Action Plan for Art Education | Portfolio Oomph

A parent’s view on applying to art college

Glasgow School of Art

A parent’s view on applying to art college

Portfolio Oomph focuses very much on the art education of the applicant (usually a young adult) when applying to art college but it can also be a tricky time for the parents of these applicants.

If you have a child who is keen on pursuing an art education and is doing well in their exams, the idea of an art portfolio can be quite confusing and daunting. This is especially so if you haven’t had an art education yourself or you’re not connected in some way to the art world. It can feel like banging your head against a brick wall trying to find out information from a reliable, independent source.

My blog is as much for the applicant as it is for the parents of the applicant is trying to demystify the process. I aim to tailor my support and mentoring services to each individual as everyone is in a unique situation and one size certainly doesn’t fit all.

Portfolio Oomph mentored

Read on to hear first hand from one parent who’s son Portfolio Oomph mentored for 10 months.

1.    Can you explain a little about Lachlan’s situation (exam results and interests, offer of place last year at University) and how he became to be in a position of wanting to apply to art college?

Lachlan left school after 6th year with a place to study Sociology at Aberdeen University and Edinburgh University. However, he was not sure that this was what he wanted to do and decided that he would leave school, work, and take time to find what he really wanted to do.

While working, he spent his spare time firstly creating music and taking up photography and he gradually became interested in visual art as well. He took a trip to London on a spare train ticket and chanced upon a Jeremy Deller and a David Shrigley exhibition and decided that there was something that he could really relate to.

This type of art combined an interest in creativity and social commentary. He started to think about art as an option however he’d only had an art education up to standard grade level at school. He applied for an evening class to assist in developing a portfolio and a photography course, beginning both at the start of the 2012 session. Although he had looked at portfolio courses he didn’t have the portfolio to apply. He also started a project with video in his own time.

2.    Before you/he discovered Portfolio Oomph where were you in terms of what was the best way of guiding Lachlan towards his goals; what were your frustrations, your pain, low points?

Lachlan developed his interest in pursuing art after leaving school so was outwith any formal structure to assist him to develop his interest and skills. He wanted to do a portfolio development course but did not have enough material to apply for one. So it was just a case of taking it slowly.

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. Portfolio Oomph also gave him someone with whom to share his ideas – recognize what he was wanting to do.

He had never heard of environmental art (and neither had I!) Portfolio Oomph looked at the core skills he needed to develop and worked out an action plan to follow. So it was access to someone who understood the world that he had become interested in and with which we could not help as we had no experience.

3.    Please can you share your story of how you discovered Portfolio Oomph and how you decided to contact Portfolio Oomph with a view to working with us.

We had a chance encounter with Portfolio Oomph when Lachlan decided to buy an SLR camera from Gumtree – his dad went to pick the camera up – Julie (Portfolio Oomph) was the seller. Lachlan’s Dad told her what the camera was for and she gave us a business card. I read the card and saw what it was about. It was just what we needed – access to advice from someone independent in the art world. We then encouraged Lachlan to meet with Julie to test out his thoughts about pursuing art and so it went from there – Lachlan had the first meeting, found it useful, and agreed to go forward with another meeting.

4.    What did you learn with Portfolio Oomph; what ‘aha!’ moments made the transition of Lachlan just wanting to go to art college to actually see that is was possible and how he was going to get into art college?

For me it was finding out that there was a type of art/course that matched exactly with what Lachlan was interested in – then the action/development plan impressed me after the first full session. When Julie turned up at the house to help him put enough work together to have the confidence to go for a last-minute interview at the City of Glasgow College portfolio development course, we really began to see that it was a possibility that he could go on to get a place at art college. I don’t think that would have happened without Portfolio Oomph.

Even though Lachlan was then on the portfolio course at the City of Glasgow College the individual tutoring and support of Portfolio Oomph gave Lachlan the confidence to develop his own ideas and keep going forward and then to apply for Glasgow School of Art (GSA). I would never have believed he would have got to that stage so quickly and then to actually have produced a portfolio of sufficient quality to get in.

I went to GSA open day with Lachlan but Julie did loads of research as well so that she knew exactly what was required. She gave Lachlan the individual support to produce the images which he needed to upload as part of his application. Julie also gave him the confidence to produce his written statements. The tutor at the City of Glasgow College has also been very supportive but having Portfolio Oomph in the background throughout has been an invaluable support.

5.    Where are you now? How do you feel about Lachlan’s success at GSA?

I am absolutely delighted and excited for him – getting into GSA – and to the particular course that he so wanted to get on.

6.    Do you feel the services that you used from Portfolio Oomph offer value for money?

Yes – I think they are good value for all the reasons set out above – someone to test your ideas on, to keep you on track at each stage, and to keep things moving forward. To help in assessing what is needed for the particular course you want to gain entry to and in actually assisting to put your work together in a way that best demonstrates your skills and abilities.

Perhaps above all the confidence to pursue what you want. The cost is equivalent to a tutor at school which many parents now use. It was also a flexible service which I think was a great strength – with appointments to meet needs and available at key points.

7.    Would you recommend Portfolio Oomph to friends?


8.    Any other comments or suggestions:

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.

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