Our story begins:
Let’s say you’re a high school senior; that’s exciting and terrifying, so take a breath and celebrate that you’ve made it this far! You’ve been taking art classes and making lots of work and have a passion for art, but now it’s time to decide what goes into the portfolio that you’re
Is a portfolio required for your program?
No, it’s not required, but I want to include a supplemental portfolio:
Supplemental art portfolios can tell us a lot about how you balance your passions with everything else that you need to do to graduate from high school. Usually, a supplemental portfolio only includes 3-5 examples of work. Make sure you choose pieces that highlight your time management—ones where you’ve put in the time and energy to refine and finish the work. These could be pieces you’ve done in class, in a summer program, or on your own and can be in any visual media—just make sure they’re done!
Yes, a portfolio is required. I’m pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program or combined degree with the SMFA at Tufts, and the admissions office needs to know that I’m prepared for success when 2/3 of my class time will be spent in studio courses.
Continue your adventure below.
You’re applying to a BFA – that’s great! That’s what I was looking for in college too. The BFA degree was perfect for me because it let me understand how my interests across literature and culture really influenced what I was doing in the studio. I was able to build my skill set while understanding the context of the world in which I was making work. In my search for art schools, I discovered that there are a few different types of curricular structures and that each student must find the one that works best for them.
What kind of art program are you applying to?
It’s a direct-entry art program; I choose my major when I apply and will spend four years focused on that:
If you know what specific major-based technical skills you want to develop over the next four years, and are ready to commit yourself to that, you’ll want to curate a portfolio that shows your understanding of, and preparation for, that specific major. For example, if you’re applying to a photography major, you might want to show a range of photographs that speak to different skills and subjects – some when you’re using studio lighting, some naturally lit, some portraiture, some environmental subjects. Showing your range of experience within the medium will help the school recognize that you understand what major you’re getting yourself into (and won’t change your mind later).
It’s a foundation year program; I’ll spend the first year taking classes in drawing, trying some 2D and 3D design, and maybe taking an elective before I declare my major for the next three years of study:
Since the foundation year curriculum is prescribed, you’ll want to show pieces that talk about your specific ability to do well in that year, regardless of what major you might choose later. Usually, schools will want to see some examples of drawing from observation (since everyone will have to take – and pass – drawing classes) and may want to see figurative work if you’ve had experience working from a live model. If you’re interested in doing work outside of drawing, you should also include some pieces that talk about your other skills and interests – they’ll all apply to at least some part of your courses in the foundation year.
It’s a fully interdisciplinary program; I’ll be able to choose any courses and access any of the studios and facilities on campus that allow me to learn the skills needed to be able to execute my ideas. I’ll collaborate with my peers and faculty across disciplines, who will challenge and support my goals as I grow and change.
Because we are an interdisciplinary program, we value students who are interested in progressing both their technical skills and conceptual interests – it is the combination of these two strengths that allows our students to create ground-breaking work that changes the world.