Recently I got a comment on my latest blog asking what advice I would give to a prospective student getting ready to apply to an art school like Parsons. This is a common question I get on campus tours and daily in The New School Welcome Center and instead of replying to just her, I thought it would make a great blog post for all y’all!
It’s stressful applying to schools and even more so applying to art school. In my case, it seemed completely foreign to me to create a portfolio instead of doing what my friends were doing – writing essays and sending transcripts. All of sudden there was this whole other major component that I couldn’t get help with because no one knew how to put one together. I was out on my own researching and trying to figure out how to actually apply to art school correctly and with the best portfolio I could put together. So I can understand where y’all are coming from and hopefully with a couple of tips I can help you start preparing to apply to art and design schools, like Parsons.
1. Start Sketchbookin’– If your going to go show your portfolio in person (such as at National Portfolio Day or at an admissions appointment), admissions counselors love to see your sketchbook! A sketchbook allows them to see what you are actually thinking about and how you think creatively- it’s really the most exposed you can be. I suggest to newbies in the sketchbook game to set aside 15 minutes a night and start doodling. And when I say a strict 15 minutes a night, I mean from 9:00 to 9:15 you are going to sketchbook. Not only will this build your sketchbook, you’ll get better at drawing and have more ideas for final pieces you may want to include in your portfolio.
2. Take a College Class– A lot of universities and art schools offer portfolio prep classes for high school students on the weekends. So if you live near a major city like I did, they are easy to find or even some local community colleges offer them. My high school use to get scholarships for classes but on average a class will be around 200 dollars. These classes not only give you more training but will help you create more pieces to choose from for your portfolio.
3. Make, Make and Make– If your summer is full of nothing but your butt on a couch, start making! When it says put together a portfolio of 12 pieces, it doesn’t necessarily mean just make 12 pieces. It’s easier to just make, make and make and then narrow it down to 12 pieces. Not only will you have more to choose from, an admissions counselor during a portfolio review can help you decide what to submit for a final application. So don’t limit yourself, just create!
4. Be You– My advice for any student is to create what you want to create. Art schools aren’t looking for the next Van Gogh – they are looking for someone with new ideas and fresh talent. So don’t think you need your portfolio to be all traditional landscapes, silly fruit still lives and pictures of hands. Liven it up, include things you like to do because once again it’s going to show what makes you different than any other applicant. So if you like to draw comics, write graffiti, make sculptures out of trash, or paint murals – submit it. I like to give the advice: when you are making your portfolio, have half of your portfolio show technical ability (like the landscape, a self portrait or a still life) and then the other half be completely you and what you like to do. So don’t hesitate, the wilder the better!
I hope these tips help all prospective applicants out there and best of luck on creating your portfolios! If you have any questions or up coming blog suggestions don’t hesitate to comment below!