If you’re a high school student and you’re thinking about applying to art school, chances are you’re working on a portfolio of amazing artwork that will help you get into the college of your dreams. If you’re not yet, don’t worry! Tips to get started are here. While you work on creating and curating a collection of art that best represents your skills and passion to an admissions committee, you should know that there is help along the way. In fact, you’ve probably already received some guidance from your art teacher, college counselor, or a pre-college program. You might have attended an information session and heard about the role of a portfolio in the SMFA admissions process. You may have even read up on what SMFA is looking for in a portfolio on our blog. But even with guidance, you could still have some questions about putting together a portfolio. It can feel like a complex process; how do you know you’re getting it all right? Enter: The Portfolio Review.
What is a portfolio review?
First of all, a portfolio review is not a final assessment of your work, and it does not result in a decision on your admission to SMFA at Tufts. It is hopefully the beginning of a conversation between you and an SMFA Admissions Counselor – one that will provide a new perspective on your artwork, help you think about new projects to tackle, address all of your questions about putting together a portfolio, and help you get to know SMFA. And we want to get to know you, too! We love chatting about the ideas, research, and passion behind the body of work that you are creating. Think of a portfolio review as a starting point; hopefully, you’ll leave feeling informed and inspired to continue working on a portfolio that embodies your creative practice, whatever that may look like. And you’ll leave with an SMFA Admissions Counselor in your corner, too, to support you throughout the college admissions process.
What happens during a portfolio review?
To tell you the truth, every portfolio review is a little bit different. Students often guide the conversation by telling us about their academic and artistic interests and their questions and concerns about the college search process. There are some things, though, that generally happen in every portfolio review. Most portfolio reviews last about 45 minutes to an hour and are one-on-one meetings with an admissions counselor. You’ll have brought some work for us to look at (see below for tips), we’ll look at it, and we’ll talk about big themes we see there. We’ll get to know you and your artistic journey, what resources or art classes you’ve had access to, and where you’re excited to take your practice in the future. We’ll answer any questions you have, like: what are the guidelines for an SMFA portfolio, and are they different from other art schools you're looking at? Which pieces should you include in your final portfolio? Do you need to give them titles or write an artist statement for each artwork? There will be time for all those questions and more. We’ll likely try to talk to you about cats, memes, or one of our other interests. You’ll probably think we’re a little offbeat, and that will give you a good preview of the SMFA community.
How should you prepare for a portfolio review?
Take pictures of your artwork. They can be shot on your phone or a camera, but make sure they show the artwork clearly. Both photos and time-based work—like film and video projects, animation, or durational artwork—are great! These works do not have to be what’s going to end up in your final portfolio, so feel free to show us your latest experiment or the piece you haven't quite figured out how to execute yet. You’ll want to make sure that your files are all collected in one place, like a flash drive or folder on your computer, Google drive folder, or a website that you’ve made. If your portfolio review is virtual, we’ll remind you to send those files over 48 hours before your review. If it’s in-person, you can bring both digital files and/or physical artwork for us to check out.
Another great way to prepare for your portfolio review is to do a little digging on the school itself – take a tour or join an information session, check out the website or social media accounts. Regardless of which school is giving you a portfolio review, having a sense of their philosophy and program can really help to frame the conversation you’re going to have, generate some questions you can ask your admissions counselor, and help you feel prepared.
What happens after a portfolio review?
We stay in touch! Email or call your admissions counselor any time with questions or exciting updates about your newest art adventures. We love to hear from you!
Sounds great! How do I sign up for a portfolio review?
So glad you asked. Sign up here.