Portfolio Developments & Requirements

At a Glance:

  • Your portfolio is an essential piece of your application. It gives us insight into your unique background and helps determine if Montserrat is the right fit for you.
  • We require 12-15 finished pieces of art from the last 2 years, with at least 2 pieces rendered from direct observation (not from a photo reference or the artist’s imagination).
  • Only submit original artwork. We will not review theatre performances, creative writing samples, fan art, or portfolios which do not include direct observational drawing.
  • Document your work with bright, evenly lit photographs. Be sure to edit your photos, exclude any distracting background elements, and submit high resolution images
  • Include descriptions of each piece detailing the title, size, medium and concept or idea behind the piece.
  • We encourage all students to participate in a preliminary portfolio review before applying. Sign Up Here.

The Significance of Your Portfolio

At Montserrat, your portfolio allows the Admissions staff to understand your artistic potential and unique creative voice. Montserrat’s small campus-size allows Admissions staff to spend the amount of time necessary for an insightful evaluation, allowing us to determine each applicant’s potential for artistic and academic success in our program. It is every student’s goal to find the right-fit school; the portfolio is an essential piece in deciding if Montserrat is a compatible program for establishing and achieving the academic career goals of each applicant.

Requirements & Criteria

Applicants are required to submit 12-15 of their strongest, most resolved works of Visual Art made within the last two years. These works can be created in any form of artistic media handled within our listed concentrations. Encouraged media types are listed but not limited to: Animation, Sculpture, Video, Drawing (Traditional Materials or Digital Rendering), Painting, Installation Art, Fiber Art or Wearables/Garments, Documentation of a Performance Art (we are not looking for theatre, chorus or musical examples), Photography (Digital or Dark-Room Photo Process Works), Print-Making, and Graphic Design.

We require at least two drawings from direct observation, meaning the student observes a model or still-life and renders the three dimensional subject on a two dimensional picture plane (photo referencial drawings are highly discouraged for two observational work samples). The two observational requirements are included within the 12-15 work samples. Traditional materials or digitally rendered media (working on a tablet using a stylus) are accepted to meet the observational drawing requirement.

Suggestions for direct observation drawing samples: a still-life composed of objects with significant personal meaning to the applicant i.e a guitar and books, shoes, coffee mug, etc., self portrait using a mirror (not a photo) or a drawing of an applicant’s bedroom. If an applicant is inexperienced with observational drawing, a simple still life is perfectly acceptable!

Examples of drawings from direct observation:


What Should I Submit?

Admissions Staff are most interested in seeing original art, creatively conceived by the applicant. Artistic intuition is the key element of evaluation in determining a student’s potential for success at Montserrat. Admissions staff seek creatively motivated students who have a deep personal connection to art-making, are inspired to take creative risks, enjoy the process of art-making and can contribute in critical dialogue within their own practice as well as in a group-setting. Artwork which reflects these standards will meet the highest level of admissions criteria in the evaluation process.

Please do Not Include:

Theatrical Performance samples, Creative Writing i.e Short Stories, Play-write samples, Fan-Art: depictions of existing, popularly known characters, cartoons, anime (unless they are original to the students creatively conceived world or existing universe), celebrity portraits, video or photo only portfolios (we need at least two examples of drawings from direct observation).

Documentation & Editing

The quality of documentation in a student’s portfolio demonstrates the care and attention to detail indicative of an applicant’s ambition and maturity. Admissions staff are looking for a brief description of the work: title, scale, medium (materials used: i.e colored pencil on paper or acrylic on canvas), year of completion and a  description of the idea or concept behind the work of art.

Tips for Documentation

  • Photograph your art in bright, balanced light.
    Using the sun’s natural light (overcast days are ideal) or a simple desk lamp does the trick! Ensure that your art is lit correctly so our staff can examine the details in your work.
  • Exclude all elements which distract from your work.
    2D work should be cropped to its edges and 3D work should be shot in front of a neutral (gray/white/black) backdrop. Common backdrops include bedsheets and blank rolls of paper. Make sure you are not including any colors, patterns, objects, etc. in the background which conflict with your piece. If you feel multiple angles of a piece are necessary for us to review it, we recommend compositing several photos on a single slide or including a video.
  • Submit high quality images.
    It is essential for applicants to submit clear, high resolution images which give the Admissions staff the most accurate representation of your work. Accurate color/ value are key! Don’t worry: most people don’t own expensive cameras. Use the one in your pocket! Photographing your work with a regular smartphone is a popular and acceptable option.
  • Give yourself options.
    We are happy to see a variety of selections of work samples in an applicant’s portfolio. Do not feel bound to a “one size fits-all” curriculum based portfolio. Personal work samples in addition to work which was created from an assignment is encouraged! A portfolio which exhibits a harmonious balance between technical craft and conceptual thought process is of the greatest interest to Admissions Staff.

Informal Preliminary Portfolio Review:

Admissions staff strongly encourage an informal preliminary review of applicant’s portfolios. We want our applicants to feel as prepared as possible for their final portfolio submission. If you would like a preliminary portfolio review via Zoom, you can schedule one with an admissions counselor by following this link.