These portfolio guidelines are designed to help you with your preparation for applying to Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD).

We hope that you will find them useful. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you need any further information.

Portfolio Guidelines

Portfolio Content

One of our most frequently asked questions is: “what should I include in my portfolio”?

This is a difficult question to answer as we are looking for originality, creativity, curiosity, talent and enthusiasm; therefore, we are reluctant to provide a prescriptive formula as individuals obviously have different ways of expressing their creativity. However, to give you an understanding of what we expect to see within the portfolio, here are a few pieces of advice:

From your portfolio, the Selection Team expect the following:

  • to view enthusiasm, creative ability, intellectual and practical skills in the visual arts
  • to obtain a sense of who the individual is
  • visual awareness and understanding
  • potential for further development

We are interested in your most recent work, but you may include earlier work if you feel it is particularly relevant. Earlier work should be dated. You should include representative examples of work undertaken as part of a course of study.

As a guideline you should show examples of:

  • drawing/visual studies, including photography, mark-making, observed and intuitive drawing
  • drawings from primary source material
  • evidence of research skills; analysis of investigation and development, leading to the final submission
  • if available, making skills such as models, sewing etc.
  • self-motivated work
  • sketchbooks

The Selection Team regard your portfolio as providing evidence of your own judgement, however we strongly recommend that you seek the advice of your art & design teacher/tutor or other appropriate professionals in the completion and presentation of your portfolio.

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

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 portfolio 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.

You should be able to communicate your ideas, interests, passions and enthusiasms in an individual and genuinely engaged way, as this will 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

Sketchbooks

The Selection Team will pay particular attention to your sketchbooks or other development work with regard to the extent to which they reflect the range of your interests and experience. Sketchbooks are regarded as being of great value in recording images, exploring ideas and developing concepts. You should:

  • include examples of sketchbook work showing your visual thought process and information gathering ability
  • show an awareness and use of various media or combinations of media – this could be
  • evident in either/or your drawing and sketchbook images
  • show awareness of colour, composition and imagery – this can be shown through finished pieces or sketchbooks
  • submit all sketchbooks within your portfolio

There is no virtue in quantity alone and candidates should not include multiple colour variations of prints, for example.

Other Media

A portfolio of photographs and/or moving image works is also acceptable. For photographs, concentrate on images that convey your interests and ideas; try to include a series of thematic images (between 6 and 10 images) as well as individual photographs. Video works should be presented on a DVD, playable on Mac computer. A selection of work can be presented with a maximum total length of 5 minutes.

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.

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.

Digital Portfolio Guidelines

Your digital portfolio should ideally contain no less than 15 pieces of creative work, preferably as small files in JPEG format.  Please include a short description of each piece of work submitted, indicating size, media, date produced and any other information you feel is relevant to the work.

A portfolio of photographs and/or moving image work is also acceptable.  For photographs please concentrate on images that convey your interests and ideas; try to include a series of thematic images (between 6 and 10 pieces) as well as individual photographs.

Sketchbooks

Sketchbook pages can be photographed and submitted digitally in JPEG format.

Within your sketchbook samples you may wish to:

  • include examples of sketchbook work showing your visual thought process and information gathering ability
  • demonstrate an awareness and use of various media or combinations of media – this could be evident in either/or your drawing and sketchbook images
  • demonstrate awareness of colour, composition and imagery – this can be shown through finished pieces or sketchbooks

Digital Portfolio Submission Format

  • jpg, jpeg, gif, tiff, tif, doc, docx, ppt, pptx, pdf, png and bmp file types are allowed and each file size limit of 5Mb
  • Movie files can be submitted providing links to YouTube/Vimeo or QuickTime movies

Application/Portfolio Consideration Process

The Selection Team comprises academic staff representation across all art & design subjects within DJCAD.

Portfolios (digital and original) are viewed/assessed in the following applicant categories: Schools, FE Colleges, Individual Applicants.  This ensures portfolios are considered fairly and in relevant context.  Portfolios will be viewed and ‘graded’ by members of the Selection Team, decisions being made on this basis.

Digital Portfolio Submission

You will be prompted by our Admissions Team to submit your digital portfolio (and answer a few questions in respect of your interest in studying art & design at DJCAD), via the University of Dundee Applicant Portal, thereafter, if required, we may contact you to arrange an interview in person or via Skype.

If you require further information on any aspect of the application consideration process or the undergraduate programme in general, please do not hesitate to contact us.

DJCADGeneralFoundation@dundee.ac.uk