What should be in a portfolio?

If you’ve done a life drawing class you
would have hundreds of images from life drawing. Pick ten and make sure that those ten reflect different skills maybe wet media, maybe charcoal maybe something you’ve worked on for a long time maybe a five minute sketch. You definitely should show that you tried several different techniques and if you’ve got something particularly interesting you should do more. Also, the portfolio should show the design process and the way you are thinking… that’s what the interviewer is most interested in. I prepared this really amazing book where everything was polished and every page was laid out really nicely with short explanations but during my interview, what the interviewer really liked seeing was the sketchbooks that I kept while traveling, the sketchbooks you have while you’re doing the process the messy stuff, the stuff that I was embarrassed to show. I would be like ‘okay, let’s look at here and not look at this and look at that’ and he’ll be like ‘no, let’s look at what you didn’t want to see’. We ask students not only to present work that is skill based but also to think about a visual journal or a diary, a notebook, a sketchbook that explores things that are more unique to them. I’ve got a sketchbook that is too messy and so full of nonsense but it was really part of the process… But it’s fascinating to look at because here I can see the way you’ve labored over your ideas and that you’re trying to visualize what’s in your mind. We’re human and everybody makes mistakes and sometimes things don’t work out but I think it’s very important to show how you would go about to resolve it and to make it work. The outcome was these twenty blackbirds and my final piece is this. Now, I don’t feel this has worked how I imagined it in my head. – How did you envisage it?
– I envisaged it a lot more bright, a lot more bold, with a lot more textiles… Be selective, in the sense that you do take some time to think about your work and how you want to structure and order it. That is a very important process that I need to recognize from an applicant because I can see that they’re being professional. I explored this different theme before and then I went into a cry… Think about it telling a story when you open it, what is that the person looking at your portfolio is going to see first? – It’s a nice, strong opening page just tell me a little bit about these ghost birds here. – Well, it was just like a relaxing stuff… That first page is really important. A lot of students will tend to put work they have done in the chronological order that they have done it say, at school. Quite often the piece that’s the oldest will
be the weakest so always start with a strong piece of work a strong beginning, a strong ending and then the journey in the middle is where you could put work that’s not finished or that maybe veered off in a way that you weren’t quite expecting but that’s what makes it interesting. One life experience can be the reason why you want to do film or whatever you are trying to do. I think I experienced one of them just a year after I got my baccalaureate and I was wondering what I wanted to do. It’s all about a trip I made to the country to see a singer and the experience I had to face throughout that journey. I think it was the moment when I said ‘that should be made into a film!’ It might be that you started up a project from a single photograph a random photograph that you took when you were out shopping and then that might develop into something else and we’d like to see that bit of research and a few sketches and then how it developed into your final
piece. It’s really hard to say ‘I want to make a film all myself’, but that happens with everything… the artist always has to put himself in it. – So if you were to look at your portfolio, where do you feel is your strongest work? – The strongest one is that one… It’s really important that students understand that there is a certain amount of research and writing that is key to the development of their
work. – When you design a new look for the company, do they give you any cues? Do they say the color they want? The fabric? The material? With the materials we had the freedom to choose which ones we thought would work and he had a bit of freedom to play around but they were quite specific on what they wanted but, again, that was good practice for me because everything before hand I’d had the complete freedom to do whatever I wanted whereas here it was working to really
tight briefs… Having a good base knowledge of the area and specific knowledge of people you respect and of the processes they adopt really help you form your own opinion. I think this body of work started mainly with this image, which is Meret Oppenheim… What we try and do with students when
we get them onto the foundation is to break down the conception that they are being guided all the time. My advice would be to make sure that within all the technical work, the beautiful drawings that’s taken them weeks to do I would also like to see some creative work which is maybe more collage or
montage or dealing with found objects. See, I don’t dislike the fact that you’ve
you’ve got a fairly individual way of approaching… When you’re in the initial stages of applying to a degree or something I think tutors like to see your progression from the idea to the finished piece or whether it hasn’t been resolved I think that story is
really important. Don’t be embarrassed to show that sketchbook that you think nobody wants to see or even if it’s a book where you’ve just been writing lots and you’ve got a random line drawing or a doodle include that because that often is the essence of you, it’s you thinking. – What helped you decide what to put into
your portfolio? – Well, first of all, I wanted to show some basic drawing skills I have… Obviously, we want them to show the passion because it is very much about an extension of their personality. So, don’t submit what you think we want to see submit what you want us to see. – I tried to show my passion from this page, which is clothing, really and something to do with
character… Obviously you want to show off your best pieces and if you’ve got loads of stuff that you really like it’s going to be difficult but you’ve just got to think about it pragmatically. Looking at all of your work, what work is necessary to be in there? – I studied an artist called Margie Gullling whose work is mainly photography but it’s also incorporated with knitting, crochet, stitching… Just think about, if you’re having an interview what you could say about that piece of work if there’s something that you really like but you can’t really say much about it… then it’s probably best not to put that in. – As you can see, I started with young to old an old person misses their youth and wants to make themselves young again… I’m comparing the two…

11 Replies to “What should be in a portfolio?”

  1. thx for showing this. I'm not applying this university, but getting tips for portfolio's is very helpful

  2. So what type of portfolio would a student applying for film/television give to the uni? Also drawings and illustrations?

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