5 Ways to Create an Awesome Portfolio for Applications

5 Ways to Create an Awesome Portfolio for Applications

Impress art school admissions staff with a thorough and modern portfolio.

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Just like books and newspapers have slowly made the transition from ink and paper to glossy screens and "clickable" links, artists are finding modern, technically-cable ways of showcasing their portfolios.

"The creative world is changing unbelievably fast, and portfolios are no exception," said Jordan Mederich, creative director at MyMediaGuy.com. "Frankly, if you do not have an online presence to showcase your talents, you're a nobody. It's absolutely necessary to make it easy, fast, and accessible to anyone who may be interested in your work."

Learn how to maximize your chances of admission to art or design school with these tips that will help you build an online portfolio of your work.

1. Get organized.

Heather Hiles, CEO of Pathbrite, a digital portfolio company, emphasized the importance of providing a title, description, context and category for each piece of work. While your piece might speak to you, it's important other people get the message too.

2. Keep it classy.

Rose Cefalu, owner of Racer Media, Inc., pointed out that the online portfolio is meant to provide admissions counselors with a clear view of what you might offer the professional world should they enroll you in their artistic program.

Use proper grammar, and don't hesitate to have a friend who majors in English give the text of your online portfolio a once over. "Students get very wrapped up in social media, but having a professional presence that stands alone is so important," Cefalu said.

3. Make it easy to find and navigate.

Mederich advises students to steer clear of long URLs "that nobody can remember."

"Let your URL say something about you or how you want to be perceived," he said, adding that it is also important for a student to regularly update a portfolio by featuring his or her best work up front.

"Your work screams not only about the quality of your work, but it also shares your work ethic, your artistic style, and your versatility," Mederich said. "No longer can you be a 'one job' artist. You need to be well rounded and be willing to explore various mediums and purposes."

4. Learn to identify a motif.

Jolene Hanson, gallery director at the California-based G2 Gallery, said this step is crucial in designing an online art portfolio, but can be "harder for students who are typically working in multiple mediums with various mentors on a diverse array of projects."

"Looking for the similarities in work across mediums and subject matter is the way to find the motifs that will comprise a body of work," Hanson said. "What is it in the work that makes it yours, what is your style, what is your concept, and what is your direction across the board?"

5. Stop putting it off.

"Start now," Mederich said. "There's no reason you shouldn't be doing exactly what you want to be doing. Start your portfolio, attach links to your Twitter and Facebook pages, feature a blog to help others like you, and work to become an expert in your field. Do whatever it takes to nab every opportunity to show your talent."

The bottom line? Store your old-fashioned portfolio on your bookshelf and start learning about the options that are available online for showcasing your artwork.

"It's never been easier to share your work, and share it for free. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on printing your work and shipping packages to schools and employers," Mederich said.

For a couple bucks, you can create a portfolio that tells your story, and can stretch the globe in a nanosecond –– why wouldn't you take advantage of that?

Quick Tips

  • Organize artwork by including a title, description, context and category for each piece.
  • Keep your portfolio professional and avoid common grammar mistakes when describing a piece of artwork.
  • Choose a simple and memorable URL for your site.
  • Highlight artwork by choosing a motif that ties everything together.

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