How to Stand Out with Your Art School Portfolio

Here are topics & art media that will make your art school portfolio stand out from the thousands of applications art schools receive. Many students fall into the trap of creating generic, cliché artwork that tends to all look the same. Here are specific actions you can take with your art school portfolio to get your work to jump out from the crowd and be more distinctive. Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Jordan McCracken-Foster.

Video Walkthrough

  • When an admissions officer is reviewing thousands of portfolios, many artworks start to look the same.
  • Admissions officers are looking at so many images that they look at each image for just a few seconds.
  • Try out more unusual surfaces, ripped up cardboard,plywood, that can all create wonderful textures.
  • Not every supply you use has to come from the art store!
  • Search around your house and outdoors for supplies that can be transformed into art supplies.
  • Mixed media isn’t seen very often in high school.
  • Experiment with different combinations of mixed media.
  • Mixed media can be intimidating, but be willing to give anything a chance, no matter what you think.
  • Political art, current events, and history are subjects few high school students address in their portfolios.
  • Political art can be dicey, but it can also show engagement with your subject matter that is different.
  • For most students a rectangle or square is the default shape of an artwork.
  • Creating an artwork with uneven edges, or a fractured shape has a lot of creative potential.
  • Wearable art can be exciting, but steer clear of adding a design onto a JPG image of a blank T-shirt.
  • Purchasing a portfolio critique for MFA admission.

Artists mentioned