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Portfolio Preparation for Art & Design General Foundation Course

When you apply to Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, your portfolio is an important part of your application. There is no prescriptive ‘formula’ to submitting a successful portfolio, however, this online gallery will provide an insight into how recent applicants to the course have presented their work to us.

What should I include in my portfolio?

Your portfolio is your opportunity to showcase your development, personality and abilities. We are looking for originality, creativity, curiosity, talent and enthusiasm. Different individuals have different ways of expressing their creativity and the Selection Team is receptive to a broad range of approaches.

In the interests of fairness, all applicants’ work is considered in relation to a set of evaluation criteria:

  • Analytical drawing
  • Demonstration of independent thinking
  • Expression of visual ideas
  • Quality of presentation and editing
  • Engagement with the subject

Analytical Drawing

You should be able to demonstrate direct observation and recording of your subject. We want to be able to see how you interact with your subject and your ability to observe and draw directly from source. While all artists and designers will refer to other sources for additional reference, the Selection Team can distinguish the difference between genuine observed studies from life and those developed from photographs.

 The skills which should be demonstrated here include, your ability to:

  • Analyse
  • Be expressive
  • Be inquisitive
  • Be methodical
  • Interpret
  • Observe      


Demonstration of Independent Thinking 

Your portfolio is your showcase, and sketchbooks are a demonstration of how you explore and develop your ideas into final pieces. The sketchbook can also allow you to demonstrate personal work other than what may be required for school or college curriculum. It’s also acceptable to develop this work on sheets of paper rather than a sketchbook if you prefer.

 The skills which should be demonstrated here include, your ability to:

  • Analyse
  • Experiment
  • Explore
  • Progress
  • Self-direct
  • Self-motivate


Expression of Visual Ideas

Although you may want to specialise in a particular area you should be aware of various media or combinations of media and their appropriate use in relation to scale and effect, for example traditional artist’s materials (pencil, charcoal etc.) with other techniques (photography, digital printing etc.).

We don’t expect you to include every media or technique but you should be able to show a range of different techniques.

The skills which should be demonstrated here include, your ability to:

  • Be inventive with media
  • Experiment
  • Explore
  • Use various techniques 


Quality of Presentation and Editing 

It is advisable to be selective about what you include in your portfolios and edit your portfolio to show your strongest work. We would advise you seek the advice of your principal art & design teacher/tutor or other appropriate professional, in the compiling and presenting of your portfolio.

The Selection Team is impressed by a portfolio that is presented in a clear and straightforward manner and you should consider the following points when presenting your portfolio:

  • Your work should be well presented without being over elaborately mounted or unnecessarily difficult to access.
  • Individual pieces of work should be mounted simply on to white or neutral paper.
  • Larger pieces should be mounted singly or if they are fully A1 sized un-mounted.
  • Smaller pieces can be grouped together on to a sheet.
  • 3-dimensional works should be well photographed and presented clearly, detailing the scale and media used.
  • There is no virtue in quantity alone and applicants should not include multiple colour variations of prints, for example.
  • Any photographs included should concentrate on images that convey your interests and ideas (between 6 and 10 images).
  • Video works should be presented on a DVD, playable on a Mac computer.
  • Avoid cutting around drawings and making over elaborate mounts.
  • Whilst some applicants present their work in a folio with plastic sleeves, this is not a necessity. 

Engagement with the Subject

This refers to your ability to reference and research the work of others within the field of art and design and perhaps also elsewhere.

You should have some knowledge of a range of artists and designers' work and demonstrate where this has perhaps influenced your thinking, development of ideas or exploration of techniques.

However, you should be cautious about unnecessary ‘padding’ in your portfolio i.e. multiple sheets of magazine cuttings as a form of research that does not add value to your own work.

An applicant who can communicate their ideas, interests, passions and enthusiasms in an individual and genuinely engaged way will always be of interest to the selectors. A broader cultural and contextual awareness, evidence of having visited galleries, museums, exhibitions and other events should also be included.

 The skills which should be demonstrated here include your ability to:

  • Demonstrate your passion/ enthusiasm
  • Develop ideas
  • Engage
  • Explore

Portfolio Submission

Remember to check the UCAS application deadline date for Art & Design courses at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee. Any applications submitted after the date stated will not be considered. Although you are required to submit your application by the deadline your portfolio will not be required for viewing until Easter. We do not require a ‘mini’ portfolio submission on application.
The UCAS course code for the Art & Design General Foundation course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design is WW12.
Applicants must apply to the Art & Design General Foundation course WW12 and not directly to the specialist course i.e. Fine Art W100, Graphic Design W210.
Please note: strict portfolio submission instructions apply in respect of size and weight. Your portfolio should be no larger than 950 x 735 mm and not heavier than 10kg.
Only one single portfolio (including sketchbooks) per applicant will be accepted. There is no requirement to present your work in plastic sleeves. Full instructions for submission will be provided in the invitation to submit correspondence.