Earlier in May, we had a very different enquiry from an International student who was here in Edinburgh studying some short courses to help build a portfolio to apply to Edinburgh College of Art.
From the outset I was impressed by her resourcefulness as not only did she find Portfolio Oomph online, she arrived at our door one Monday morning ready to enroll in our institution. As you may or may not know, we are not an institution, it's just me, Julie Read, working from our home office / studio in Midlothian!
Yashi had applied for Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) last year and hadn't been accepted. She had asked for feedback on her application, as I would encourage anyone to do. The feedback told her, in grades, what she had achieved, however there was no further detail or how she would improve on this. They grade from A – F on:
1. Enquiry and Visual Research shows the level of your engagement in intelligent, structured visual enquiry and how well you communicate this;
2. Idea Development and Material/Technical Exploration shows your ability to explore and develop ideas in an appropriate way, and your level of skill in the use of materials and techniques;
3. Critical Judgement, Selection and Resolution shows how well you judge which ideas have the most appropriate potential and your ability to bring them to a level of completion appropriate to your intended outcome;
4. Contextual Awareness shows us the extent of your knowledge of the subject you have applied for and how your work relates to it.
Receiving a grade and no other feedback was not that helpful to Yashi and as an International student, their curriculum and creative training is very different from here in the UK.
We had approximately 20 days before Yashi's return back to India to make a good start on a portfolio and address some of the issues that surrounded her application. Her tenacity to succeed even led her to moving out to Newtongrange from Edinburgh for 3 weeks to enable her to be closer to Portfolio Oomph for her lessons.
The areas I picked up on needing improvement were:
Personal statement – this is very important as an International student, more so perhaps than if you're from the UK. It's important your personal statement is about the here and now and not too much about long past achievements. Also focusing on the future and ambitions is important.
The creative process that really encompasses points 1,2,3,4 above needed work on and just by ensuring you engage in the creative process these aspects are covered. How well and how thorough you do this is up to you.
So we set to work, meeting every morning for about 15 days – this is not the way that I usually work with students but as her time was so limited here it was the only solution. I was quite upfront also about not having worked on an international application before as it is slightly different with timings and expectations due to differences in background and curriculum.
My plan was to work on a project where we would cover all elements of the creative process including the above points from ECA that could be replicated based on another idea once Yashi returned home. We started drawing, experimenting, documenting. We introduced sketchbooks and the ethos surrounding them. We worked hard, fast and talked and talked and talked!
We talked about art, cultural differences, curry (!), the weather of course, we shared ideas, stories and recipes. It was a lovely experience and was enriching for me as well as Yashi.
Her worked started coming together and we documented it for the start of her mini portfolio. Before long we had mountains of work that sat in the Enquiry and Visual Research, Idea Development and Material/Technical Exploration and Contextual Awareness sections; these had previously had poor grades. And the plan was to continue working on Critical Judgement, Selection and Resolution once back in India and we'd communicate via email and Skype.
Yashi submitted her applications to Glasgow School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and waited in earnest. In June I returned from a family holiday to the great news that she'd been offered unconditional places at ECA and GSA!
This is such an achievement for anyone, however as an International student this is an outstanding result. Real determination is what eventually drove Yashi to success and she is now studying on the BA (Hons) Art at Edinburgh College of Art.
We took a wee selfie to remember our time – I am meeting Yashi and her parents (over from Saudi Arabia) tonight for dinner. How exciting and what a wonderful journey we all went on.
We have 2 lovely testimonials from Yashi's parents too, please read on.
Our daughter Yashi had the passion and the will to put in her best efforts to achieve admission in renowned Art colleges of the world. However, she lacked direction, skills and competence. She did not know what Universities looked for in applicants for selecting them. She did not have a portfolio and the concept of a sketch book was alien to her. As parents, we witnessed and shared the frustration of seeing our daughter struggling to find direction and the skills.
Portfolio Oomph and Julie were truly Godsends into Yashi’s life.
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.
Under a true Guru, 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 focussed 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 now has offers from Glasgow School of Art and Edinburgh School of Art. Both these are her dream colleges. Thanks to Portfolio Oomph Yashi, has re-discovered herself and our entire family is very happy at the manner in which events have shaped.
Portfolio Oomph offers great value, absolutely. 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
Our daughter Yashi had all the required eligibility except a proper art portfolio. Staying outside of UK and finding proper guidance to prepare for art colleges in Scotland was very frustrating and disheartening.
Our first meeting with Portfolio Oomph was supposed to be 10 minutes however it extended to almost an hour, where Julie made all the efforts to understand my daughter and her potential, her interests and passion.
Yashi actually had a very short time of about 20 days to work with Portfolio Oomph as we were returning to Saudi Arabia. Under Julie's able guidance based on Yashi's passions, she was able to explore and expand her thinking, be adventurous and create and create and create. Her creative juices were flowing uninterrupted and every day was an 'Aha' day!!
Julie is a very genuine, patient, dedicated and a wonderful guide.
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! We are very happy. – Aru Harikrishna
If you're reading this and wondering if we can help you too, please do get in touch via our contact page; we'd love to find out more.