Portfolio Reviews

Do you have what it takes?

The Department of Art seeks to enroll the most capable and motivated young artists and designers in its degree programs. Admission is limited and highly competitive.

A portfolio is not required for admission to the university, but once admitted as a freshman or transfer student and enrolled in classses, a candidacy portfolio review is required for entry into some of our degree programs.  This review takes place after the completion of certain coursework at Appalachian. Each program has specific courswork requirements.

The following degree programs require a candidacy portfolio review: 

The following degree programs do not require a candidacy portfolio review:

The candidacy portfolio indicates the student’s preparedness for entry into the department’s rigorous and demanding studio-based curricula. It shows the applicant’s aptitude for visual expression and demonstrates technical skills that have been acquired in the art and design.

Newly admitted freshmen and transfer students are strongly advised to attend the Department of Art meeting scheduled during freshmen and transfer orientation sessions where additional important information is given to all prospective art majors.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Candidacy Portfolio Review relate to the Foundations Portfolio Review?

The Foundations Portfolio Review no longer exists. The Candidacy Portfolio Review replaces the Foundations Portfolio Review for all BFA programs. This change serves two purposes: 1) it allows easier access to introductory art courses for students across all majors, and 2) it creates consistency in how students are admitted into all BFA programs.

When in my college career do I submit to Candidacy Portfolio Review?

Application at the earliest point of eligibility is recommended, to allow time for re-application or change of major if the application is unsuccessful. For most students, the prerequisite courses will be completed during the fall of the sophomore year, though students with transfer credits may be eligible to apply sooner. All declared BFA majors must pass the Candidacy Portfolio Review before enrolling in any 3000-level classes within their major.

Do I need to apply to Candidacy Portfolio Review if I already passed the Foundations Portfolio Review?

For BFA Studio Art and BFA Art Education majors, no. For Graphic Design majors, you will still need to pass the Candidacy Portfolio Review that has been in place for many years.

Is the candidacy portfolio review for Graphic Design changing at all?

No.

May I apply to more than one Candidacy Portfolio Review in the same semester?

Yes. You may apply to one, two, or all three reviews, provided you have met the necessary pre-requisite course requirements.

What happens if I don’t pass the Candidacy Portfolio Review?

You have several options:

  • You may re-apply the next semester
  • You may apply to a different BFA program the next semester
  • You may use your earned credits toward a different major within the department, or as an art minor with a major outside the department
  • How many times may I re-apply to the Candidacy Portfolio Review?
  • You may re-apply to each Candidacy Portfolio Review one time. In other words, you could potentially submit to each BFA program twice, for a grand total of six Portfolio Reviews.

What courses should I take if I’m not sure which BFA program I intend to apply?

Evaluate the checksheet for each major. There are many classes that overlap amongst the majors, including five of the six pre-requisite courses. Register for courses that will fulfill requirements for all majors in which you are interested until you have advanced to candidacy in one or more majors.

BFA Art Education Portfolio Requirements

Coursework to have completed by the end of the semester in which portfolio is submitted

  • ART 1001 Foundations I
  • ART 1002 Foundations II
  • ART 1003 Foundations Drawing
  • ART 2222 Introduction to Art Education
  • One 2000 level studio art class
  • Either ART 2030 Art from Prehistory to 1400 or ART 2130 Art from 1400 to the Present
  • Praxis I or equivalent

Access important information and dates here.

For information about Candidacy Portfolio Review for BFA Art Education, email Brooke Hofsess at hofsessba@appstate.edu.

BFA Graphic Design Portfolio Requirements

Overview

All prospective graphic design majors must submit portfolios for review to be formally admitted into the BFA Graphic Design program. Students must pass the review to take ART 3102 Typography II, ART 3302 Idea Lab, and for students on 2020-2021 and later programs of study ART 2230 History of Graphic Design.

The portfolio review happens twice a year, immediately following the end of classes in the fall and spring semesters on Reading Day. Graphic Design faculty will meet with interested students during group advising meetings each semester to announce the date of the review, explain the review process, and answer questions.

You must either complete, or have in-progress, the courses listed below. A grade of C or higher in each course is required for admission to the program. If you pass the review, but do not earn a C or higher in a prerequisite course, you will need to repeat the course before you can continue.

For information about Candidacy Portfolio Review for BFA Graphic Design, contact Mark Nystrom at nystromml@appstate.edu.

Prerequisite Courses

Complete the following courses by the end of the semester in which you submit your portfolio

  • ART 1001 Foundations I
  • ART 1002 Foundations II
  • ART 1003 Foundations Drawing
  • ART 1102 Introduction to Graphic Design
  • ART 2102 Typography I
  • Either ART 2030 Art from Prehistory to 1400 or ART 2130 Art from 1400 to the Present

Submission Date

The submission deadlines are on Reading Day in fall and spring semesters. Submissions must be made via Slideroom by 11:59pm on Reading Day.

