The Portfolio Nervousness...

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  1. #1
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    The Portfolio Nervousness...

    So I've made stupid threads about portfolios before when I didn't really have my wits about me. I'm in a better place now to ask questions though, I think...

    So I'm looking and most portfolio guidelines specify 15-20 pieces of most recent work. However, I don't have much to put in there because I didn't draw for a year (once again, refer to older threads by me concerning my 'issue').

    So now I feel like I'm building a portfolio from the ground up but it feels like a daunting task.

    For instance, I want most to get into SVA so I'm looking at their guidelines ATM. They specify wanting things "mostly from observation.. Examples of this work can include self-portraits (using a mirror for reference), figure drawings, object studies, still lifes, interior scenes, and landscapes. "

    With allowances for 2D reference and some pieces from the imagination. However, I am strongest with graphite and ink and not so great with acrylic paint so I am scared I won't have any color work to submit. I will include one or two digital pieces too.

    How do I know what size to make my work? Does it all have to be like 18x24? Is it frowned upon to work in 11x14 or 9x12 instead of a larger size for consistency's sake? What if I have multiple pieces of varying sizes (ie study sheets on 8.5x11, graphite drawings on 9x12 and 14x17, large 18x24 still life studies...) Do I photograph and make prints to submit and just hope it all looks good in a big presentation book at the in-person interview?

    Thanks in advance, I keep putting off working on it cuz I'm scared my 9x12 drawing will be useless!

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  3. #2
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    Stop worrying!
    Put together the best work you can; this means working in ways that you are comfortable. Yes, you want some variety, fifteen versions of the same piece is going to be boring for everyone, but now is not the time to try to learn tons of new things (that's what you're going to school for, right?). Good B&W is better than mediocre color, good small is better than mediocre big. What the people evaluating portfolios are looking for is potential, not mastery. No one's sitting there with a checklist, and admitting or rejecting based on whether or not you included A, B, or C.


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    Wow, 15-20 sounds like a LOT of pieces for art school. I'd probably tend more towards 10-12 (but 10-12 GOOD pieces). As long as you have pieces you feel are a good representation of your abilities, you will be fine. Size, media and all of that don't really matter. The only part of those requirements you listed that I'd be firm with is examples drawn from life.

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    Like what Elwell said, whatever size you feel comfortable handling- go for it. I'm also going to assume you'll be photographing it or scanning it in for a digital portfolio to send off, right? Because once the Admissions people look at it, it's what's on their screen. They're not going to really care if it's 16" x 24" or 5" x 7" as long as it's good.

    The only time I really think that it's going to matter is if the size of the piece enhances the experience of the artwork- almost akin to sculpture. Beyond that, most work is based upon your skill with it as opposed to scale.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Storyboard Dave View Post
    Like what Elwell said, whatever size you feel comfortable handling- go for it. I'm also going to assume you'll be photographing it or scanning it in for a digital portfolio to send off, right? Because once the Admissions people look at it, it's what's on their screen. They're not going to really care if it's 16" x 24" or 5" x 7" as long as it's good.

    The only time I really think that it's going to matter is if the size of the piece enhances the experience of the artwork- almost akin to sculpture. Beyond that, most work is based upon your skill with it as opposed to scale.
    Yes, I will be having a digital portfolio as well as one kept in-person for interviews and portfolio days review workshops. I was thinking of photographing or scanning everything and printing it out onto nice paper, then putting it in sheet protectors in an 8.5x11 binder or presentation book for that purpose. But mostly yes it will be slides for the scholarships and digital for application submission.

    "Twisted by the dark side, young Artist has become. The boy you trained, gone he is... consumed by Deviantart."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pezzle View Post
    Yes, I will be having a digital portfolio as well as one kept in-person for interviews and portfolio days review workshops. I was thinking of photographing or scanning everything and printing it out onto nice paper, then putting it in sheet protectors in an 8.5x11 binder or presentation book for that purpose. But mostly yes it will be slides for the scholarships and digital for application submission.
    I would hold off on printing up stuff until you know you need it. Why waste the time, paper, & ink?

    But slides? Really?? Are there really places that still look at slides??

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    Quote Originally Posted by Storyboard Dave View Post
    I would hold off on printing up stuff until you know you need it. Why waste the time, paper, & ink?

    But slides? Really?? Are there really places that still look at slides??
    Apparently this one Silas H Rhodes scholarship thru SVA requires slide pages as a portfolio, which I found... odd. Alas, I can scan them in and have them printed as slides instead of wasting slide film.

    "Twisted by the dark side, young Artist has become. The boy you trained, gone he is... consumed by Deviantart."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pezzle View Post
    Apparently this one Silas H Rhodes scholarship thru SVA requires slide pages as a portfolio, which I found... odd. Alas, I can scan them in and have them printed as slides instead of wasting slide film.
    I'm utterly amazed that in this day and age of digital, PDFs, TIFFs & JPEGs that someone out there still requests slides. I couldn't even tell you how to load a slide carousel anymore!

    But hey if that's what they want so you can skim a few scholarship dollars off of them, go for it! Best of luck!

