Student Goals:

Students will prepare their Artist portfolio for evaluation


Student Objectives:

By June, the Visual Communications students, along with lectures, guided practices, multiple projects and various technique examples, the students will be able to develop a portfolio of their work that demonstrates their ability and for entrance into their secondary education choice upon completion of the program.


Program Of Study Requirements:

903 - Inventory personal career interests & goals.

904 - Research employment opportunities.

905 - Explore postsecondary institutions & opportunities.

909 - Complete a job or college application.

914 - Research current industry practices.


Industry Standards:

009005   13.1.11  E.  Justify the selection of a career.

009006   13.1.11  F.  Analyze the relationship between career choices and career preparation opportunities.

009007   13.1.11  G.  The implementation of the individualized career plan through the ongoing development of the career portfolio.

009014  13.2.11 D. Analyze, revise, and apply an individualized career portfolio to a chosen career path.

009026  13.3.11 F. Evaluate strategies for career retention and advancement in response to the changing global workplace.


This lesson deals with the all-important process of presenting your creative portfolio. Having spent countless hours creating and preparing your body of work, you want to make sure you spend time preparing for your review. This section will discuss the criteria for assembling your portfolio that includes:


  • Selecting pieces

  • Creating a diverse collection of work

  • Size requirements

  • Posture and body language

  • Proper attire

  • Understanding questions asked during the review

  • Questions to ask during the review

  • Following up after the review


At the end of this section you will have a completed portfolio ready to present to the schools and colleges of your choosing along with the confidence to present it as a confident artist ready to take the next step in their education.



What school do you want to go to? Do you want a scholarship? Does your work represent "you" as a person? Is it diverse with content and medium choices? These are the questions you need to ask yourself when preparing for a portfolio review. The first thing you need to do is figure out where to go and what the requirements of the school are. Some schools require additional pieces to be made in order to apply or scholarships. Then once you have your school picked, it's time to put your portfolio together of your best work. Then, you need to get your mental game together... You're also selling yourself and not just your portfolio.



your portfolio to a number of pieces that allows you to present your body of work in an efficient, thorough manner. A portfolio in the range of 10-15 pieces is not so overwhelming in scale to hinder discussions; if the project or series is substantially larger, you can, of course bring more to show during the review session, but understand that to engage in a meaningful dialogue, less may be “more.” If you have two bodies (or more) of work, perhaps one that is completed, one or more on-going: consider bringing small selections of each, research the likely tastes and interests of the Reviewers, and consider asking which they’d prefer to see. Understand, however, it may be impossible, time-wise, to discuss all work with each reviewer.


as are “first impressions.” I suggest you print your images similarly on the same size/paper. Protect the work, but not to such an extent that it takes too much of your 20-minute session to wrap/unwrap each print. The portfolios we provide you with along with printing everything from our printers will do just fine.



will maximize your time to talk with the reviewer, so select a box, book or portfolio that will allow you to show the pieces relatively quickly and be seen without harm to the objects. It is not necessary to mat your work for presentation - you can fit more pieces in your box, or travel lighter; your pieces will be frequently shown and may reflect this.



If possible, show work to reviewers in the size that you prefer for final presentation size. Our class sizes are 8.5x11 and 11x17 from the printers and similar sizes for traditional artwork. You can work bigger, but have a way to transport your work safely. It is impressive (and encouraged) to work on larger pieces and when moving on with your education, it is not uncommon to work in 18x24 and larger on a regular basis.


Consider producing a business card that features an image for easier recollection; I always appreciate it when the image matches one the Artist shared with me at the event; this aids the Reviewers in recalling your work and your presentation to them. Present yourself in a professional manner by having current information on the card. Design/produce a simple promotional piece that will serve to remind the Reviewers of your work as well as providing them your contact information.   I appreciate having something in print (or CD-ROM) featuring reproduction of several images from your body of work (all Reviewers will meet with many Artists during this event; it never hurts to remind them visually of your work). Make sure it is small enough for Reviewers to file in a traditional (8-1/2 x 11) file folder, for ease in referencing your work. Be mindful of the possibility that materials can become separated; put your name and contact information on EACH individual page.


your presentation - keep it short and simple! Be mindful of the 20-minute limit with your Reviewer(s); you will want to save time within those 20 minutes to receive feedback from them.   DO plan on speaking on your work, leave time for dialogue with the Reviewer(s), too.