Portfolio Contents

Your portfolio must contain:

  • All projects and process work from Introduction to Graphic Design
  • All projects and process work from Typography 1
  • Three drawings (not digital)
  • Two pieces of work from non-graphic design studio courses (one must be 3D)
  • Application video (see prompt below)

Application

The portfolio and application video must be submitted via Slideroom. The link to the portfolio review program will be available on Slideroom two weeks before the submission deadline.

The submission process starts with a form which will ask for links to your video and process documentation. When submitting images of your projects, please complete all required boxes including: title (course name and project title) and size (if drawing or studio art work).

Process Documentation

Prepare a PDF that shows documentation of your process work for each project in Introduction to Graphic Design and Typography I. Organize the PDF by class and project.

Your PDF does not have to show absolutely everything, but what you choose to include should show the breadth and depth of your design process. This PDF will show the GD faculty how you think and make. You determine its length.

PDFs can be made with Adobe applications InDesign, Illustrator, and Acrobat, or they can be exported from Google Slides. Before you upload the file make it a smaller file size by opening it in Adobe Acrobat and go to File > Save as Other > Reduced Size PDF.

Application Video

Record a video response (5 minutes max) to both of the following prompts:

  • Tell us about a project from Introduction to Graphic Design or Typography I that was impactful. What were the challenges, breakthroughs, and how did the experience affect your work?
  • Tell us about what you want to make as a designer.

Guidelines and Tips

Present your graphic design and typography work as specified on your class assignment. Presentation matters: make sure your images are well documented.

Documentation Tips

As a designer, many opportunities in your career will be based on images of your work. Good documentation for your portfolio is critical. For installation work and many 3D media, giving a sense of the work may include offering various angles, carefully considered lighting, and an appropriate setting. This is your chance to give us the best possible experience of your work. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Make sure you are photographing the work, not background clutter
  • Photograph your work on a plain, neutral background
  • Crop your image so that your work fills as much of the frame as possible; show off your work, not the background. The perspective crop tool in Photoshop is an excellent way to get clean, straight images.
  • If you don’t have a lighting setup, photograph your work outside on an overcast day, or in the shade. This will provide even light without harsh shadows
  • Consult with your past or current instructors or artists in your community
  • You may also consider hiring a fellow student or professional photographer who advertises portfolio services
  • If you’re photographing your own work, consider reviewing these tips about how to document your work

Review Process

A review committee consisting of all members of the Graphic Design faculty will review portfolios and essays submitted via Slideroom by the deadline each semester.

The review process is competitive. The review committee will assess not just your achievements but your potential for future growth as a creative practitioner. Strong grades in your prerequisite courses do not guarantee a successful review.

The review committee’s decisions are final and may not be appealed. Students will be notified of their acceptance status within three weeks of submission.

Submitting your portfolio for review signifies that you have read, understood, and will observe the conditions of the review as described here.

Criteria

  • Application of Design Principles and Elements. Work shows the skilled use of a visual design vocabulary including an eye for composition and layout. Application of formal principles (scale, balance, weight, texture, direction, etc.) is highly creative and appropriate. Form/counterform relationships are highly active. Work shows a clear understanding of color relationships.
  • Aesthetics. Work generates an appropriate and memorable aesthetic response. Type choices and type combinations show a keen sensitivity to typography.
  • Systems. Work shows an advanced understanding of typographic systems (hierarchy/structure/ grid). Projects in a series use a common and related visual language.
  • Craft. Work is produced with a high level of polish demonstrating excellent hand skills and attention to detail. Work made digitally shows a clear proficiency with software.
  • Conceptual Thinking. Work demonstrates a mastery of the relationship between ideas, their physical representations, and interpretations by viewers. Ideas embodied in the work are innovative and strong.
  • Research. Process documentation shows a robust creative search with the exploration of multiple directions and variations. Work chosen for inclusion in the portfolio has undergone a thorough process of refinement.
  • Presentation. Portfolio is well organized and presented.
  • Communication Skills. Written and verbal communication is insightful, articulate and comprehensive.

Evaluation

  • 4 = strong evidence of specific criterion
  • 3 = good evidence of specific criterion
  • 2 = some evidence of specific criterion
  • 1 = minimal evidence of specific criterion
  • 0 = no evidence of specific criterion

Results

If you pass review, take ART 3102 Typography II and ART 3302 Idea Lab in the following term; these courses are prerequisites for ART 4102 Typography III and ART 3202 Interaction Design I. Students on catalog years of 2020-2021 and later should also take ART 2230 History of Graphic Design.

If you do not pass the candidacy portfolio review, you may resubmit your portfolio for one further review only. Before resubmitting, you are strongly encouraged to consult with the instructors of your graphic design courses for advice and feedback, and with the assistant department chair to discuss your options. You may continue to advance toward a degree in Graphic Design by taking art history, studio art, and general education courses. Remember that Introduction to Graphic Design and Typography I can count as electives in other degree programs.

Computer Requirement

All students who pass Candidacy Portfolio Review will be required to purchase a laptop computer and subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. Academic pricing is available.

