student reviewing portfolio with staff

Preparing your Portfolio

Your portfolio is an opportunity to show us your technical skills, ideas, creativity, and what makes you unique.

How to Prepare Your Portfolio

  • Submit 12 of your strongest works in various media.
  • Make sure that 2 of your 12 pieces are drawings made from observation. These are not replicas of a photo but rather drawings of what you see in real life. Examples include still-lifes, figure drawing, or architectural/perspective drawing from observation.

  • Place your strongest works first.

  • Consider a title and description for each piece. You’ll be able to provide this information when you upload your portfolio.

  • Get feedback from multiple sources including your art teachers, art mentors, admissions representatives and faculty from art programs and institutions you’re considering. See Portfolio Reviews below.

  • Make sure the photos of your pieces are high-resolution, sharp and are accurate representations of your work. Avoid submitting images that are dark, blurry, or out-of-focus.

  • Ask your art instructors for help in documenting your work if needed.

  • Give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush to put this together.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a portfolio outstanding?

An excellent portfolio is a balance of three important things: your technique/technical ability, your creativity, and what makes you unique. Include whatever you believe to be your strongest work in any or many media. This could include, but is not limited to, 2D or 3D works, digital works, time-based pieces, performance art, etc. But if you have only been able to study a limited number of media, put together a range of works from those for submission. We just want to see what you think is your strongest artwork.

Strong portfolios also order your best works first. When documenting your work, make sure the pieces are well lit, your photos or scans are high-resolution to show detail and clarity, and the digital images are cropped exactly to the edge of the canvas/paper.

What’s an observational drawing?

An observational drawing is not made from a grid or photograph. It’s a drawing done from life. Some examples include still-life drawings, gesture studies, and architectural or perspective drawings.

I’ve done a lot of creative things outside of my studio art classes. Can I include those works in my portfolio?

Yes! We are interested in getting to know you and seeing a wide variety of hands-on projects. Have you worked in a woodshop or welded? Are you interested in building virtual worlds? Have you designed a set or costume for a performance? We’re interested in all varieties of work, from clay modeling and crafts, to landscaping and jewelry design.

What if I have great ideas, but I don’t have the money or resources to bring them to life?

That’s ok! Past applicants have shared their ideas as sketches or plans for future projects. We are excited about these ideas too!

Are there any things I should consider leaving out of my portfolio?

Avoid a portfolio full of celebrity portraits or copies of popular anime/cartoon characters. A few of these are fine, but we want to see your original works of art and experience your ideas. School projects are fine as well.

Can I see an example portfolio?

No, because this process should be unique to your background and ideas. There’s no right or wrong way to create a portfolio.

How much can I say about my work?

For portfolio submissions, we utilize an online platform called SlideRoom. When you begin uploading your work, you will see that there are text boxes available to provide a description for each piece. This is an opportunity to provide context for your work! Please take advantage of this space and tell us about each piece that you are submitting. Think of it as a chance to tell us something that might not be evidently clear about the piece from just looking at it. (What are the dimensions? What materials did you use? Was this the first time you used this medium? Is this part of a series or an assignment?) If the content is not clear, tell us what this piece is about. You also want to be economical with your words; tell us the most important details in as few words as you can.

Who reviews my portfolio?

Each degree program will have an admissions committee made up of faculty specific to that program. This committee will review portfolios, essays, and application materials.

How important is the portfolio in the application process?

The portfolio is going to be one of the most important components of your application. Please take your time in submitting a thoughtful, well-prepared portfolio.

I’m a photographer. Can I submit only photographs in my portfolio?

We do not have a photography program, but rather offer photography as an area of study. In our Studio Art program, students are able to select a track that combines three different disciplines, so students are able to focus on various facets of the arts as opposed to having one single concentration. This is an excellent program for artists who would like to develop photography work and a photography practice, but is not well suited for students seeking a photography degree exclusively. You want your portfolio to demonstrate works in multiple media and limit the number of photography pieces that you submit.

Portfolio Reviews: Fall 2019 Events

Want feedback on your portfolio before submitting it? Attend a Portfolio Review.

El Paso ISD Art College Fair

September 24, 2019
El Paso, TX  — El Paso ISD Art College Fair
El Paso ISD Artspace + Gallery | 320 S Campbell Street
09:00am - 03:30pm

National Portfolio Days

National Portfolio Days are large-scale events held in cities across the U.S. that offer students a chance to review their portfolio with representatives from a variety of art programs and institutions from all over the country.

Faculty and staff from The University of Texas at Austin will attend the following events this year:

September 28, 2019
Austin, Texas — National Portfolio Day
JW Marriott Austin | 110 East 2nd Street
Note: this event is not on-campus at the University of Texas at Austin
(no registration required)

September 29, 2019
Dallas, Texas — National Portfolio Day
Hilton Anatole | 2201 North Stemmons Freeway
(no registration required)

Valley Portfolio Day

The University of Texas at Austin, along with other Texas colleges and universities, visits Brownsville, Texas each year to meet with prospective art students from south Texas. During this portfolio day, faculty and staff provide feedback on admission portfolios and other information about the application process. This is a free event that is open to the public.

October 12, 2019
Brownsville, TX — Valley Portfolio Day
Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts | 660 E Ringgold Street
10:00am – 2:00pm
(no registration required)

On-Campus Portfolio Day + Admissions Q&A

Open to high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, as well as to prospective external transfer students, the Department of Art and Art History faculty and staff will provide prospective undergraduates feedback on the work they’re considering submitting in their admission portfolio. These events are held on-campus in the Art Building and also provide students and parents an opportunity to tour the department and galleries, learn about our Summer ST.ART pre-college studio program, pose questions about the admissions process, and interact directly with faculty, current students, and staff.

October 27, 2019  
Austin, Texas — On-Campus Portfolio Day
Art Building | The University of Texas at Austin | 2301 San Jacinto Blvd 
11:30am - 4:00pm 
Register Here

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