Your Portfolio is a collection of your artistic work. It demonstrates your creativity, personality, abilities, and interests. As an emerging artist or designer, your portfolio is a required part of an application to NSCAD.
Your NSCAD portfolio should be a collection of recent works presented in the form of digital documentation or links to audio or video pieces – all uploaded to your application. It should contain:
Your portfolio should include 10-20 examples of your original work in at least
three mediums (materials used to create your art) that youâ€™ve explored.
Your process work tells us how you explore new ideas, make creative decisions
and experiment. Show 5-10 examples, which might include but is not limited to:
- observational drawing
- maquettes for sculptures
- writing and research
- concept development
List of Works
Provide details on the dimensions, media, title, and date on each piece of finished work. If you would like, you can include a few sentences about the work, such as what your intentions were, what you learned, what you hoped to achieve, or anything else that would help the reviewer better understand you work.
Finished work and process work are submitted online as digital files through apply.nscad.ca. You may show us your sound or video pieces by uploading them to a site like Vimeo or YouTube and including the link to them in your portfolio. Digital image files should be smaller than 500KB for JPG and 2MB or smaller for PDF. Youâ€™ll find full upload instructions at .
Essential ingredients for a good portfolio.
Portfolios should demonstrate and contain:
- Original work made by you! You may also submit work that you collaborated on, but please remember to briefly explain the collaboration in your List of Works.
- Work you have confidence in, displaying a diversity of subject matter and medium.
- A good understanding of what you are interested in.
- Your general level of curiosity and creativity about how you view your surroundings.
- Your level of maturity, self-motivation and commitment to a craft, design, or fine art education.
- Choice and presentation of your work – your ability to edit your creative outcomes to choose the best works that describes your curiosity, interests, explorations, skill and knowledge.
- Your ability to focus on process – making something from start to finish with the ability to identify all the steps in between.
- Your ability to communicate the quality of your thoughts and ideas.
- Youâ€™re encouraged to use personal experience and cultural heritage as possible avenues of exploration for the required projects and other work submitted for review. Tell us your story!
- You should include work that gives evidence of your ability and willingness to look closely and carefully at a subject.
- Clear process, procedures, or paths of exploration and experimentation may tell the Admissions Committee as much about you as does the finished work, so use the sketchbook/journal to your advantage (if applicable).
- The Admissions Committee is particularly interested in seeing work that is carried out independently of classroom assignments and that makes the most of the opportunities available to you as an artist. We want to see what can you create that hasnâ€™t been instructed by a teacher.
- The work you submit should display a wide range of explorations, and use a variety of materials. This shows that youâ€™re open to working with different media in response to observation of a particular situation or subject.
- Take good pictures of your work. Be sure that your images are in focus, well-lit and on plain backgrounds and surfaces. It is a good idea to crop images of two-dimensional work right to the edge of paper or canvas.
- If you plan to include audio or video work, upload your files to a hosting site (e.g. YouTube) with links included on your List of Works.
- Curate your collection! If you have multiple versions of similar themes or mediums, show us one or two of the best examples.
- Document your work as you go and include these images as part of your process work, giving insight into the creative journey of your finished works.
- Include your most recent work completed in the past two years. If you want to include older work, tell us why.
- Have someone you trust look at your portfolio, such as an art teacher. You can also reach out to us in the Office of Admissions, and we are happy to provide feedback and advice before you apply.
Examples of mediums you might include in your Portfolio:
- Cartooning/Anime (with reference r originals)
- Circuit Bending
- Creative Writing
- Performance Piece
- Film (Digital or Analog)
- Found Materials
- Recycled Materials
- Graphic Design
- Graphic novels
- Interactive Displays
- Photography (Film or Digital)
- Printed matter
- Product Design
- Rug Hooking
- Spoken Word
We are also interested in:
- Projects integrating creative practice with other disciplines: engineering, architecture, chemistry, physics, mathematics etc. If you created something that crosses boundaries, it may be considered as a piece in your portfolio.
- Excerpts of time-based work (performance, film, sound or video) may be uploaded to Vimeo, YouTube or personal/professional website, with links to specific works provided within the List of Works. Total running time of time-based excerpts should not exceed 15 minutes.
What is a sketchbook?
Your Sketchbook should contain five-to-10 pages of your process toward making art. What do you think about before you make your final images, your research, your ideas, your sketches? This is your visual journal of collections of doodles, lyrics, poems and drawings. You should approach this journal as if no one would see it (except us). Be brave and have fun!
Letâ€™s talk about your portfolio.
NSCAD University hosts information sessions and portfolio previews for foundation applicants and other interested individuals such as parents, guardians and teachers. These sessions are held twice yearly on the third Saturday of February and October. Individuals are welcome to tour the university facilities, discuss visual submissions with members of the Admissions Committee and explore program offerings with university faculty and students. For further details or to sign up for the next Portfolio Day, please visit Upcoming Events.
National Portfolio Day
NSCAD University is a member of the National Portfolio Day Association (NPDA) which was created solely for the organization and planning of National Portfolio Days. Since 1978, NPDA members have been hosting portfolio days and career-in-the-arts events throughout the United States and Canada. The NPDA consists of accredited art colleges and university art departments which are members of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. It is the only organization of its kind, and its membership represents the highest standard of visual arts education. NSCAD participates in a number of NPDA events in various cities throughout Canada and the United States each year.
Visit for more information.
Want to take your portfolio to the next level?
NSCAD Extended Studies offers an online Portfolio Preparation Course focused on improving your portfolio. The online Portfolio Review course is designed for students interested in applying to post-secondary education and would like support in consolidating their work into a portfolio format. Topics covered include how to document and select work shown in a portfolio, the importance of a sketch book and how to prepare a letter of intent. Each module includes instructor presentations or demonstrations as well as resources for additional reading. To help you build a strong portfolio, instructors will facilitate group Q/A sessions as well as provide individualized critique and feedback.
Read more about the course .
Having problems uploading your files?
Please check out our how to upload page for specific upload procedures.