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Roye Zhang
High School Student

Art School Admissions Portfolio


Alex Rowe, Illustrator & Children's Book Artist

Alex Rowe
Illustrator & Children’s Book Artist

Artist Statement
“I am an international student studying at a high school in the U.S. I am currently preparing the art school admission portfolio for my regular decision colleges, as well as a concentration portfolio for scholastic competition (a school requirements.)

I didn’t realize art school was an option for college until my sophomore year of high school. Mostly, I learned how to draw from high school art class. Until I committed to the idea of applying to art school for college, I started to do more research on art making.

In the past, summer I participated in a summer pre-college program with a focus on illustration major. My interested majors for college including illustration, printmaking, and drawing.

For my portfolio, I’m wondering how to start more experimental projects to extend the variety of media because I know a lot college admission wants to see risk-taking during the art-making process, and I’m afraid most of my pieces seem ‘too safe’ or not interesting.”

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Partial Video Transcript

“I never thought about this when I was applying to art school, but when you think about what they’re looking for, they know that every student’s not going to enter into fill-in-the-blank major. They’re going to get everything from film students, to illustrators, to sculptors. So don’t be afraid about really showing what your expertise is at the same time as showing your willingness to change, your willingness to grow.

Starting with the first couple of images, these three, it’s really good that you’ve organized it with these life drawings first. These life drawings, charcoal black and white. But they all have the same issues for me, some better than others, where they don’t quite push the space enough. They don’t quite push the value enough.

This one is doing really well with creating a space, but you can see how in that open doorway as it leads beck into the hallway, and we can talk about where you’re showing this in later pieces really well, but since it’s the same value as the foreground and the middle ground, it all kind of becomes a flat space.

Now, for this one you have really dark, heavy lines to outline the figure, but you’re not really using those darks for anything except the hair and those outlines. There’s that one shadow below the leg that’s really grounding the image, which is really cool, and you can see already how that is doing so much work to add gravity to the piece. But it needs to be pushed further with the rest of the image.

This one is doing also, like, a better job, but it needs to be pushed a little bit further. Like that black in the background, push that way backwards, make it darker, bring out those more subtle lights and shadows in the toy itself. You’re doing some really cool things with the reflective light underneath the head, and the shadows coming across really well, and that texture in the white surface on top. It’s a good start, but they need to be pushed forward.

You have later in your portfolio, images that show that you can push them further. You’ve got to work on the space a little bit more. See, notice on the bottom one how the trees in the background, some of them appear to be at the same level as the tree in the mid ground. The one on top, there’s too much dark so it’s having the same problem but for a different reason. The biggest issue is bringing out that value to create space.

This is a stellar not just example, but also layout. This is so professionally done and very well presented. You’re adventurous nature with art, you’re desire to learn and grow, and make new works, yeah it’s absolutely stellar. They’re well photographed which is a tricky part for sculptures, they’re well displayed, and the variation in the shapes is so cool and unique, You have some that are very simple and straightforward, and some that are getting really exciting.

This one is alright, I don’t think you need it in your portfolio. It’s one for those, where there’s a thing that comes up often with portfolios of you show the same skills better in other pieces. The colors are pretty great, the application is alright, it’s just not wowing me like some of your other work.

This is really cool, and it’s not just in the application and your technique, but also the boldness and the excitement. And it’s cool that you’re showing these different levels. Don’t be afraid to show really what you’re specifying.”

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