Tips for Developing Your Portfolio | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Tips for Developing Your Portfolio

Mother Nature inspired self portrait ; Beatrice Ebijimi
Beatrice Ebijimi

Your portfolio of work is the single most important component of your application to MCAD.* This collection of your best work showcases who you are as an artist or designer. In order to help you put together your best portfolio, we present the following tips for creating, curating, documenting, and reviewing your portfolio.

Can’t wait to see your work!

Step 1: Create

The first step in the portfolio process is to create the works that will be in it. You may already have a lot of work, but you may also need to create new works to meet MCAD’s portfolio requirements.

Step 2: Curate

After you have created several works, it is likely that you will have more than enough to include in your portfolio. The tough part is deciding what to include and what to leave out.

  • Be sure to carefully read the application checklist and include everything listed.
  • Only include original works (not reproductions of other artists’ works).
  • Strive for variety in both content and medium.

Step 3: Document

Once you have selected the pieces to include in your portfolio, be sure to document them well.

  • Scan or photograph your works; if the work is 3D, photograph it from multiple angles. Ask your library or school to borrow equipment if needed. 
  • Ensure your work is well-lit—a camera flash should not be necessary. Photographing outside or in a space with plenty of natural light is best, but overhead lighting, lamps, and clamp lights are also good options.
  • Crop the final image. Everything beyond the edges of the artwork should be removed.

Unable to access equipment? Check out this video from our admissions team on documenting artwork with just a smartphone and a few inexpensive materials!

Step 4: Review

There are several free, easy ways to receive a portfolio review prior to submitting your application.

  • Request an online critique. An admissions counselor will provide a written critique of up to three pieces of artwork if you simply fill out a form and attach your image(s).
  • Schedule a personal portfolio review on campus. This is the best way to receive a complete evaluation. Admissions counselors are available Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., to review your work and to provide constructive feedback.
  • Attend a National Portfolio Day event. MCAD attends National Portfolio Days across the country. If you don't see an event near you, call the admissions office to find out if there is an event in your area.


*Excluding BS and MA in sustainable design applicants, who are not required to submit portfolios.