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Portfolio guidance

When you apply to Graphics at NUA, we will ask you to prepare your portfolio, a written submission and an interview.

These methods are used to assess your suitability to the course. All three elements should clearly demonstrate your passion for the subject and your individual creativity.

Your portfolio

When compiling your portfolio, choose pieces that reflect your creativity and personal interests and demonstrate your technical skills. Your portfolio should include at least two projects where you show the steps you took to develop an idea. This might mean you include experiments, drafts or variations that show the progression of your project from the earliest stages through to completion. Do not worry if they are not perfect drawings, paintings or renderings, because they allow us to understand how you think during the creative process.

You should also include finished projects that you are excited about and particularly proud of. We are interested in seeing what gets you excited about the creative subject you wish to study. You may submit school/college projects and coursework, but we recommended that you include independent projects. These self-initiated projects tell us a lot more about you and your ambition and illustrate your ability to generate ideas.

Written submission

Your portfolio must include a piece of written work. It might be part of or an entire piece of written work between 500 and 1,000 words. You may submit an essay or report completed and marked as part of your schoolwork or an original creative journal or blog entry. The writing should demonstrate your ability to think critically, make an informed analysis and confident communication in a subject area related to your proposed course of study. All written work must be in English and, if you are submitting your written element digitally, sent as a PDF file.

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. Avoid 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 and/or your creative accolades.

Your portfolio should be relevant to the course, but do include a wide range of work that shows your creativity, technical competence and understanding of space. You may wish to include some or all of the following:

  • You may wish to include:
  • Drawings, painting or illustrations that demonstrate your image making skills, including life drawings, images drawn from observing people and landscapes or from your imagination
  • Models or sculptural works in any medium
  • Experiments in various print making processes
  • Typography
  • Editorial work
  • Collages, montages and mixed media
  • Web design
  • Sound design
  • Film or animation work
  • Photography
  • Work created using Adobe Creative Suite or other appropriate design software package
  • Package design
  • Visual identity
  • Advertising
  • Brand extension – how your idea works across a range of media
  • Context suggestions, ie. where you see this work being used

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 showreel, 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 showreel, 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: admissions@nua.ac.uk
  • Non-EU and EEA applicants should send a link to: international@nua.ac.uk

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