Portfolio Tips & Guidelines


  • Provide 8 original examples of your best studio work– hard copies, original work, or digital representations (please bring a personal device–laptop or tablet–if you choose to show them digitally).


  • Gear your portfolio toward your area of emphasis (i.e. 2D, 3D, Photography, Pre-Visual Communication: illustration + design). But also include some variety in your portfolio to demonstrate your flexibility.
  • Save your very best pieces for the FIRST and LAST spots in your portfolio: a strong start will demand attention and will set a pace; a strong finish will be the last thing they see and will stick with them.

There’s nothing like seeing the original piece of artwork, but there are times when you can only show a reproduction:

  • For 2D artwork, use a scanner when you can.
    • Scan at no less than 300 ppi. This is also ideal printing resolution.
    • If you’re preparing your images for an online portfolio, start with 300 ppi and save a copy scaled down to 72 ppi. It’s always better to overshoot the image quality– you can always lower image quality but cannot raise it.
    • Enlarging without adequate resolution will yield terrible results. If you must enlarge your work, first scan higher than 300 ppi to compensate.
  • For 3D pieces or work that is too large to scan, use the best camera available to you. The setup, however, can be even more important than the megapixel count on your camera:
    • Use bright white lights or sunlight. A couple of lights or soft, diffused light can help eliminate unwanted shadows.
    • Place your work against a large white or grey sheet or paper.
    • Get your camera as steady as possible. Brace it or use a tripod.
    • Avoid clutter and any other distracting elements at all costs.
    • Play with your White Balance settings, if you can, to make sure your colors, values, etc. are true-to-life.
    • A strong piece of artwork that is poorly documented will look like a weak piece to the reviewers.
  • If you’re printing work for your portfolio, print at 300 ppi. Black portfolio binders are great for displaying these. Michaels and other art stores sell these in a range of sizes. They have clear sleeves to hold your work.



  1. Technical Proficiency / Craftsmanship:
    • Effectiveness of individual project’s fabrication as evidenced by:
      • Creative and innovative technical problem-solving.
      • Mastery of techniques and formal elements employed (composition, line, value, etc.)
  2. Concept:
    • Student’s thoughtful investment in subject/idea as evidenced by:
      • Creative and innovative intellectual problem-solving.
      • Ability of finished work to communicate chosen subject matter. • Evidence of critical thinking / conceptual exploration.
  3. Presentation:
    • Degree to which documentation clearly and qualitatively displays work.
  4. Creativity / Inventiveness:
    • At least some of the projects indicate a motivation to generate work outside of assigned projects.
    • Projects clearly made for assignments push beyond formulaic responses.

Prospective student into at the School of Art website.

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