8 Tips to Help You Finish Your Art Portfolio

By: Hagar Ibrahim

If you’re a prospective art student, you have a requirement of creating 10-14 pieces of art and forming an art portfolio that reflects who you are as an artist, your interests and your dominant style.

Having gone through the hassle of creating one, I formed a list of tips that might save your when it comes to art school applications!


1. Know your preferred artistic style

A lot of people like art in general but feel like they’re failing as artists. One tip to excel in what you love to do is try multiple styles of drawing and painting in your freshman year of high school.

2. Know your preferred medium

There are different kinds of art supplies and you’ll have to try a lot of them in order to know which kinds you prefer the most. Pro tip: the cheaper the materials are, the worse the quality will be. Also, if you buy the more expensive art supplies, they will last longer.

3. Know your requirements

Each university is different! Universities in Egypt are drastically different than those abroad. Some universities require a portfolio, some don’t. Some require you to study sciences such as physics and take math courses such as AP calculus, and some don’t even check your transcript. For example, AUC doesn’t require a portfolio for you to get into the university but it requires you to do one while declaring the major. GUC requires you create a portfolio of 10-15 art pieces  and requires you take 3 aptitude tests (English,Applied Arts entrance, IQ), you’ll also have to do an interview. MSA requires you take physics and calculus if you’re in an American school.

4. Find inspiration online

There is no shame in looking for inspiration online, in magazines or even at museums. Similar to writer’s block, there is artist’s block. When you just stare at the canvas/sketch paper and you have your pencil/brush in your hand and you just keep staring, for minutes, maybe hours! When you face this situation you just open pinterest search the medium you’re using and the word “drawing”/ “painting” afterwards. You’ll find tons of inspiration. Try to avoid mainstream paintings such as the silhouette of two people kissing with drips of melted rainbow crayons dripping as if it’s rain. Not shaming people who like this picture, but you can always add your unique twist to your art.

5. Pre-practice

One thing I’d tell my old self is: START PRACTICING FROM YOUR FRESHMAN AND SOPHOMORE YEARS OF HIGHSCHOOL. The more you practice, the easier it will be for you to get done with the portfolio. The more you practice, the less time an art piece will take you. The more you practice, the closer you’ll get to knowing your personal style. Pro tip: know your signature and perfect it before you put it on your drawings!

6. Personalize your portfolio

If you’re a reader and an art lover, you can always get inspiration from your books. This example applies to a lot of interesting fields. Personally, I am interested in politics, economics, and history. Most of my drawings are political, mocking economic systems or economic decisions and glorifying/dissing historic events/characters. This is beneficial if the school you’re applying to requires an interview for entry, you’ll have more background information on your art and you’ll impress the interviewees.

7. Plan ahead

The thought of creating ten to 15 art pieces might sound like an easy idea but in reality, it is not at all! If you’re getting your inspiration online, then create a folder on your computer and download whichever picture you find appealing and then choose the ones you like. This way, you’ll never get stuck.

8. Get help

There is no shame in needing help, you can hire a private tutor, go to your school’s art department, or even get a friend to help you. Feel free to explore your options.

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