Preparation

Prepare your portfolio

The faculty and staff of each Watkins program have prepared specific guidelines to help you create a strong portfolio. You’ll also find instructions on how to assemble and submit a digital portfolio.

Film

Here’s what we look for in a film portfolio:

  • Films or film clips. Include one or more short films. Keep your film reel short—five to eight minutes of video is sufficient to showcase your best work. If your films are longer, combine short excerpts from several projects. When including group productions, make note of your specific role.
  • Scripts, storyboards, and other supporting materials demonstrate additional dimensions of your abilities as a filmmaker. Include full scenes in your reel so that your skill at storytelling is clearly represented.

Fine Art

Here’s what we look for in a fine art portfolio:

  • Technical skill. If you excel in a particular medium or style, make sure to include more of that work.
  • Show us a variety of media so we can see that you have explored more than one mode of working. It’s best to include work from your art classes as well as work that you have created independently. The more you practice and learn new skills, the more work you will have to choose from. So, if your portfolio consists primarily of drawing, consider experimenting with paint, collage, or sculpture.
  • Direct observation. Fine artists and designers should include two or more realistic images created primarily from direct observation of real life. Examples include drawings and paintings in modes such as still life, figure study, landscapes, and interiors. Works created by referring to photographs or using your imagination are great too, but they don’t demonstrate your skills of direct observation.
  • Conceptual skill. Perhaps the most challenging skill to demonstrate is conveying ideas or emotions in your work. Creating a series of related works (as in an AP Art concentration) helps you to develop this ability. Consider making art about your life experience or about an illuminating response to historical and current events. Seek out professional artists who interest you and think about the meaning in their work.

Graphic Design

Here’s what we look for in a graphic design portfolio:

  • Artistic skill. Your portfolio should consist primarily of drawings, paintings, prints, or other artworks (see the guidelines for fine art portfolios above).
  • Design ability. Include an example that shows your design skills, one in which you have incorporated text and imagery—for example, an album cover, poster, or logo design. If you have taken classes in design, you should include your best digital work.
  • Works that you have created by hand (rather than digitally) are a very important aspect of a graphic design portfolio. Include drawings or a collage to illustrate your ability to assemble graphic elements.

Illustration

Here’s what we look for in an illustration portfolio:

  • Artistic skill. Your portfolio should consist primarily of drawings, paintings, prints, or other artworks (see the guidelines for fine art portfolios above).
  • Design ability. Include an example that shows your design skills, one in which you have incorporated text and imagery—a poster, for example, an album cover, or logo design. If you have taken classes in design, you should include your best digital work.
  • Works that you have created by hand (rather than digitally) are a very important aspect of a graphic design portfolio. Include drawings or a collage to illustrate your ability to assemble graphic elements.
  • Consider making a series of images that tells a story. Show us examples of your original characters and environments within a narrative context.

Interior Design

Here’s what we look for in an interior design portfolio:

  • Artistic skill. Your interior design portfolio can consist largely of fine art work (see the guidelines for fine art portfolios above).
  • Spaces and structures. Add life drawings of interior spaces or architectural structures. Photographs of a space you have designed or decorated will help convey your point of view and design sense.
  • Pattern and color. Works that emphasize pattern, texture, mood, and color theory in either realistic or abstract compositions provide another window on your design perspective.

Photography

Here’s what we look for in a photography portfolio:

  • Conceptual skill. Conceptual work is a key aspect of our photography program. Your portfolio should set you apart from the crowd and demonstrate your ability to convey an idea or an emotion through imagery.
  • Photographers often work in series—a group of photographs that illustrates the same idea or subject matter in diverse ways. A series may tell a story, whether that story is abstract or concrete.

Create a digital portfolio

Here’s how to submit your portfolio in digital form:

  • Use a camera or scanner to make digital images of your artwork. If necessary, crop the digital images so that your two-dimensional artwork fills the field of view and use a plain white or black background when documenting three-dimensional work. Take the photograph in a well-lit area. One way to achieve even lighting is to photograph your work outside on an overcast day or in the shade. Use a tripod and set your work on an easel, chair, or bench.
  • Correct images but keep them authentic. Use Photoshop or other imaging software to correct images as necessary, but don’t change the colors or contrast of your actual work. Keep your documentation as true to the original pieces as possible.
  • Catalogue your work. Keep a list of the title, media, dimensions, and date of each piece in your portfolio.
  • Describe each piece. When uploading your portfolio to the online application, enter complete information about each piece in the “description” section. This is the only information we will have about your work and your only chance to explain your vision and the process you used to create your work.