Portfolio Development Tips
Don't miss out on our interactive workshops and the chance to gain personalised portfolio advice from our expert academics.
We will assist you with preparing your portfolio and application to study for:
— Bachelor of Visual Arts
— Bachelor of Visual Arts and Bachelor of Advanced Studies
Saturday 12 October
The University of Sydney, Oriental Room S204, Quadrangle Building
Places are limited and registrations are essential. Register here.
A portfolio presents a sample of your artistic interests and explorations. It is carefully and thoughtfully arranged, and documents your ideas, experiments, skills and the process you use to make your work.
We want to see your portfolio because we need to gain an understanding of who you are – your abilities, commitment and passions. Your portfolio tells us about the kind of artist you want to be.
Choose up to 10 different pieces to display. When you pick a portfolio format, make sure it presents each piece in the best possible way.
No two portfolios are the same and, because we are a contemporary art school, we know each of our applicants will have an individual style. The choices you make in compiling your portfolio will give us some insight into the type of work and ideas you value, and the creative approaches that have inspired you to focus on visual art studies.
Think of it as a platform for a conversation about yourself. Which work will help you talk about your artistic interests? Are there pieces that will show us your ability to stick to a project even if it was challenging? What will show us that you are motivated to work hard and are not afraid to take risks?
Sometimes it is better to have a small number of very strong work than a large selection that includes some weaker pieces. Variety can be important, but don’t leave out good work just to make room for something in a different media or style.
We are very interested in any self- initiated work you may have, or projects you have developed outside your course or your classes. If you worked on these projects with other people, make sure you are clear about your role in the collaboration and acknowledge the contributions of others.
We are asking you to show us who you are, and that you want to learn, investigate and develop ideas.
We encourage you to bring your portfolio to the Portfolio Day, even though you might not have selected or finished all the works.
We will look at your portfolio in progress and make recommendations about what to include and how to present it.
Assembling your work can take time, so start early and get some feedback from your art teacher or another art professional. Get as much work together as you can, and then edit.
Think about the placement and order of the work. You should begin and end with your best work.
We are happy to see the actual work, but this might not be practical if the work is big or delicate, or is no longer in your possession. Taking digital photographs is a standard way to document your work – you just need to make sure you have chosen the most suitable format. For example, 3D work might require documentation from more than one viewpoint.
Alternatively, you might have a series of artworks, in which case you can provide digital images of each element of the series. Check the colour, lighting and clarity of your photographs so that we don’t miss important details. And make sure the digital files are formatted and sized appropriately.
Try to include some work that displays a larger investment of time and effort. This might be clear because of the way you constructed the work, or the materials you sourced. It might be apparent from the story you can tell about the process, and through your support material.
Sketchbooks are a good way to illustrate ideas, plans and experiments, and show us how you think. If you have recorded your ideas in a visual diary or notebook, you can bring it along to the Portfolio Day. Our staff will be interested to see how you develop your initial ideas through research and by trying things out. Not everything in your portfolio needs to be a finished, polished work.
Through this process, you’ll be able to show us that you are able to make your ideas come to life, and that you can communicate them well.
At our Portfolio Day, we listen to the way you talk about your projects. You can support this conversation by showing us work that has a clear or inventive connection between your ideas and the materials and process you used to express them.
A portfolio is always a work in progress. As you develop as an artist, you will edit and refine your portfolio over and over again. The work in your portfolio is always just a sample of your experience and capabilities.
We see portfolios in many styles and it is not necessary to purchase a black portfolio case or mount your photographs on display boards.
You can provide up to ten (10) examples in the following ways:
If your work includes video and sound you can also submit a selection of sequences compiled into a showreel and saved in MOV format. The maximum file size for uploading your portfolio is 10MB.
You may submit your portfolio for the Bachelor of Visual Arts and Bachelor of Visual Arts/Bachelor of Advanced Studies electronically as follows:
Please include a short statement of between 200-250 words describing some of the more developed projects in your portfolio. Include information about the ideas and processes involved in generating the work. Specify details of whatever activities or experiences support your creative interests, and what you hope to achieve through your studies at Sydney College of the Arts.
Late submissions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.