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.

  • 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.

Submit your portfolio →

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

UT Austin offers portfolio reviews to prospective students during multiple events each fall. Please check back soon for a full schedule of virtual events!  

If you have immediate questions, please reach out to our Admissions Team.

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