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For many years I studied writing and got to a near publishable level thanks to my attendence of several workshops under the likes of Orson Scott Card and David Wolverton. However, despite my writing being technically quite good, I didn't 'feel' it.
I got what fantasy writers often call 'world builders disease', where you endlessly create worlds (Everything from magic systems, to landscapes, cultures, religions, races, monsters, and history). I love ideas, and I love generating them. Art has always been something I've enjoyed doing, so a year ago I buckled down and started studying the fundamentals for 40-60 hours a week. Now, having achieved the ability to do quite well (at least traditionally), I've decided to start building a portfolio to submit to an entertainment design program. The ultimate goal is the FZD school of design, but I have several others in mind as well.
I've been thinking, having so many worlds and pieces of stories written within them, that I might go through them and try to visually create the world as I'd imagined them in my stories.
My question is thus: Do you think creating this world visually (Maps, cities and landscapes, notable people, perhaps even historic events) might serve as a good portfolio for a design school?
It depends on the program. If you are applying for FZD or Art Center Entertainment Design for example, that type of portfolio is pretty much ideal. Google around for some accepted portfolios for where you want to go, and for many of the concept design programs a lot of the portfolios are like this. Art Center ports that are often accepted can be 40 pages long about a few locations/cities/worlds.
Also, something to note about FZD, it seems that the portfolio qualifications for their 1 year diploma are not that strict compared to art center.
However, for a more traditional illustration program, I think that type of portfolio might not be exactly what they are looking for, instead variety and artistic style are valued a bit more. But yeah if you find some accepted portfolios for wherever you want to go you can kinda figure out what kinda stuff they want.