The topic of this blog post is the differentiation between and expressive and design aspects of the Advanced Higher portfolio. We met with a student last night who we'd first met on one our portfolio preparation courses last year, 2015. When we plan our courses we don't specify that the course is geared towards expressive or design. Our courses all relate to both expressive and design equally, it's how you interpret what you're doing that really makes it relevant to your subject discipline.
So when we talked during the course on how the tasks that I was asking the students could be more focussed towards design my answer was this.
Design subjects and expressive follow exactly the same process, just they are referred to in different ways. With expressive, you'd not talk about the design process but you would use the term creative process. This in essence is the same thing as the design process, only the outcome is different. The outcome for your design work needs to fulfil the design brief. The outcome for the expressive work needs to fulfil the theme.
During both the design and the creative process you will be researching your subject in many, many ways. There are not some ways (techniques and materials particularly) that are only to be used in a design context and not in expressive. Because it's design it doesn't have to be tight, planned, neat, done in pencil etc.etc. Expressive work doesn't have to be messy and studying certain subjects with a particular approach. High school students can sometimes have a tendency to produce very clichéd work for expressive (hearts, hands, eyes, birds, faces, expressions etc…) but this doesn't have to be so and I would recommend doing anything BUT these kinds of subjects. If you're stuck for ideas for inspiration read our eBook on how to make an art portfolio for college or university – we cover a whole range of possibilities.
If you're working towards a design subject you can take your inspiration from anywhere, similarly with an expressive subject – the more diverse the better. Why? Because you're trying to show them something new, unique and that is your view on the world. The art colleges have seen these clichés 100s of times, they don't need to see them again.
It's also quite tempting to stick to materials that you know well so that you have a better chance of producing something good. This can often be pencil, coloured pencil, watercolour etc. But again, I would urge you to start trying new materials, experimenting more, for a design portfolio and expressive portfolio.
Some of the best portfolios I have seen have been where the student has thrown caution to the wind with their research and development and then pulled these ideas back in following reflection, selection and refinement.
If you're interest to find out more please take a look at our eBook on art sketchbook ideas.
Also published on Medium.
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