Skip navigation

Portfolio Guides

We are interested in you as an artist and how we can support your learning and ambitions for the future. At Northumbria we review all our applicants portfolio's.

We believe that being accepted onto a BA (Hons) Fine Art course at art school is an exciting opportunity to develop your skills and knowledge at an important stage of your life. Our 3-year intensive programme embeds you into a dynamic studio community and culture where you will work with a number of highly experienced artist academics and technicians in a stimulating and supportive environment. We aim to help you develop an exciting and meaningful art practice and enable you to develop your full potential in order to operate at a high level in the professional arts and cultural sectors.

Your portfolio is one of the most exciting and important personal files that you will ever produce. It is like a giant story-board folder that visually tells us about who you are.

We recognise that it can be a daunting prospect preparing your portfolio for submission and thinking about what best to include; what to exclude; and what format it should take. So here are a few answers to some frequently asked questions.

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of your artwork that demonstrates your skills and creative ideas. It should reveal a range of interests in visual terms. But remember the portfolio may only be part of the submission. We always prefer to see original work, even if it is a large painting or sculpture or photographs and videos on a DVD

What should I put in my portfolio?

We want to see how you visually articulate your ideas. We really respond to students who are experimental and take risks with their medium and materials. It is really useful to see a range of responses to a subject and how your ideas evolve through drawings, sketchbooks and research. Your portfolio can include resolved or ‘finished’ pieces, however we are also interested in the process and how you made the work!

Should I include drawings and sketchbooks?

The process of drawing and the use of sketchbooks can tell us a lot about your curiosity and imagination, and how you see and respond to the things around you. We can see in a sketchbook where an idea began and how it developed. Drawing is also an intellectual engagement with a subject that excites you. We are keen to see how you communicate this to someone else. Be selective about what you include. For instance we may not learn much about you if all your drawings are of the same subject, in the same medium on the same paper etc. Also it is important to write about the ideas your work is concerned with –we look at how you annotate your visual ideas. You may also include notebooks as well.

What format should the portfolio take?

First impressions are always important so make sure that we see a strong representation of your work at the start. It is also good to show your best and most recent examples and not necessarily work from the past. If you are studying  or have studied Foundation diploma in Art and Design and have been on a rotational course it may be best to edit the portfolio carefully. As you are applying for a Fine Art course, make sure that the Fine Art work is highlighted at the beginning!  Avoid showing us much older work that may not link in to where you are now. We are interested in the present and the future.

Your portfolio should be submitted as a 16 page, A4 PDF document.

It should contain:

• 1 cover page with your name and your current course of education

• 5 images of your drawing from sketchbooks, life drawing etc.

• 5 images of contextual / rough draft / development work related to a specific project

• 5 images of finished work from a project or projects of your choice

Each image should be captioned with information that includes the title of the project/coursework it is from, date, medium/material and size e.g. Foundation life-drawing class, March 2018,  charcoal on paper, 60cm x 80cm.

Please take care to ensure that your photographs are well lit, in focus and clearly represent your work to the best of your ability. Your portfolio will be viewed on a screen so your images do not need to be any larger than 150dpi resolution. Your portfolio should not exceed 15mb in size.

How can I show large sculpture or 3D installation work?

Take some time to make a number of photographs of the work – or video it. Make sure to include some close-ups. Get a photograph of you or someone else standing beside the work. This gives us a good idea of the scale!

[Gallery - Instagram Gallery]

a person sitting at a table using a laptop
NU World Virtual Tours

Virtual Tour

Get an insight into life at Northumbria at the click of a button! Come and explore our videos and 360 panoramas to immerse yourself in our campuses and get a feel for what it is like studying here using our interactive virtual tour.

a sign in front of a crowd

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Back to top