By Alexia Lang

Your portfolio can be a golden ticket to a world of possibility.

Attention paid to detail while assembling your portfolio can really pay off in the long haul.

While working artists might assemble a relatively small sampling of work that relates to the project for which they are interviewing, most often a student’s portfolio should highlight all of the student’s skills. The portfolio you prepare for school applications and future interviews is intended to showcase you.

There is no specific formula to use when creating a portfolio. But there are key questions to ask yourself when building a portfolio:

  • What is the purpose of the portfolio?
  • What audience are you creating your portfolio for?
  • When and how will your portfolio be shared with its audience?

You should also take into account that art schools will review your portfolio looking for current skills and future potential of a student.

Consider including a selection of techniques, mediums and works that show your creative processes. Some schools will request certain content and technical features. Be sure to check with the admissions department of the school where you hope to attend prior to submitting your portfolio.

It’s important to follow any technical requirement the school has in order to avoid being eliminated from consideration simply for not following guidelines for submission.

Most often, a portfolio should feature 10-20 images and descriptions of your recent work.

While it’s always a good idea to build a professional looking physical portfolio that you can take with you to an interview at a moment’s notice, many schools and companies now request digital portfolios. This can be in the form of a personal website or even a presentation created in Flash, Powerpoint or a video format.

Steve McCrea, Global Skills Instructor at SunEd High School in Margate, Fl., recommends Google sites, Weebly, creating a blog and making folders on Google Drive as good options for creating a digital portfolio. McCrea also stresses the importance of really thinking through what goes into your portfolio.

“A digital portfolio without vibrant projects is just another shell,” he said. “Projects that don’t mean something to the students are just more classwork that has only one person in the audience (the teacher).”

When helping students create their portfolios, McCrea has a go-to quote for inspiration. It’s something Tony Wagner, Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, said: “The single most important thing you could do tomorrow for little to no money is have every student establish a digital portfolio where they collect their best work as evidence of their skills. Where they’re working with their teachers and other adults to present their best work, to iterate their best work, so that they actually have real progress they can show.”