City Lit Blog

Portfolio advice and guidelines

Story added 8th Jul 2019

Thinking of applying for our Foundation diploma in art and design? Check our helpful tips for creating a portfolio that will really stand out.


When it comes to creating a portfolio, it is important to note that there really is no ‘right’ way to present your work. Every portfolio that we see is different and the way that your work is displayed is very important as it enables us to learn about you, your approach to creativity, how you see things and how you work. 

What to think about when creating your portfolio

  • We expect to see evidence of a creative and working mind. In whatever form you present your work, we want to see curiosity and interest in the world around you and in your experiences. This often comes from the materials and processes you work with. 


  • You are required to provide evidence of drawing as one of your primary techniques. Think about how your drawings portray your observation of the world around you or your thinking processes. Other techniques you may also want to use, but are not limited to, include photography, collage, found objects etc.


  • We expect to see some evidence of the development of ideas, across a range of materials that demonstrate experimentation and decision-making. Finished work is not always necessary, but it will be helpful if you can show the evolution of one or two pieces, from first idea to completion. Do not feel that you need to explain everything as the tutor will be able to pick up your thought process.


  • Do not feel the need to mount every piece individually or label your work. Your portfolio should not look like it is about to go to an exhibition. 


  • Sketchbooks are perhaps the most useful guide to observe your creative potential. This is because they are not where you produce finished work. You should not worry about cleaning up or editing your sketchbooks as this lets us see how you think. If there is anything you do not feel comfortable with the tutor seeing at the interview, you can simply cover it with post-it notes, or ask them to skip past it.


  • You should include enough pieces to give an adequate representation of your work. This will vary from one person to another, but as a rough guide, you should aim to produce up to two folders of work and photographs as well as two or three sketchbooks.



For more information about producing a portfolio, please email