Portfolio Guidelines

Follow these guidelines as part of your portfolio submission.

Documents to Include Inside Your Portfolio

Please carefully review the information on the Portfolio Application page.

Portfolio: Technical Requirements

  • You may submit original work or high quality printed photographs or digital images on a disc or USB drive. You may submit also submit a combination of both originals and digital images.
  • Number of works: 12 to 15 pieces of your art and/or design work.

For Original Work

  • Presentation: Clean and orderly presentation; consider mounting smaller pieces on light-weight cardstock so the committee can see them without visual interference from other pieces.
  • Size: The portfolio container should be sturdy and fold open for easier viewing (maximum dimensions 75 x 100 cm or 30 x 40 inches).
  • Weight: The total weight of the portfolio, including your work, should not exceed 4.5 kg or 10 lbs.
  • Do not submit: glass, plexiglass, stretched canvas, rolled drawings or canvas, framed works, fragile items or more than one work on masonite board in your portfolio.
  • For large scale or 3-dimensional work: Must be shown as colour prints submitted in plastic photo pages in an album or as digital images submitted on a CD, DVD, or USB (see below).

For Printed Images

  • Some applicants create and bind a presentation book of some kind.
  • Some applicants submit high quality printed photos inside a presentation folder. 
  • Both are fine as long as the images are good quality and you include enough information so that we know what we are looking at.

For Digital Files

  • Submit: a disc or flash drive clearly marked with your name
  • Compatibility: must be Mac-compatible
  • Presentation: organize work in ONE folder (not folders nested inside other folders). Image files should be labeled as follows: 1 Student's Last Name, 2 Student's Last Name, etc. (e.g. 1 Smith, 2 Smith, etc)
  • Image list: Your file names should correspond to a numbered image list that includes the following information:
    1. Title, year, dimensions, materials used
    2. Title, year, dimensions, materials used
  • Digital file details: files should be .jpg or .pdf with a maximum of ~1024 x 768 pixels, 500 K (0.5 MB) in size, in RGB colour mode and should not be compressed (Zip, Stuffit, etc.). Video files must be mac-compatible.
  • Reminders: do not submit images by e-mail, hyperlinks to internet sites with your images or material that requires software, plug-ins, extensions or other executables to be downloaded or installed and do not submit any other components of your application electronically.

Selection of Work

Select work for your portfolio that represents your own interests, strengths and development. The assessment process is very competitive and the quality of work is the main deciding factor. Choose examples that show the diversity of your abilities.

  • Transfer students are welcome to submit a portfolio that reflects your areas of interest and is more focused on either Visual Art (including any combination of Installation, Digital Media, Time-based work, Painting, Drawing, Printmaking and Sculpture) or Design (Visual Communication Design and/or Industrial Design).
  • For students applying to the first year of the program, the following elements are important to include:

Drawing from observation should be included. Copying photographs or other artist’s works does not demonstrate your ability to make design decisions concerning the placement of forms on the page.

Your handling of the fundamental problems of drawing should be evident in your explorations of basic drawing principles such as perspective, shape, texture, composition, and through the use of a wide range of line and tonal variation. Subjects used can include still-life, self-portrait, figure drawing, landscape and architecture (interior and exterior). If possible, a range of media should be used (graphite, ink, charcoal, conté). Pages from sketchbooks may be used sparingly; several pages attached together will count as one piece.

Colour is an important element that can be demonstrated through a variety of media: coloured pencils, pastels, watercolours, acrylics, marker pens, collage. These can be used for some of the drawings, designs or paintings.

Composition, or your sense of arranging shapes or forms on a page, should be demonstrated as well as your ability to relate elements together. For even the simplest of drawings on a page, you should consider the placement of the subject on the page and the amount of negative space.

Three-dimensional works (sculptures, prototypes, etc.) should only be included in photograph or digital image form. Do not feel you must include them if you have not done this type of work before.

Photographs can form a part of your portfolio, but as you are not applying to a technical photography program, we want to see more of what you can do and what interests you. 

Please do not submit a portfolio entirely composed of cartoon, comic book or fantasy style imagery as these borrow heavily from pre-existing visual conventions and aren't the best way to tell us about you as a visual decision-maker. If these types of work are important to you, consider including one or two examples, but only if they are your original work.

Further information: How to Prepare a Portfolio from Curious Arts