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

  • Only Studio Art (BA/BFA) and Art Education applicants are required to submit a portfolio. During the portfolio submission, you will be asked to submit 12 pieces of work, an artist statement, and answer short answer questions. Resumes are optional.
     
  • Our portfolio requirement is 12 works of art in various media. Both traditional and contemporary media are welcome, from painting and drawing to 3D sculptures and digital media. You can also include work created outside of school, such as craft projects, fashion design, murals, and whatever else you may make!
  • Make sure that 2 of your 12 pieces are made from direct observation. Working from direct observation means not using photographic references, but instead drawing from what you see in real life. Examples include still-lifes, figure drawings, self-portraits, and landscape/architectural studies. 

  • Consider including the title, dimensions, and medium for each piece. You’ll be able to provide this information when you upload your portfolio, along with a short description.

  • Consider the order and organization of your portfolio and the story it tells. Place the works you feel are your strongest at the beginning, and group pieces from a series together.

  • An artist statement is typically 1-2 paragraphs in length and details what your art is, how you make it, and the ideas behind it. This is where you have the opportunity to tell our reviewers about your work and yourself.

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

  • Take special care to photograph your work well. Check out tutorials on Youtube and elsewhere for tips on photographing your art. When documenting your work, photograph at a high resolution and use natural light for best results. Cropping your images to the border of your artwork will help remove distracting backgrounds. If you do not own a digital camera, a smart phone can be used. 

  • Give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush to put this together! Most students complete their general University of Texas at Austin application first, and then submit their portfolio later. The final deadline for portfolios is December 1.

Submit your portfolio →

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a portfolio stand out?

An excellent portfolio is a balance of three important things: your technique, your creativity, and what makes you unique. As an interdisciplinary major, we appreciate concept and experimentation just as much as technical skill, and encourage students to submit work from a range of mediums. All mediums are welcome, including, but not limited to, 2D and 3D creations, digital media, photography, performance, animation, printmaking, and craft arts.

A stand-out portfolio is also photographed well. These days, a smart phone is all you need to properly document your artwork. Look up tutorials on Youtube and other platforms for tips on photographing your work at home using simple tools.

What does working from direct observation mean?

Working from direct observation means to create a piece without using photographic or outside references. When working from direct observation, you are only using what you see in front of you to create your work. Usually observational works are made traditionally, using drawing or painting techniques, but we welcome more contemporary methods too.

Some examples of direct observation subjects would be still-lifes, figure drawings, self-portraits, and landscape/architectural studies. Arrange a still life of your favorite objects, draw the inside of your bedroom, or use a mirror to create a self portrait. Where ever your creativity takes you!

I’ve done a lot of creative things outside of my 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 a full portfolio yet?

That’s ok! Take an inventory of what you do have. Art can be made from the simplest of tools: pencil and paper, markers, free drawing apps, even the camera on your smart phone are all viable options. Do you have sketches of your ideas or plans for future projects? Do you do other creative hobbies at home like sewing or taking pictures? 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, copies of popular anime/cartoon characters, and replicas of famous artworks. A few of these are fine, but we want to see your original works of art and experience your ideas. 

Can I see an example portfolio?

We do not keep portfolio examples on hand as the portfolio process is unique to each student. We encourage students to seek out feedback on their portfolios before submitting, either amongst their art class peers or from their art teachers and mentors. Consider also attending one of our portfolio days on campus, which typically take place in the fall.

How much can I say about my work?

When submitting your portfolio, you'll have the opportunity to share an artist statement and answer short answer questions about your art experiences. The artist statement should be a well-crafted statement about 1-2 paragraphs in length that goes into detail about what art you make, how you create your work, and what ideas/concepts you are interested in. If you are stumped, imagine you are in a gallery talking to someone about your art. What would you say?

When you upload your 12 files, you will also have space to include a title, dimensions, medium, and a description of the work. A title, dimensions, and medium are all helpful information for our reviewers to know. The description is useful for sharing things that are not evident from viewing the work. (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. 

Who reviews my portfolio?

Each degree program has a committee made up of faculty that review and evaluate students for admission. They review all of your application materials holistically, weighing your artistic, academic, and personal strengths.

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.

Portfolio Reviews

UT Austin offers portfolio reviews to prospective students both one-on-one and through portfolio events hosted during the fall. Please check back soon for a full schedule of virtual events!  

To schedule a virtual portfolio review, please complete our appointment request form. For any other questions, please reach out to our undergraduate admissions coordinator.

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