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    is there a figure drawing workshop anywhere near you? i'd be surprised if sva didn't want to see a few pages of good looking figure drawings or gestures.
    i'm not saying to throw 50 pages of newsprint at them, but if they really want 15-20 things from you, maybe spend 4 hours at a workshop for two or three nice looking poses or a page of your best gestures. Hope that helped. D:

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    Quote Originally Posted by a la bapsi View Post
    is there a figure drawing workshop anywhere near you? i'd be surprised if sva didn't want to see a few pages of good looking figure drawings or gestures.
    i'm not saying to throw 50 pages of newsprint at them, but if they really want 15-20 things from you, maybe spend 4 hours at a workshop for two or three nice looking poses or a page of your best gestures. Hope that helped. D:
    I have taken and passed (with an A woo) Life Drawing but it was well over a year ago and it appears that a purple oil pastel melted all over my old carrying portfolio... so the pieces are just no good.

    I could re-take the course, but it's 485 extra dollars I can't afford to pay the college right now. I hope there might be a workshop or a small sort of class that's less money but I don't know yet.

    I could get my boyfriend to pose, but I have nowhere to set myself up to draw him.

    "Twisted by the dark side, young Artist has become. The boy you trained, gone he is... consumed by Deviantart."
    Please, visit my SB ~ N E C R O S K E T C H I K O N ! [Updated :: November 2011]
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pezzle View Post
    I have taken and passed (with an A woo) Life Drawing but it was well over a year ago and it appears that a purple oil pastel melted all over my old carrying portfolio... so the pieces are just no good.

    I could re-take the course, but it's 485 extra dollars I can't afford to pay the college right now. I hope there might be a workshop or a small sort of class that's less money but I don't know yet.

    I could get my boyfriend to pose, but I have nowhere to set myself up to draw him.
    Where I live at least, there are people offering open figure drawing sessions. There are at least a handful people and institutions who arrange for drawing from a model once a week. You pay a small admission (like $5 or $10) and bring your own materials, but they aren't long long poses, it can be up to an hour or maybe two at the most. I'm not really sure what you are looking for, but if that would be enough I'm sure there is something similar where you live.

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    I can't seem to find anything with a fee like that. There's a meetup group that doesn't appear to be active, but that's about it. Maybe i'm googling the wrong terms..

    Either way I have an important decision to make about swapping one of my courses next semester for re-taking life drawing. It would probably benefit my portfolio most to do so...

    "Twisted by the dark side, young Artist has become. The boy you trained, gone he is... consumed by Deviantart."
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    Maybe it's a cultural thing, I'm European so it's possible that sort of thing is more widespread here. Anyway, I hope you work something out.

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    I certainly will figure something out, I am sure. I was going to take another foreign language... for my own personal benefit, but maybe I can sacrifice the friday mornings for Life Drawing. I'll just get more hours at work if I keep it open. Ah well, decisions decisions.

    Boyfriend and I are working on something too. I'm going to do some drawings of him seated, and do muscle/tendon studies of his poses so maybe I can start to see the underlying lean tissues that make up human structure even better (instead of copying a diagram verbatim, I'm going to look at several diagrams and determine how the muscles are working in certain poses).

    It's not full body figure drawing but it's better than nothing. Maybe I can rearrange the room a little and he can do some seated poses for me while I draw on a clipboard; I'm sure there's a way somewhere, and I'm going to find it. He's a free model!

    "Twisted by the dark side, young Artist has become. The boy you trained, gone he is... consumed by Deviantart."
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    I was kind of in the same boat as you. But you can do it!!
    I couldn't afford any classes like my friends could, and that included life drawing. I also had not really pursued art and so I had to really sit down and get a good portfolio going.

    Do you keep in contact with your professor from the life drawing course you took? It really helps to have a teacher review your portfolio before you submit it to SVA.

    If you are going for a personal interview, just explain to them you can't afford the life drawing classes, and compensate by having plenty of still lifes. Also, if you feel like your paintingisn't up to par, still put a couple paintings in, and explain that you are willing to learn, you just need the direction and guidance to better your painting.

    Despite how intimidating the interviewers can seem, most of them are understanding if you can't afford the extra classes and stuff you need---if you are showing that you are dedicated and that you just need the chance to excel, they'll give it to you.

    I remember going to a convention of art schools, you got accepted or rejected on the spot. I was behind this one boy with a HUGE box of oversized amazing oil paintings and an epic sketchbook. Yet he didn't get in, despite his skill, because the way he talked about his works wasn't motivating or exciting. And me with one crappy acrylic painting and a couple graphic designs i did, and my sketchbook of still lifes (and terrible drawings of my parents around the house), i got it because I made it very obvious I wanted to be there and that I was ready for more than my portfolio could convey.
    (well, that's what the interviewer told me anyway).

    I'm definitely no wise being, but just do the best with what you got, and make sure you convey the attitude of someone who's not gonna give up.

    I hope that helps if you can't find a figure study workshop--don't stress, and best of luck!

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  19. #16
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    I feel silly having said what I did previously; I just realized my painting course in the Fall is a life painting course! d'oh! So I'll have some instruction on oil painting now, plus still lifes, casts, and possibly some people (I forget if people are Painting I or Painting II but you have to have passed life drawing so...).

    I talked to my professor from life drawing. He said if I don't go to art school, I'm silly, and if I don't get in, their morons.

    "Twisted by the dark side, young Artist has become. The boy you trained, gone he is... consumed by Deviantart."
    Please, visit my SB ~ N E C R O S K E T C H I K O N ! [Updated :: November 2011]
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