Go to the event host’s website one last time and cut/paste your own copy of all the reviewer’s bios and keep it at your fingertips, to refresh your memory as needed on Reviewers you will present work to, or meet socially during the weekend. In addition to making notes directly on these individual pages, consider bringing a tape deck to record your session with Reviewers (always wise to ask their permission before hitting “record” button).



WHEN ATTENDING THE PORTFOLIO REVIEW EVENT: BE ON TIME! If late for your scheduled review appointment, the time will not be made up.



Be up front about your wishes – is this a “work in progress” in which case you are seeking feedback? Are you seeking advice regarding technique? Editing? Presentation? Or, Are you asking for advice? Let the Reviewer know at the outset what you hope to gain from this experience.



Make sure that your presentation takes LESS than the 20-minute appointment so that you have time to gain feedback/advice from the reviewer.


for your reference following each session on the alphabetical sheets you prepared - who you saw, their comments on the work and/or on specific images, printing, presentation, general advice and other remarks you will want to review. Carry your binder with you at all times for this purpose, and add to it comments about Reviewers and their upcoming projects as you learn these things from other photographers during the event.   Another idea is to make yourself a list of reminders or “prompts” to print below the Reviewer Bios – reminder notes TO YOURSELF to ask for their business cards, ask if they’d like to be added to your mailing list and what format they would prefer materials to arrive in (CD/Website, print, slides?).  


Don’t assume that a reviewer would like to keep more than a simple business or promotional card. At the end of your session, ask if they would like to retain additional materials for their future reference and if so, indicate whether you can provide these on site, or offer the courtesy to ship things to their office following the event (at your expense). Ask too if they would like to be kept informed of your work as it evolves, and if so, in what format – print, CD-Rom, notices of additions to your website, etc. Be sure to ask Reviewers for their business card if you intend to add them to your mailing list. Keep your business and/or promotional cards handy and give them out. Ask for cards from other professionals at the event to add to (or begin) your promotional mailing list. Ask for cards from fellow photographers, too, and keep in touch with your community. Be courteous to fellow photographers by respecting the 20-minute time slot and pack up your materials before the next person’s session with your Reviewer is set to begin.


Following up with your new contacts is essential if you want to maximize your potential for tangible returns from this experience. You will initiate relationships – now cultivate them. Write each Reviewer and thank them for their insights towards your work, advice, and their time.   Send follow-up packets within a few weeks to those who requested additional materials at your expense (never send C.O.D. unless specifically told to do so). If a Reviewer encouraged you to provide more material for their files, such as an artists' resume an overview of a current or past project, an exhibition proposal, photocopies/laser prints of images, sets of slides, CD-Rom or other such promotional materials. 


I hope that this advice will be helpful to you, and that your career will benefit from your efforts before, during and after attending the portfolio review event. - © 2012 - Mary Virginia Swanson


At the completion of this unit, you will participate in a portfolio review with your instructor. In order to prepare for this review you will have to:

  • Collect and sort your pieces

  • Photograph your Fine Art pieces and correct them using Adobe Photoshop

  • Print all pieces

  • Place them in your portfolio according to guidelines

  • Have your portfolio ready the day of your scheduled review time


Your portfolio and professionalism during the review will be graded with the RUBRIC provided below.


At the completion of your review, you are required to take home a form that your parent/guardians to complete asking them to review your portfolio with them and sign off on it. DOWNLOAD DOCUMENT HERE



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Students must be prepared to make a major commitment. It is our assumption that students entering the program are here to lay a foundation for a career in a design field and will be required to meet rigorous and stringent standards. Strong communication skills, both verbal and written, are required as is the ability to read and analyze. Serious students will find that the program will provide them with an excellent opportunity to develop the skills necessary to succeed in the job market or advance in education. _Most of the students graduating from the program _continue their education.


Steve Bross

Commercial Art Instructor



Central Montco Technical High School

821 Plymouth Road

Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462



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