How to Prepare an Art Portfolio

Admission to the Department of Art at Western Illinois University is open; therefore, a portfolio is not required for admission. However, if you are interested in applying for scholarships, you will need to submit a portfolio. Advice about preparing a portfolio is offered below.

What kind of work should you submit?

Observational work:
It is very important to show that you have the ability to work from observing the world around you. This kind of work is usually central to a good portfolio.
• Include 3–5 examples of drawings completed from direct observation. This means working directly from real life and the world around you.
• Observational work can be drawing, painting or collage done from looking at a still life, figure model/portrait, or landscape. The work should be produced as you see it in person and not reproduced from a photograph or from the artist’s imagination (i.e. from magazines, comics, or animation.) Work must not be copied from other artists’ work or directly from photographs.

Personal work:
• Photograph several views of 3-dimensional/sculptural works.
• Include work that you create, usually in a medium and style that demonstrate your strengths.
How many samples of my work should I submit?
Submit a selection of 10–15 examples of your most recent and best work. Work can be in any media or dimension. Choose work from class assignments or work created independently.

Presentation of your portfolio is very important. Demonstrate that you devote time and energy to your artwork by including images of finished, high quality pieces. You may not have access to a professional photographer; therefore, the simplest way to get decent general images of your work is to take pictures outside in indirect sunlight. Make your work as neat and professional looking as possible. When photographing your work, make sure to:
• Frame your work carefully in a way to eliminate much of the background.
• Shoot focused and clear images.
• Use a tripod to stabilize your camera if you have one.
• Show work that puts your strengths forward.
• Include your most recent work.
• Do not include torn or poorly cared for work.
• Include a description sheet that includes your name, date, title, and dimensions of each work.
Finally, whenever possible we recommend that you have your portfolio evaluated by your art teacher, or school’s guidance counselor. In general, have someone review your portfolio for presentation quality.

Submitting Your Portfolio
If you are able to visit Western, bring your actual portfolio, or a CD version of your portfolio. We will gladly review your work. Do not wait until the last minute, and give yourself plenty of time to complete the best portfolio possible. The most important detail of preparing your portfolio for college admissions is to remember to enjoy the process of presenting your best work as an artist.

REMEMBER: CD Portfolios are mailed to us can only be returned if you include a self addressed, stamped envelope with appropriate postage.