Skip to main content

Art School Portfolios: Portfolio Examples

Lauryn Welch
Teaching Artist

“I don’t think I was technically very skilled, but I liked to be cheeky with the concepts in my work, and that made people laugh.  I think it’s really important to go beyond making art that looks pretty or realistic.

Your art school portfolio is more memorable if you insert some of your own personality into it. It’s okay to make it nerdy or dorky. In fact, that’s what people end up loving the most.”

Jordan McCracken-Foster
Teaching Artist

“Preparing my art school portfolio was really stressful. Mostly because I didn’t realize what an art school portfolio really was. 

Thankfully, I had high school art teachers that really helped me out with this process. They helped me to go through my best pieces and explained to me why some pieces worked better than others. One of the more unique aspects of my art school portfolio was a short 15-second animation I made while taking a pre-college class in animation. I only had 2 weeks to make it, but I think it was one of the highlights of my art school portfolio. 

Cecilia Cao

“Creating an art school portfolio certainly was not easy; it required significant of dedication and planning. Everything had to be carefully considered, from the materials I used to seeing how the artworks interacted.

I wanted to make sure that the people viewing my art school portfolio had a good grasp on my skill and familiarity with all mediums, as well as my ability to think conceptually.”

Victoria Lin

“Preparing for art school was less than a piece of cake, but in hindsight could have been much more difficult. In high school, I was in an intensive arts program for all four years (almost like AP art class) in which class assignments could easily end up as portfolio pieces as well.

I didn’t take extracurricular art classes, so the initiative was on me to find time outside of school to produce works more personal to me. The main goal of my portfolio was to give the judges a sense of my technical abilities as an artist, but also of my personality as a student and as a person.”

Natalie Linn

“Making my art school portfolio was hectic and MISERABLE. I spent 3 straight months just churning out as much art as I possibly could. 

So it’s important to find a way to make yourself relatively happy and comfortable as you’re pursuing these harder elements of your work, so that you’re able to actually progress rather than beat yourself up to the point where you can’t keep going.

When I was really struggling, I didn’t really want my teachers or my parents to see the work that I was putting out, but I was able to upload it online. The feedback that I got was really positive, and that really enabled me to keep going when I was really, really hard on myself.”

Tatiana Florival

“Preparing my portfolio for art school was made much easier by being in an AP Art Class. My high school art teacher was an amazing and proactive woman who required us to take high-resolution photographs of every piece we made. Having that documentation when it came time to assemble an art school portfolio was really useful.

Breaking down my art school portfolio like this took away a lot of uncertainty, and was a great way to make sure that I incorporated both my artistic technical skills and personal thematic expression.”

Piper Matthew

“When I started building my art school portfolio, it was when I started taking classes outside of school because that’s where I started to learn how to draw realistically and with charcoal, and where I really cared about my own techniques and my improvement.

Throughout high school, I took AP Art my senior year. I’ll never forget the pieces that I made in that class because I didn’t have the same type of constructive feedback, and sometimes there was no prompt. I was just making pieces.”

Alexandra Alemany 

Pre-College was just my saving grace– really, really, really prepared me for what art school was like, and just how intensive the workload can be. 

I definitely think I had a sense of confidence, and it was mainly because of just my teachers kind of encouraging me, and I think that’s just the most important thing: is just have confidence, and have faith in yourself.  Work in your art school portfolio that you really love, and that you’re passionate about, and you’ll end up seeing where it takes you.”

Janice Chun

“Describing my art school portfolio as a chaotic hot mess would be an understatement. I only had two months to create a whole art school portfolio from scratch and I don’t think I’ve ever hustled that fast before in my life.

That being said, those were two of my favorite months in high school. I drew everything and anything that inspired me, completely dedicated myself to produce something everyday or every week, and tackled so many different types of mediums and problems.

I tried some after school art studios but because I felt restricted by their methods, I ended up preparing most of my art school portfolio completely by my own taste and standards.”

Jeff Katz

“My high school art class wasn’t very rigorous. My high school teacher didn’t really push us to make a lot of work. I probably [only] made three pieces.

The art school that I was applying to required these two particular assignments; I waited until the weekend before they were due to complete them. It was a very very stressful experience. I [wouldn’t recommend anyone] do what I did.

I think one of the greatest strengths of my art school portfolio was that I included a lot of breadth in it in terms of media and techniques. I wasn’t a master at these things. I wanted to show that I was willing to experiment and try new things.”

Monika Hedman

“Applying to art school for me was not as stressful as I thought it’d be after I ‘got over the hump’ and just went for it.

There’s a great section of Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland that really spoke to me:

“If you’re prone to disaster fantasies, you may even find yourself caught in the middle, staring at your half-finished canvas and fearing both that you lack the ability to finish it, and that no one will understand it if you do.”

