Portfolio Guidelines

Follow these guidelines as part of your portfolio submission.  Please note that we do not have a specified list of things to include in your portfolio; we want to see the best reflection of your skills and interests. We do not provide sample portfolios. Please see below for more specific information.

NEW Online Portfolio Submission

Beginning in October 2019, BFA and BDes applicants can use the Launchpad application system to submit your portfolios and statement of intent online!  You can upload these items any time after you've submitted your application and paid your application fee, right up until May 1st.  Please submit 12 - 15 pieces that show your interests, strengths and versatility.  For more information on what to submit, please scroll down to "Selection of Work".  In addition to your portfolio, submit a statement of intent explaining your interest in our program. Recommended length: half page to a page.


OLD Portfolio Submission system and requirements (if you choose not to upload your images online)

Because this is the first year we are using the online submission system, we are also offering applicants the option to use the old system.  The following section only applies to you if choose to submit your work in person or by mail, instead of using the new online system. If you want to do this, you will still need to "satisfy" the portfolio and statement of intent items in the online system, so just upload a document that says "submitting in person" or "submitting by mail"

  • 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 competitive and the quality of work is the main deciding factor. Choose examples that show the diversity of your abilities.

Transfer students from another post-secondary institution 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, you can include a variety of whatever you think are your strongest works from the following areas:

  • Some drawing from observation should ideally 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, installations, 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. You are welcome to submit more than one photograph of a 3D work in order to show all sides or show details; that will still count as one "piece".
  • 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. 
  • Video works, or video documentation of performance art works are most welcome. Longer works should ideally be edited down to 3 minute files.
  • 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 a few examples, but only if they are your original work.
  • Computer-aided design and renderings are welcome as long as they are own work.
  • Collaborative work can be submitted as long you include clear notes about what work is yours and what was done by your team members.
  • If you wish to apply to the Bachelor of Design program but have only works that are traditional art works, you can still apply.  Observational drawing, 1-point, 2-point and 3-point perspective drawings, architectural drawings, line drawings, etc. are all excellent choices for inclusion in your portfolio.

Further information: How to Prepare a Portfolio from Curious Arts