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 […]

BFA Art School Portfolios Premium Track

Preparing an art school portfolio to apply for an undergraduate BFA degree is a major undertaking, and it can be an intimidating process that is stressful, especially if you are doing it all by yourself without any guidance or assistance. The curriculum we will use is from our BFA Portfolios Track. Here is your opportunity […]

BFA Art School Portfolios TRACK: Lesson 10

Prompt Invent an imagined exterior space that shows physical depth and tells a story. What is the story of that space? Create a specific color palette, composition, and point of view to tell that story. pick a type of environment Desert, jungle, underwater, sky, mountains, suburban, industrial, snow, rocks, canyons RECOMMENDED MEDIA Any 2D art […]

BFA Art School Portfolios TRACK: Lesson 9

Prompt Create a narrative artwork that shows physical depth through an interior space. What is the story of that space? Create a specific color palette, composition, and point of view to tell that story. pick a place Kitchen, bathroom, a bedroom, closet, hallway, garage, attic, basement. RECOMMENDED MEDIA Any 2D art media BRAINSTORMING & THUMBNAILS Do brainstorming […]

BFA Art School Portfolios TRACK: Lesson 8

Prompt Create an artwork that uses both text and images. pick a subject Magazine cover: The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Time Movie poster Book cover Shakespeare poster Google Doodle Travel poster RECOMMENDED MEDIA Any 2D art media. BRAINSTORMING & THUMBNAILS Do brainstorming exercises to work out your ideas. Draw at least 6 thumbnail sketches to plan out the composition. Once […]

BFA Art School Portfolios TRACK: Lesson 7

Prompt Create 2 sculptures that are abstract representations of 2 contrasting sides of your personality. brainstorming & THUMBNAILs Write a list of your personality traits. Choose 2 traits that contrast with each other. Draw shapes that are related to those personality traits. Compose those shapes into a design for a sculpture. RECOMMENDED MEDIA Supply list. […]

BFA Art School Portfolios TRACK: Lesson 6

Prompt Create a painting with a specific color scheme that conveys an emotional mood. Pick a subject Paint yourself as you imagine you will be at 114 years old. Self-Portrait as a fruit or vegetable. Transform a celebrity into a monster, the celebrity has to be unrecognizable in your drawing. brainstorming & THUMBNAILs Do brainstorming […]

BFA Art School Portfolios TRACK: Lesson 5

Prompt Create a drawing where colors are mixed through layering. Pick a subject Interpret the Wong-Baker Faces scale (6 levels of pain) Create a contemporary version of Argus Illustrate a Mandrake brainstorming & THUMBNAILs Do brainstorming exercises to work out your ideas. Draw at least 6 thumbnail sketches to plan out the composition. Once you have chosen a […]

BFA Art School Portfolios TRACK: Lesson 4

Prompt Create 1 mixed media artwork that has these features: a shape that is not a rectangle uses at least 2 materials that are not from an art store. uses collage in some capacity. Pick a subject Illustrate a phobia, example: claustrophobia Illustrate a superstition Illustrate a Japanese spirit brainstorming exercises to do Word association […]

BFA Art School Portfolios TRACK: Lesson 3

Prompt 1 sustained drawing, any subject, drawn 100% from life the entire time you work on it. Be sure you are excited about your subject! Ideas drawing from life Still life you set up yourself. If you want to complain that still life is boring, it’s your fault that you don’t like your still life. […]

BFA Art School Portfolios TRACK: Lesson 2

Prompt Complete 6 hours of 2-10 min. drawings, any subject, all drawn from life. If you cheat and use photos, you might cackle that you’re “getting away with it, ” but actually, you’re digging your own grave, completely missing the point of this prompt, and you won’t learn much. So go ahead and waste your […]

BFA Art School Portfolios TRACK: Lesson 1

Prompt Make a viewfinder by cutting a rectangular window into a piece of cardboard. Pick 1 room in your residence, and walk around holding the viewfinder and frame little “scenes” in that room that interest you. Play with getting up close vs standing further back, and aim for a broad variety of scenes. goal Create […]

BFA Art School Portfolio TRACK: Ongoing

Ongoing Assignment + Weekly Assignments This ongoing assignment is to be done simultaneously with the weekly assignments. However, if your schedule doesn’t fit well with this, and you want to do the ongoing assignment at a separate time from the weekly assignments, our suggestion is to do the ongoing assignment for 3 weeks straight. The […]

BFA Art School Portfolio TRACK

Our BFA Art School Portfolio Track is a structured sequence of prompts and video lessons that will support the development of artworks for your portfolio. This free track is created with the specific intent to balance gaining a broad range of skills while also achieving the goal of creating a finished portfolio for your art […]

Should You Go to Art School?