Lucy Saltonstall

I got really nervous and scared and felt like I had no time whatsoever. So immediately I went over to my art teachers and I started asking them all sorts of questions, trying to find all the resources I could. They told me that I just needed to start making, making as much as I could in whatever free time I had.

Remember to show you are. Colleges are looking for a fit, so you want to show as much of your personality as you possibly can through your work.”

Karas Cowger

“Developing a portfolio was a stressful yet fulfilling experience for me. During high school, I was fortunate enough to do a summer pre-college program twice to really refine my work and experiment with different mediums.

Even throughout my high school years I took figure drawing classes every weekend to understand human form and during classes I would sketch my friends. This endless cycle of creating opened a new world of ideas and concepts I love to make and share.

The goal for my portfolio was for it to reflect my emotions and knowledge as an artist. There was never a time I didn’t draw while building my portfolio and despite the stress, it was worth it.”

Annelise Yee

“I had already taken a wide range of art classes, so I had a fair amount of work ranging from glass work to charcoal drawings to figure drawings, so I wasn’t really worried about diversity in my artworks.

I would recommend talking to art teachers.  I found my parents to not be that helpful. Their comments were more like, ‘Well, this is cool.’  That’s not very helpful, so I would stick to art teachers.

I was actually Googling the art school portfolios for those art schools, and comparing what I had to everyone else. And honestly I was terrified.

What I learned after I got into art school is that they’re not necessarily looking for the most stellar work ever in your art school portfolio. They’re looking for potential.”

Caffrey Fielding

“Preparing an art school portfolio was all about creating as much work as possible. It was much less stressful to create new work without predetermined goals, rather than make work specifically for my art school portfolio. Then I was able to select the best images I had from a larger group.”

Maya Sternberg

“Applying to art school was a very interesting situation for me. I now had to send my artworks off without knowing who is going to see them and what they think. I feel that this notion forced me to push my art skills beyond their limits, and to manage my time even better than before.

The entire process was a huge learning experience for me, and having to juggle it with everything else going on in my life (senior year, extracurriculars, family, etc.) allowed me to see how I function under such a great amount of pressure.”

Olivia Hunter

My decision to apply to art school was a result of attending a summer pre-college art program.

I took a couple of art classes at my high school, and some outside of school.  With these classes and creating art on my own, I was able to compile a diverse art portfolio that got accepted to six out of the seven schools I applied to!

Rachel Shin

“Developing my art school portfolio was quite a stressful but fulfilling experience for me. I unfortunately did not have a strong art program at the high school I attended, and it was a lot of self motivation because of that. I have been very fortunate however to have been able to attend a summer pre-college program.

Throughout this process, I was really able to understand the types of artwork and mediums that are enjoyable for me. From this, I was able to focus my skills on creating more conceptually adept and narrative works of art.”

Vivian Kong

“I have been doing art for as long as I can remember. It has always dominated my life and been my passion. For me, art provides a gateway to freedom and expression.

Through any form of art, there is a deep layer of understanding between the artist and the audience or viewer. This opportunity for connection inspires me to generate that layer of unique understanding by creating art in a variety of forms. The complex messages that could only be sent visually motivates me to keep creating through a variety of media.

Amelia Rozear

“I enjoy character design, as well as painting and pushing the boundaries of everything that I create. I love experimenting with different effects and techniques in my artwork, especially through digital media, such as Photoshop.

I am motivated by my love of storytelling and creating characters, as well as the people I meet or observe in my everyday life.”

Eugenia Yoh

“Preparing for my art school portfolio was one of the most enjoyable and stressful times of my life. One one hand, the experience could be perceived as pleasurable, mostly because my mom forced me to draw.

However, it was also frustrating.  Perhaps the hardest challenge to overcome was not the action of creating the art, but the psychological endurance to keep going in order to meet the rapidly approaching deadline.”

Emma Ratner

“Building my art school portfolio felt like a whirlwind, it required a lot of time, focus, and determination. At a summer pre-college program I attended, I learned so much that my art changed drastically.

My art school portfolio building experience was a crazy period, but the push to consistently produce artwork led me to fall even more in love with art and proved that art school was for me.”

Elizabeth Yuan

“My experience in preparing an art school portfolio was very natural as I did not know I wanted to go to an art school. The summer pre-college art program I attended definitely helped this process a lot and I encourage anyone to go to a summer pre-college art program if they can.

Although I think that lack of a thoughtful theme hurt my body of work a little bit, it is important to always draw what you like and learn from this process rather than stress over it.”

© 2021 ArtProf. All rights reserved. Site Disclaimer.