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Applying into Art Schools – How does one build an art portfolio?

Wish to apply into a Art School in Singapore – How to prepare a good art portfolio to enter into the school of your dreams?

Do you wish to enter into local or global art schools like NAFA, LASELLE, SOTA, RMIT or ADM in NTU ? Various local and international art schools requires art portfolios as an entry requirement. What is an art portfolio? How do I create a portfolio that can help me to get into the art school of my dreams? Is my portfolio good enough?

These are all common questions passionate art students have in mind. Fret not! We will explain to you how to put your portfolio together, as well as what it takes to make your portfolio attractive to art schools. We will also explain to you the courses you can take with us to build a good portfolio.

What is a portfolio?

First of all, what is an art portfolio? According to the University of the Arts London, an art portfolio is basically a collection of your work. It shows how your skills and ideas have developed over a period of time. It should demonstrate your creativity, personality, abilities and commitment as it helps these schools  evaluate your potential.

Your portfolio will be a vital part of your application to any art school. In fact, it will be more important than your grades when applying to art schools, because it lets these schools see your techniques – how well you can utilise various different mediums.

The portfolio should show your artistic level, innovative thinking, original ability, artistic passion, etc.

Students doing a sketch of our David plaster cast

art portfolio building class

Plaster Portrait sketching by our student

Now that you know what an art portfolio is, you must decide which school and what course you are interested in. Different art schools have different requirements and criteria for portfolios. The content of your portfolio will also differ according to the different courses offered. For example, if you are applying to a film school or animation school, your portfolio will likely be digital and consist mostly of work related to that field.

On the other hand, if you are applying to an fine art school, you may have more sketches and drawings. The format of your portfolio will also differ according to the school you wish to apply. So bear that in mind and research on what type of portfolio you would want to build for the school of your choice! It is best if you can find examples of portfolios from accepted students. This way, you know how a successful portfolio actually looks like.

Student working on a 3D Sculpture

For example, here are the portfolio requirements for the Art, Design and Media course in Nanyang Technological University Singapore (NTU):

15-20 of your best works, which should reflect your personal interests, experiences and competencies in the arts. All materials submitted should be original work created by the applicant. Work copied from other sources such as magazines, film, work of other artists, will not be considered. Portfolio pieces may represent classroom assignments or independent projects.

Submissions may include, but are not limited to, two-dimensional, three dimensional, and/or time-based work (e.g. games, audio recording, scripts, website, etc.). Preparatory work such as sketches and concept drawings may be included as components of your portfolio. 

What do Art Schools look for in a portfolio?

example of art portfolio

Still life drawing done by our student, which showcases professional level drawing and sketching skills required by art institutions

When looking at a portfolio, The first thing art schools will usually look out for is the student’s technical mastery. This is perhaps the most obvious trait of all, as it shows directly how skilled you are as an artist. Technical mastery includes being able to apply basic and advanced art principals to your work, create work that shows a high level of attention and detail, and complete projects that are free of sloppiness and mistakes.

making an art portfolio

Student making an oil painting landscape from photo reference

Art schools will also look at your versatility and variety. One reason versatility is important is because the ability to create multiple art forms is a sign of a talented artist and one who can apply their skills in multiple ways. It is also rare for an artist to stick exclusively to one art form. For example, artists who work with ceramics or in fashion design often need to be able to draw accurate designs before they begin their work.

Often, they will also look for your own unique style and personality in your works. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago states on its admissions page that the most important thing they look for in an art portfolio is “[W]ork that will give us a sense of you, your interests, and your willingness to explore, experiment, and think beyond technical art and design skills.” Your style will be the factor that differentiates you from the others, and can be a plus point in art school applications!

How can I improve on my skills to build a decent portfolio?

Of course, you can always practice by yourself to improve your artistic skills. However, we strongly recommend a more systematic approach. At Visual Arts Centre, we provide professional courses which will definitely add memorable pieces to your portfolio. Our courses include Professional Oil Painting, Professional Watercolour Painting, Professional Acrylic Painting as well as Professional Drawing and Sketching. We also have a course that focuses more on portfolio preparation on its own!