Whether to go to art school is a tough decision, there so many factors to be considered. This video discusses whether art school is the right fit for you, and what are the most important considerations. Explained are the primary advantages are of attending art school, as well as the many challenges that come with […]

National Portfolio Day

Get ready for honest feedback on your portfolio Finally, the real test of the strength of your portfolio is attending a local National Portfolio Day event, where representatives from art schools and colleges with art programs across the United States are available to critique your portfolio in person.  If you’re really serious about being accepted into a […]

Art Major in College vs. Art School

What is it like being an art major at a university vs. attending art school? This video weighs the pros and cons of being at an art major at a university, how it affects how to approach the college admissions process, how to figure out whether studying art at a college is a better fit […]

How to Write an Artist Statement

Artist statements often feel like a contradiction for many artists, and it’s a process that most us dread as artists. Asking someone who is used to expressing themselves visually to write a statement feels unfair, if we were good at writing we would have been writers!  However, artist statements are an important part of having […]

Art School Portfolio Examples

We have compiled several art school portfolios here for you to see the broad range of ways you can approach your own portfolio! We know it can be intimidating at times to see other student’s portfolios and to get discouraged, know that ALL students applying to art school feel that way, you are not along! […]

Art School Portfolio: Feedback

Creating a portfolio should not be an effort that you have to do entirely on your own.  Yet it’s very common that many students do not take the initiative to seek out feedback and help on their portfolios. Don’t get stuck in your own ways with your portfolio and shut out any outside opinions.  Because […]

Art School Portfolio: Color

Make sure that you have both black and white artworks as well as artworks that display a full range of color. Black and white artworks are important so that you can demonstrate an understanding of a wide range of tones and value,  and to explore contrast and lighting. The color artworks you show in an art school portfolio should […]

Art School Portfolio: Brainstorming

Identify the clichés Take the initiative to create artworks that demonstrate your thinking process, that pushes beyond the most literal art cliché. In fact, the best way to combat the danger of a cliché is to eliminate that option immediately. When Prof Lieu does brainstorming exercises with her studio art classes, she asks the students to draw […]

Art School Portfolio: Media

You need to make sure that your portfolio represents a diverse range of art media. Showing many art media is a way to demonstrate that you have taken the initiative to learn and hone skills in contrasting art media.   Step outside of what you see everyone else in high school doing, which is probably limited […]

Art School Portfolio: Drawings

Drawings are the core of a portfolio You might have 15 digital paintings with an impressive amount of technical skill, but none of that will matter if you have poor drawings. In terms of drawing media, the vast majority of high school students are creating tight, conservative, photo realistic pencil drawings drawn from photographs. Drawing is not about just […]

Art School Portfolio: Presentation

Presentation matters Be sure that everything in your portfolio is neatly presented.   This means no white backgrounds, no dirty fingerprints, no random sketchbook drawings, no ripped edges, no half finished figures, etc.  It takes very little time (sometimes just a few minutes!)  to clean up your presentation.  The same drawing presented in a neat way […]

Art School Portfolio: Drawing from Life & Photos

Drawing from life is rare nowadays Drawing from life is hands down the number one, absolutely essential thing to do that almost all high school students fail to do. This problem is so prominent, that drawing from direct observation is now the rare exception among high school art students. Just following this one directive will distinguish your work from […]

Art School Portfolio: Subject Matter

Show your willingness to experiment Depicting a wide range of subject matter throughout your entire art school portfolio demonstrates your willingness and interest to work in many contrasting ways. There is an endless range of possibilities when it comes to subject matter in a portfolio. Admissions officers don’t want to see an art school portfolio […]

Art School Portfolio: Sketchbooks

Your sketchbook shows your thought process An art school portfolio benefits a lot from having a slide to show an image or two of a sketchbook spread. The advantage of showing a sketchbook spread is that it’s an opportunity for you to demonstrate your thinking, sketching, and brainstorming process in it’s raw, unedited form. A […]

Preparing an Art School Portfolio: How to Start

What do I need to know to start? Preparing an art school portfolio for college admission is not a casual undertaking, it’s very common for high school students to underestimate how much time and labor is involved.  Creating the artworks for an art school portfolio is not simply the amount of time it would take […]

Art School Portfolio: Subjects & Themes

How do you begin to think conceptually? Unfortunately, many art students are taught to learn technique and content separately. They are instructed to first focus exclusively on mastering technique because they are told that they are “not ready” to address the subject matter of their artwork. The consequence is that students develop technical proficiency, but […]

Art School Portfolio: Photographing 2D Art

Photographs can make or break an artwork One of my artist colleagues once said to me “As artists, we live and die by our photographs.” Today, the vast majority of the time, people will see our artwork on a screen before they see it in person, if they ever do!  The photograph of your artwork […]

Art School Portfolio: Photographing 3D Art

3D artwork is especially difficult to photograph well, and are the most problematic photographs for most students.   I rarely see 3D artwork in an art school portfolio that is photographed well.  The problem is that 3D artwork varies tremendously from artwork to artwork, so every single 3D artwork really requires its own custom setup in […]