BFA Studio Art Portfolio Requirements

All intended BFA Studio Art majors must submit portfolios for review to be formally admitted into the program, and before enrolling in 3000-level studio courses.

Portfolio reviews happen once each semester. The submission deadlines are: the third Monday in March (Spring semester) and the third Monday in October (Fall semester).

Studio Art faculty will meet with interested students during group advising meetings each semester to announce the deadline for portfolio submission, explain the review process, and answer any questions.

You must complete or have in progress the prerequisite courses listed below to qualify for review. A C grade or higher in each course is required for admission to the program.

For information about Candidacy Portfolio Review for BFA Studio Art, email Frankie Flood at floodfd@appstate.edu.

Coursework to have completed by the end of the semester in which portfolio is submitted

  • ART 1001 Foundations I
  • ART 1002 Foundations II
  • ART 1003 Foundations Drawing
  • Any two 2000 level studio art classes
  • Either ART 2030 Art from Prehistory to 1400 or ART 2130 Art from 1400 to the Present

Portfolio Submission Date

The submission deadlines are: the third Monday in March (Spring semester) and the third Monday in October (Fall semester). Submissions to be via Slideroom.

Portfolio Contents

10 images of your best work, including:

  • a brief essay responding to one of three prompts
  • a recommendation from an Appalachian State University Art Department faculty member 
  • a semester-by-semester plan for what courses to take through graduation

The portfolio and application essay must be submitted via Slideroom. The link to the portfolio review will appear below four weeks prior to the deadline.

Please complete all required boxes on Slideroom including: title, dimensions, media, and additional information, which should include a description of the assignment, your process, your thinking, and/or your creative problem solving.

Application Essay

Write an essay of no more than 500 words in response to one of the following prompts:

  • What is an area of interest or issue outside of art and design with which you are concerned, and how has it influenced your art and creative thinking?
  • What does studying art at the college level mean to you? How do you see this experience impacting your future?
  • What project in one of your studio classes challenged you the most, and why? Describe your creative process. What did you learn from the experience?
  • What is the most influential artist talk you have attended? How has this impacted your creative process?

Documentation of Art

As an artist, most opportunities in your career will be judged from images. Good documentation of your portfolio is critical. For installation work and many 3D media, giving a sense of the work may include offering various angles, carefully considered lighting, and appropriate setting. This is your chance to give us the best possible experience of your work. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Make sure you are photographing the art, not background clutter
  • Photograph your work on a plain, neutral background
  • Crop your image so that your art fills as much of the frame as possible; show off your work, not the background. The perspective crop tool in Photoshop is an excellent way to get clean, straight images.
  • If you don’t have a lighting setup, photograph your work outside on an overcast day, or in the shade. This will provide even light without harsh shadows
  • Consult with your past or current instructors or artists in your community
  • You may also consider hiring a fellow student or professional photographer who advertises portfolio services

Image Specifications

  • File format: JPEG only
  • File dimensions: 1500 pixels on the longest side
  • File resolution: 72 ppi/dpi (standard web resolution)

Documenting your work tips

Review Process

All members of the Studio Art faculty will review portfolios and essays submitted via Slideroom by the deadline each semester. Students will be notified of their acceptance status within three weeks of submission.

The review process is competitive. The committee will assess not just your achievements but your potential for future growth as an artist. Strong grades in your prerequisite courses do not guarantee a successful review.

If you do not pass the candidacy portfolio review, you may resubmit your portfolio for one further review only. Before resubmitting, you are strongly encouraged to consult with studio art faculty for advice and feedback. You may continue to advance toward your degree via additional art history courses and 2000-level studio art courses.

Submitting your portfolio for review signifies that you have read, understood, and will observe the conditions of the review as described here.

Criteria

 

  • Creativity: Work reveals an original approach to process, concept, subject matter and a willingness to take risks.
  • Craft & Technique: Work reflects competence and potential within chosen medium.
  • Content: Work successfully communicates meanings, ideas, attitudes, views and intentions of the artists in a concrete, complex, nuanced, and intelligent manner.
  • Design: Work appropriately applies formal design and composition principles (scale, balance, weight, color relationships, etc.) in support of conceptual intent.
  • Drawing: Drawing demonstrates competent representational drawing skills.
  • Communication: Writing is insightful, articulate, introspective, and specific.


Evaluation

  • 3 = strong evidence of specific criterion
  • 2 = some evidence of specific criterion
  • 1 = minimal evidence of specific criterion
  • 0 = no evidence of specific criterion
Graphic Design student trims project

Graphic Design student trims project

Metals student disc cutting

Metals student disc cutting

Printmaking student prepares plate

Printmaking student prepares plate

A student's process binder as part of their graphic design portfolio

Show us how you think

Docuemtation of a student’s design process is a critical component of Graphic Design’s portfolio review. Graphic Design faculty want to see finished work, but they also want to know how a student thinks. Every sketches and prototype for assignments in Introduction to Graphic Design and Typography I serve as evidence of how they work. The student whose binder is pictured here was accepted into the prgoram and is now working as a graphic designer in Los Angeles.