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How to Build and Prepare Your Portfolio

Building Your Portfolio

  • Start early and make work as often as you can. This will give you plenty of options to choose from when it comes time to assemble your portfolio.
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the principle elements of art and design (color, form, line, shape, space, texture, value, etc.).
  • Allow your ideas and personality to come through in your work.
  • Your portfolio can concentrate on a single medium or show a variety of media.
  • Work with materials you enjoy or try experimenting with new ones.
  • Explore subject matter that interests you.
  • Portfolio pieces can come from class assignments or can be self-directed work made outside of class.
  • Portfolio work does not have to be connected by a unifying theme or concept.
  • In-progress work is discouraged, but exceptional sketchbook work and/or studies may be acceptable.

Selecting Artwork

  • Be selective when choosing which pieces to include — not every piece you make may be suitable. Show us your strongest and most recent work.
  • We encourage you to include work representing a sustained interest and/or your development over time.
  • Do not include artwork that is a direct copy of another artist’s work, design, ideas, or characters.
  • Schedule a portfolio review with a MassArt admissions counselor for feedback on your work and to help you identify your strongest pieces.
  • Keep in mind that all art and design schools have different portfolio requirements, so your portfolio may not be one-size-fits-all.
Portfolio FAQs

Drawing from observation is not a requirement for MassArt, but we recommend students practice it before enrolling. During Studio Foundation Year, students must take and pass two drawing classes before beginning their major. 

Your portfolio should feature original work, and we discourage students from submitting artwork created directly from pre-existing media. We understand that work is influenced by other artists, but you should strive to create concepts that are unique to you.

No. A minimum of 15 pieces gives us an accurate understanding of your art-making practice and overall interest in engaging with creative processes.
If you are struggling to meet the minimum requirement, please contact your Admissions Counselor.

Can I submit musical recordings, theater performances, or creative writing pieces?
No. Since MassArt is a visual art school, musical recordings, theater performances, and creative writing will not be reviewed.

Documenting Your Artwork

You will submit your portfolio electronically when you apply. Photograph work that’s not already in a digital format, and ensure that your work is represented in the best way possible.

Tips and Tricks for Documenting Your Artwork:

  • Make sure images are cropped properly.
  • Remember that work typically looks best in even, white light.
  • Preview pieces on a computer to ensure files open and don’t appear blurry or too small.
  • Document your work/process periodically. That way, if a piece gets lost or damaged, you can still use it for the portfolio.
  • Avoid giving the viewer any reason to be distracted from looking at your work.

Submitting Your Portfolio

  • Portfolios must be submitted digitally through your MassArt Applicant Portal. Between one and two days after submitting your Common App, you’ll receive a link to the MassArt Applicant Portal and your login information via email.
  • Most file types are compatible. Each digital image file can be saved as a jpg/png/tiff, or gif/mp4/wav for films, videos, and animations.
  • Images of your work must be uploaded individually. Do not submit your final portfolio as a PowerPoint presentation, PDF, or link to a website.

Preparing for a Virtual Portfolio Review

While a portfolio review is not a requirement for applying, it is an opportunity to get feedback on the work you are thinking about submitting. Remember, you don’t have to include the work shared during your review in your final portfolio.

Before Your Virtual Review, Think About the Following:

  • Document your work so that you have images that you can share on your screen.
  • Some students arrange their work in a slideshow format such as PowerPoint or Google Slides.
  • This works well for a virtual review session.
  • Stay organized and keep your potential portfolio pieces together in a folder or in a place where you can easily locate them.
  • You can also share a link to your portfolio when you register for your review.
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