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A portfolio is the ticket into Art school. But how can applicants make theirs stand out?

The portfolio is a vital part of an application to any creative course. Whether a student considers a foundation course, undergraduate degree, or a certificate course, a portfolio showcasing their work, inspiration, and potential is a crucial element of the application process.

Students at RIC are given a great deal of individual help and support with portfolio preparation, ensuring students are targeting the work they are putting together for the art schools they are applying too.

It is important to understand the requirements for each individual application, but generally, a great portfolio will include and demonstrate the following:

  • − Sufficient examples of drawing from primary sources
  • − Inventive use of materials
  • − Process sketches – they can be as important as the finished piece
  • − Intellectual ambition
  • − Engagement with culture, like going to exhibitions, reading, and awareness of current events
  • − Personal, sincere subject matter
  • − Evidence of motivation, determination, and which industry is considered
Georgia Burt Fine Art A2 3
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  • Artwork can often speak for itself, but when a student is asked to present their portfolio, they should consider the following:
  • − It is not necessary to mount everything, but some prints and photographs may benefit from mounting
  • − Include sketchbooks and unfinished work, if it is exciting. Some schools want to see development work as well
  • − Have something to say about each piece. This includes source material, methods considered and applied, and media used
  • − Gather similar pieces (e.g. life drawings) together to create a logical order

    Advice on submission of digital portfolios

    Most importantly, students should research and follow instructions given by each institution they want to apply to carefully. Submitting the same portfolio for each application may not be the right approach, as schools and universities will have specific requirements.


RIC students are successful at gaining places at some of the top UK art schools including the different UAL colleges, UCL's The Slade, Kingston, Norwich, Falmouth, Edinburgh and Brighton. For more details of how to put together a portfolio for UAL click here.

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