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Portfolio guidance

When you apply to Norwich University of the Arts, we will ask you to prepare your portfolio, a written submission and, in most cases, an interview. It is through these methods that we decide on the offer we would like to make you. All three elements should clearly demonstrate your passion for the subject.

Your portfolio

When compiling your portfolio, choose pieces that reflect your personal interests and demonstrates your technical skills and creativity. Your portfolio should include at least two examples of the research you conducted to develop ideas as well as finished projects that you are excited by and proud of. We are interested in the steps you took between the initial idea for a project and the final outcome.

This might mean you include contextual research, experimental work, drafts or variations that demonstrate the progression of your project from the earliest stages through to completion. Do not worry if they are not perfect drawings, paintings or renderings; they allow us to understand how you think during the creative process.

You may submit school/ college but it is also highly recommended that you include independent projects. These self-initiated projects tell us a lot more about you and your ambition and to illustrate your ability to generate ideas.

Things to consider

Spend time choosing pieces for your portfolio. You should be confident and passionate talking about each one, as the interviewer/s will discuss your work with you. You may not be able to talk us through the entire portfolio, so be sure to present the work in an orderly, logical way. Choose a layout that tells the story of each individual project and an overall structure that gives us the full picture of you and your creative practice.

Try to show us the full range of your creative experience and interests, avoiding too much repetition in style and subject matter. Do include details about the exhibitions, shows, or festivals that have inspired you or influenced your work. Tell us about competitions or prizes you have entered or your accolades. The work you include should be relevant to the course you are applying for in some way.

You may wish to include some or all of the following:

  • Drawings, paintings and illustrations that demonstrate your skills, including life drawings, still life and images drawn from observations or from imagination
  • Garment designs that demonstrate awareness of the body at all angles, not just front and back
  • Evidence of cutting skills or garment construction techniques
  • Mood boards
  • Work created using Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or fashion design suites
  • Photography
  • Accessory, jewellery and shoe design
  • Examples of experimental uses of fabric, colour, shape and styles
  • Models or sculptural works relevant to the area of study, for example furniture or textiles

Written submission

You will be asked to submit a piece of written work that demonstrates your critical thinking and formal communication skills. It should be between 500 and 1,000 words. This might be a critical essay, report or research thesis completed and marked as part of your schoolwork. Alternatively you might include a creative journal or a blog post you have composed on a relevant subject.

All written work must be in English and, if you are submitting your written element digitally, please send it via email as a PDF file to enable consistency.

Hardcopy Portfolios

  • If you are only submitting hardcopy materials, you should submit 20 to 30 pieces and portfolios should be ring bound or with loose boards between A4 and A1 in size
  • If you are submitting a show reel, you should also present 10 – 15 images of other work (see Digital Portfolios guidance below)
  • Include 2 to 3 sketchbooks with the portfolio
  • Large, intricate or fragile pieces should be shown as good quality photographs
  • Put your name on the portfolio
  • Labels should be discreet, neat and used in a consistent manner

Digital Portfolios

  • Up to 30 images, including images from sketchbooks, research, experimental work and finished pieces
  • If you are presenting a show reel, your work should be no more than 5 minutes in length and you should provide 10-15 images to accompany it
  • Digital work may be submitted using Tumblr, Flickr, Prezi, MeMyArt, a personal blog, personal website or DropBox. Emailing your portfolio is not suitable due to irregularities across different email providers
  • Ensure photographs and scans are clear, in focus and in a large enough format to see clearly
  • Ensure your digital portfolio is accessible during the interview as our interviewer/s look to load this in advance of the interview
  • All UK and EU applicants should send a link to your digital portfolio to admissions@nua.ac.uk
  • Non-EU and EEA applicants should send a link to international@nua.ac.uk

Find out more

You can find out more at one of our Open Days, by arranging for us to visit your school/ college or by contacting us. For all UK and EU queries, you can contact Lou, Tom or Tori by emailing studentrecruitment@nua.ac.uk.

All Non-EU and EEA queries should be emailed to Richard or Amanda on international@nua.ac.uk.