Art Portfolio

Our student making a live portrait sketching

In our courses, you will be taught painting and sketching techniques through an academy-school approach, with the guidance of our teachers, who are professionally trained artists. You will be taught observation, form and composition, colour mixing and blending, brushwork and a variety of painting and sketching techniques when you embark on your journey with us. These are all very important skills to have when building an art portfolio.

We also provide a Art Immersion 3-Medium Programme, which includes watercolour, acrylic and drawing and sketching. This course will help you to improve on your versatility as we navigate you through the different mediums. In our classes, our teachers encourage you to explore different styles and approaches, so that you can develop your own style. Through our courses, you will be able to churn up many amazing pieces of work to build your portfolio!

We offer 24 and 50 sessions of portfolio building courses, depending on your requirements and skill level. Our teachers will tailor your lessons to your own portfolio needs. Our schedules are also very flexible, and you can come whenever you are free, according to our timings.

What does Visual Arts Centre’s portfolio course includes:

  1. Basic Art drawing technique

Drawing sketching, Colouring, includes still life, landscape  

      1. Brush techniques- Acrylic painting, Still life, watercolour
      2. Learning mixed medium
  1. Creating your own unique artwork- Having a reputable art portfolio requires your own original work. You will have to use both your creativity and your drawing techniques to craft out your own original artwork. Many art schools wishes you to create an artwork that is aspiring.
    3d concept work art portfolio singapore
  2. Selecting your best piece of artwork for your art portfolio:

After finishing your artwork, we will teach you how to constantly improve it, making the necessary adjustments before submission. When selecting your best piece of artwork, make sure to remember it is not the quantity that makes up your portfolio but the quality of it.

4. Art theories and answering interview questions:

Learning foundation Art theories and a brief history in Fine Arts as well as how you can use your own artwork to express yourself.

What is the DSA Art Specialty Advancement Program?

If your child wants to enter the ideal middle school with special artistic talents, build up their artistic talents so they can be admitted successfully through the DSA programme, with a good art portfolio. DSA is also known as direct school admission,it aims to promote holistic education by giving participating schools greater flexibility in selecting students while holding to the key principles of transparency and meritocracy. For example, if your child wants to enter an art school, he or she will need a basic requirement such as the art portfolio as their submission for DSA.

Join the Visual arts centre for children’s art courses to lay a solid foundation in drawing from an early age and prepare for further studies.

The regular lesson schedule is as follows : 

Monday: 5.00PM – 7.15PM / 7.30PM – 9.45PM

Tuesday: 4.30PM – 6.45PM (Call to enquire)

Wednesday: 11.00AM – 1.15PM / 1.30PM – 3.45PM

Thursday: 11.00AM – 1.15PM / 1.30PM-3.45PM

Friday: 5PM – 7.15PM* (New Class) / 7.30PM – 9.45PM

Saturday: 10.30AM – 12.45PM / 1.00PM – 3.15PM / 3.30PM – 5.45PM

Sunday: 10.30AM – 12.45PM  / 1.00PM – 3.15PM

*New Class on Friday 5PM-7.15PM starting from 31 October 2020.

Our location

All of our courses are conducted in our cozy art studio, which will provide you with a conducive environment to learn with us. Built by the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore, Visual Arts Centre is located in the heart of the Dhoby Ghaut Arts & Heritage precinct, a main tourist destination for experiencing the arts and cultural atmosphere of Singapore. Minutes away from several major art institutions, museums and schools. We are also a stone’s throwaway from Dhoby Ghaut MRT station and many bus stops, so it is easy for you to navigate to us.

All in all, if you are looking to build a good art portfolio, it would be good if you join our courses. You will be able to create many stellar pieces which will surely impress art schools!

Have any queries? Please feel free to contact us at: 6255 0711 / 6733 2155 or WhatsApp +65 9005 6716

We can also be contacted via email at info@visualartscentre.sg.

Location: 10 Penang Road, #01-02 Dhoby Ghaut Green, Singapore 238469 (Dhoby Ghaut MRT Exit B, 30meter, left turn)

Click here to purchase Portfolio Preparation Course for Youths – 48 Sessions

Artworks