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Your portfolio is a collection of your strongest and newest work. It’s an important part of our admissions process for art and design students.

When we review your portfolio, we’re evaluating:

  • Your ability to communicate your ideas visually
  • Your innovation
  • How you use materials
  • Your understanding of art and design concepts  
  • Quality and organization of the work

Schedule a Portfolio Review

Here’s what it takes to put together a strong portfolio.

Conceptual Skills

Conceptual work is all about your ideas. It reflects your own thinking and interests. Most of your portfolio (6–8 pieces) should be conceptual. Include work in your portfolio that explores a subject, theme, or vision.

Technical Skills

We also want to see your understanding of art and design basics—color, line, value, space, composition, perspective, and proportion.

Part of your portfolio (4–6 pieces) should be observational work that highlights your ability to draw, paint, and create from what you see in real life.

Examples of observation work include:

  • Self-portraits
  • Still-life drawings
  • Landscapes
  • Interiors
  • Figure drawings

Do not include drawings that use photographs, online resources, or the artwork of others. These types of work are not observational.

Quality and Organization

How you present your artwork is nearly as important as the work you choose to include.

  • Include your best work only.
  • The images don’t have to be professionally photographed, but pay attention to their quality.
  • The artwork should fill the picture plane. No matting or framing.
  • Make a great first impression and finish with a piece that creates a lasting impact. Think about the relationship of one piece to the next.
  • Arrange the pieces in a sequence that highlights your potential and tells your story as a developing artist.
  • Consider a unifying element—artistic style, subject matter, or media—to establish the portfolio as a cohesive body of work.

Types of Work

Here are the types of work you could include in your portfolio. This applies to all campus-based BFA programs and the 3 art and design certificate programs:

  • Independent work that you did on your own, not part of a school assignment.
  • Work that is sequential or in a series.
  • A few sketchbook pages (but don’t fill your portfolio with these).
  • A few classroom assignment pieces, if they reflect who you are as an artist or designer, show your process, and relate to finished portfolio pieces. (But don’t fill your portfolio with these either.)

Examples by Subject

Animation & Motion Media

  • Character development sketches, if they’re your original characters.
  • Focus on fully-rendered images that put the characters in an environment to create a narrative.


  • Images in 2-D or 3-D design, graphic design, typography, or web and interactive media. Print- and screen-based work, including single-image, sequence, or time-based work.
  • Work that demonstrates how you think and communicate visually—sketchbooks, conceptual drawings, video, photography, visual presentations (science fair poster, PowerPoint or Tumblr), and other 2-D or 3-D work.


  • May be comprised exclusively of photographs.
  • Pieces from other visual arts are not required, but you may include video or artist’s books.
  • A focus on any aspect of photography, such as fine art, documentary, editorial, or commercial photography.
  • Analog or digital photography that demonstrates your personal vision and technical proficiency.
  • In-depth personal projects you’ve developed (strongly recommended).
  • Alternative process work, video, artist’s books, photographic construction, and photography integrated with other media.


  • Drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and collage work in traditional or digital media.
  • Pieces should display technical skills and conceptual ideas.
  • Classroom-based assignment pieces, if they're authentic and reflective of who you are as a developing artist.
  • Self-directed work and work that is sequential or in a series.
  • Sketchbook pages are welcome, especially if they show artistic process and relate to finished portfolio pieces.

Fine Arts

  • Drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and collage work is acceptable.
  • Pieces should display technical (skills) and conceptual (ideas).
  • Classroom-based assignment pieces, if they're authentic and reflective of who you are as a developing artist.
  • A range of independent work and series work.
  • Sketchbook pages are welcome, especially if they show artistic process and relate to finished portfolio pieces.

Digital Filmmaking

  • Work that shows your narrative storytelling ability—a script you’ve written, a storyboard you’ve created, or a scene you’ve sketched.
  • Still frames or photographs you’ve taken that show your camera work. If there’s a great scene or shot you are proud of, add it to your portfolio.
  • Short films, or excerpts from longer projects (12 minutes in total), that you did on your own or had a lead role in creating. If they’re group projects, tell us your role.
  • Not everyone has experience with video.  That’s OK! We want to see your photos, scripts, cartoons, or whatever else showcases your interest in telling great stories.

Visual Narrative

  • Your Visual Narrative portfolio should include both technical (skills) and conceptual (ideas) components.
  • The 12-20 images you submit may be in traditional, digital, or experimental media.
  • We welcome all platforms, including immersive story, podcast, live performance backdrop/stage set, board game, video game, picture book, comic, web comic, social media, social networking, and social networking advertisements.
  • Demonstrate an equal interest as both an author and an artist in relation to storytelling.
  • Show your interest in pushing the boundaries of platform.
  • Keep your work that is sequential or in a series together; for example, group your panels or pages together rather than submitting them as separate images.
  • We highly encourage you to submit sketchbook pages, especially if they show artistic process (including written and visual), notes/sketches, and they are related to finished portfolio pieces.
  • You do not need to submit writing samples. You will develop your visual and written voice over the course of the program.