By Kira Magrann
Portfolios are much like the mysterious unicorn of ancient myth. They’re a beast that is hard to tame, elusive in concept, technically beautiful but unique in each legend.
As an Admissions Counselor at CCAD, I’ve seen hundreds of high school portfolios and each one of them has been a unique creature. I aspire to get at the heart of the work, and give feedback to help students not only make the most beautiful portfolio they can but also to help them learn at this stage in their artistic growth.
To that end, this is part one of a three part series where I address those questions I have encountered most frequently on my travels. Let’s start with some of the basics.
“How many pieces does it have to have?”
There should be 10-20 pieces of finished artwork in your portfolio. It can be any medium, or any style, as long as it’s your best work. Remember, we’re looking for you to impress us. The more beautiful your artwork is, the more scholarship opportunity you have.
“So is my scholarship based just on my artwork?”
Nope. We look at both your artwork and your academics (GPA, SAT/ACT, letters of recommendation, personal statement) for scholarship. So your portfolio is a part of that equation, but not the only part.
“Does my portfolio need to have a theme?”
While it’s good to have some ideas that you’re communicating in your portfolio not every piece has to adhere to the same idea. If you’re working on a series based on robots, it’s ok to have four of those, and 10 other pieces that have nothing to do with robots at all.
“Is anime ok?”
Manga and comic book art illustration styles are fairly popular right now, and I’ve seen my share of anime in portfolios. While I’m an anime/manga fan myself (I love Ghost in the Shell) it’s not always the best thing to showcase a style that isn’t your own in your portfolio. It’s better to produce more original styles of illustration work that aren’t based on a style that already exists. So if you can, be inspired by that manga style, but make it your own. Try to stay away from big eyes and small mouths, and create original characters that belong to you. If you’re interested in illustrating the human form, including some figure drawing from life is also a great thing to do to show that you’re familiar with realistic anatomy before you’re abstracting it into your illustration style.
Join me next week when we dive further into questions about content. For instance, do you think it’s more important to have drawings in your portfolio than paintings or photography?
The CCAD Admissions blog brings prospective students and their families into ongoing conversation with CCAD students, admissions counselors, and financial aid staff—including occasional visits from other members of the CCAD family.