects set by my teacher, heavily influence by my teacher or my parents.

They weren’t based on me, my ideas and my passions.

Action points for your art college portfolio

The first thing to do is to download my FREE report below, get it straight into your inbox so you can stop making the 10 most common mistakes that stop students from getting into art college.

What to put in your art college portfolio

Next up, the two main sticking points, IDEAS and SKETCHBOOKS.

When planning your ideas your sketchbook should be your best friend.

But many schools don’t use sketchbooks.

Some do however students often work in it more as a presentation book of good ideas. Rather a book that shows the workings the experiments, the mistakes and the thought process – warts and all.

This is crux of a strong application for your art college portfolio – showing your creative or design process.

On my portfolio preparation course I guide you through 4 different ways to start a project, using ideas that you unique to YOU.

The process of working in a sketchbook is clearly demonstrated and I guide you through this. Annotation is really important to demonstrate your critical thinking and reflection.

How I can help you with your art college portfolio

Your need for guidance to get you into your first choice art college has options for 2 ways of working with me.

PLAN CREATE SUCCEED is THE most comprehensive portfolio preparation for art college course that you’ll find.

It is unique in its approach and model – with me there to help and support you with my world-class guidance….. combining:

  1. do it yourself (study in your own time, the 41 video tutorials will lead you through 5 projects to build your folio)
  2. done with you – there are 5 tutorials in person or by Zoom (and recorded) to keep you on track at critical parts in your learning
  3. done for you – I undertake the task of compiling your work into your digital portfolios for up to 5 colleges – with your opinions at the core.


MENTORING My tailored mentoring is designed to give you whatever you need for success at your first choice art college/university.

If you’re applying for an Undergraduate Degree in a highly specialised, competitive art and design course (eg. performance costume, film or photography) then mentoring is for you. Also, any postgraduate applicants are more suited to mentoring.

portfolio preparation course

My best advice is, if you’re unsure or struggling, don’t delay.

And don’t just wing it. If you don’t get the offer at your first choice art college or University then you’ll be settling for second best – or not at all.

No amount of passion can replace taking BOLD ACTION.

Julie Read

This article was written by Julie Read, a leading educator in the Creative Industries, as featured in The Guardian newspaper, on a mission to create a legacy to ‘unlock your creative genius’.

My passion and mission is your art portfolio, to help 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.

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