How to Prepare an MFA Art Portfolio

The process of preparing a portfolio for an MFA studio art requires a level of maturity and engagement with critical thinking. At the MFA level, the concerns shift from technical skills to developing a unique artistic vision.

This video explores the challenges and strategies that come with preparing an MFA portfolio. Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu, Yale MFA student Leyla Faye and Hunter College MFA student (and Art Prof Teaching Artist) Lauryn Welch.

Need help writing your personal statement?

You can purchase edits from Prof Lieu for your personal statement in your MFA application,

Video Walkthrough

  • Taking time off before starting an MFA is very useful.
  • Having work experience before starting an MFA really helps when searching for a job later.
  • Taking a gap year can be helpful.
  • Post-Baccalaureate programs are a great bridge to MFA programs.
  • MFA portfolios shouldn’t look like assignments from specific courses from a BFA program.
  • How important is your technique in an MFA portfolio?
  • MFA portfolios are not about showing off your technical skills.
  • Your vision and ability to engage with your content matters.
  • Many MFA programs in the US are around $70,000 per year.
  • In person MFA interviews.
  • MFA portfolios are about creating a body of work that is cohesive.
  • MFA applications require a personal statement about your artwork.
  • The reasons for getting an MFA are very different depending on the field.
  • There is a huge number of MFA applicants for very few spots.
  • MFA programs are extremely competitive because of numbers.
  • How to find an MFA program that is a good fit for your needs as an artist.
  • Customizing your portfolio based on the school you are applying to.
  • Getting letters of recommendations from undergraduate professors.

Purchase a Mock Interview

Practice and make all the mistakes you want without any pressure by purchasing a mock interview (artist call) with Prof Lieu or Lauryn.

Often it’s tough to know how you’ll perform at an interview without people who can help you simulate the situation. (there’s a limit to how much you can talk to yourself!)