Develop The Perfect Art Portfolio

Upon applying to an art school, a portfolio can truly make or break you. Each and every university may have different requirements than the last, but there are a few things that they all look for in a body of work...

1. How well-rounded are you? For any student looking to develop their portfolio, this might be the greatest advice I can give you: show every aspect of what you can do. You could be a wonderful oil painter, but what good would nine oil paintings do for your portfolio? With one, or even two oil pieces, anyone looking at your body of work can already tell what kind of skill set you possess in the world of oils. But what else can you do? Can you work with clay? How about with pencil? Ever try anything with stone? In college, it is all about having an open mind to new experiences and new mediums. Show that you have what it takes to try something outside of your comfort zone. Show that you are a strong artist in more mediums than one. Show that you can excel in any medium thrown at you, while developing and lending your artist's mind in all that you do.

2. Are you a high-school student with an idea of the college experience? Often, high school students go to art schools with a romantic idea of what it might be like. Beyond what one might think, it comes down to working for hours on end in a studio or in your dorm room in a medium you may never have tried before. Get ready for late nights with deadlines, a semester with a class you may despise, and (*spoiler alert*) many nude models. The people on the other side of your college application and portfolio need to know that you are ready for that. My advice is to show as best you can that you are up for the challenge, and have seen what a college art student's life might be like. Luckily for you, the Katonah Art Center has got you covered. Try our Figure Studies In Grisaille, or Life Sculpture class to really see what art in college is all about.

3. Who are you as a person and as an artist? College admissions officers read hundreds and hundreds of applications every day. It is imperative that in some way, you stand out in their memory as something special. Your artwork and your portfolio is an extension of the person you are -- make sure that person is someone dedicated, absolutely in love with art, and willing to take risks, even if it means failing. It is usually better to try something fresh and new, rather than play it safe. 'Predictable' is seldom remembered.


For more advice, try our personal Portfolio Coach or our Art Portfolio Development Program.

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Olivia Ferreiro

Olivia Ferreiro Author

Growing up with parents that are artists has surrounded me with a constant feed of creative energy. As a child, every day was a new project, allowing my older brother and I to use the walls of our every home as a blank canvas, whether we were aware of it or not. Spending my younger years in California made me a flower child that could never lose her youth, even with the passing of time. Coming back to New York as an adult made me discover my roots, beyond café con leche for breakfast and Cuban music always playing in our car. And going to the University of Colorado: Boulder to study writing kept me bold and curious, reminding me that the world is a lot bigger than I ever could have imagined.

I'd like to think that I have my father's obsession with precision, and my mother's desire to be free-spirited. And although I did not study to pursue art on a professional level, I have always been an artist in all that I do.