How to Build a Portfolio for Admission into Design Schools


Updated On: February 26, 2024 07:50 pm IST

Design aspirants should know how to create a portfolio for admission into design schools. Top design schools in India always look at the portfolio and conduct interviews to gauge a student’s interests and talents. Check out this article to learn how to build a design portfolio!
How to Build a Portfolio for Admission into Design Schools

How to Create a Portfolio for Admission into Design Schools: A good portfolio will make you stand out from the rest of the candidates applying for admission into design schools. Candidates who showcase their skills, work and experience through their portfolio also clear the air to get admitted to the top design schools such as the best NID colleges, NIFT colleges in India, SID and others. 

The work which students decide to showcase in their portfolios must display their versatility. Portfolio Review is also one of the important rounds for admission at many top design schools, even then many candidates do not pay much attention to it. But we advise students to avoid last-minute rush in crafting a portfolio instead they should refer to our ‘how to create a portfolio for admission into design schools’ along with other details only here. 

What is a Portfolio?

A portfolio can be defined as something that speaks for itself without actually speaking or making use of words. It is a visual diary that is consistently updated with the enhancement of skills and ideas.

We can also refer to a portfolio as a representation of a candidate’s creativity, commitment, personality, abilities and passion in their expertise field. This visual resume must be used by the students to showcase their skills, creativity and growth. Candidates must remember that apart from academic evaluation, it can also be used for job applications. A very well-crafted portfolio will help students stand out from the crowd.

Also Read: Importance of Portfolio for Admission in Design Courses

Tips to Make an Impressive Portfolio for Design Schools

Making an impressive portfolio for design schools is very important for design students. Their design portfolio must showcase their creativity, skills and academic journey. Candidates must not ignore the fact of creating an impressive portfolio as it will help them leave a lasting mark on the judges or evaluators. 

We are here with well-researched tips which will help students land their dream design school through an impressive portfolio:

# Let your work speak for itself 

Students are advised to segregate their best works from their different kinds of design work to showcase on the portfolio. The portfolio must not be limited to only your design journey up till now but it should also include the things you want to do in future.

  • Keep the best works in the portfolio and different kinds of work.
  • Also, the students must remember that they will be asked questions about their work, so they must select the work which they are detailed about.

# Work on the presentation of the portfolio

Presentation is a skill which needs to be present while creating a portfolio. So, students must strategically follow the sequence of work in their portfolio and present everything in order. 

  • The portfolio must be labelled with an introduction to the projects. However, the introduction must not surpass the limit of one line. 
  • Also, to keep the eagerness of the judges static for the next design, candidates are advised to only create a rough one-liner introduction and leave the rest for the design to speak. 
  • The layout of the portfolio must be kept as simple as possible without any clustered detailing.
  • Also, the arrangement of works should be kept smooth for the ease of evaluators. 
  • They are advised to keep the product green as much as possible to make the page look clear.

# Remember quality is more important than quantity 

Students determined to do their best in the portfolio review round must keep in mind that they must not overstuff their portfolio with multiple similar types of design work. Instead, they should focus on keeping the portfolio neat and simple. 

  • It is highly recommended by the experts that a portfolio must not exceed the bar of 10-15 pages. They must include only one project per page. 
  • This will also help you as a student to have clarity of projects and designs you have included in your portfolio. 
  • Keep the images which showcase your interests. 
  • Students must also include works that showcase their knowledge of colours, design and themes.
  • Some works showcasing the candidate’s awareness of different types of tools, approaches, design styles and media must be included. 

# Organise the portfolio for better representation 

The portfolio must be organised keeping in mind the ease of any judge or evaluator to make out the gist of works included in it. 

  • Create categories such as education, work experience, awards & certificates, workshops & conferences, job models and unique skills. 
  • Every page of the portfolio must have a concise title.
  • Frame a layout & design and avoid any kind of decoration. 

# Carry your models or prototypes

Models or prototypes will help judges get a different approach to a candidate’s skill set. So if you think you are good at making one, you can carry your model or prototype in the portfolio review round. 

  • Models or prototypes must not be very high-tech.
  • They can be made out of simple things like clay, foam or paper. 
  • It will help evaluators understand the thought process, skill set and creative ability of the candidate. 

# Keep a printed or hard copy of the portfolio

Though printed or web-based portfolios are a recent trend which may take up the hard copy portfolios, we advise the students to carry their hard copy portfolios to not get into any kind of last-minute trouble. 

  • It is highly advised that candidates avoid uploading their work on any online websites. 
  • As the centre may not have proper internet access which will be a hindrance for candidates. 
  • While some students may want to go for the representation of portfolios on their laptops, they are suggested to avoid too flashy patterns or layouts and instead keep it very simple and easy to understand. 
  • Students can also carry a sketchbook or A4 or A3 size papers comprising their creativity and ideas through handpainted sketches. 

Also Read: Top 10 Fashion Design Institutes in India 2024

How to Organise a Design Portfolio?

Students need to organise their design portfolio in systematic ways, which are mentioned in the pointers below:

  • Size of the portfolio: A portfolio can be made of any size as there are no size restrictions. However, carrying it must considered while crafting one. If it’s too bulky, it may be difficult to carry around.
  • Relevant items: Students are advised to carry the items in their portfolio that are simple and irregular but they should be relevant. The work can be done on the same white paper sheets. 
  • The number of works: There are no restrictions or amounts imposed on the number of works. But students have to be practical and bring their best work to bag a good impression. They can carry different projects and 2-3 sketchbooks. 
  • Large pieces of work: The works which are large in size or 3D objects or large paintings can be presented in a portfolio through photographs. Students can carry along the physical examples with them if called for an interview. However, they must consider the small size, lightweight or difficult to photograph. 
  • Keep breathing space in your work: The portfolio must not be stuffed with dozens of the same patterns. Then they should select only 2 or 3 out of all. 
  • Stay strong, end strong: Just as the saying, starting and ending strong will keep the lasting impact of turning over the pages of the portfolio. 
  • Keep your portfolio a mix of variable works: Keeping different types of work will keep the engagement of your portfolio stable. 
  • Logical arrangement of work: Arrange your work in a logical order and present every work facing the same way.
  • Know the core of your work: Display the work which you can explain to the judges or evaluator. 

How do I Submit my Portfolio?

If any student is applying for a course which requires them to solve a portfolio such as for admission at any design school they are required to follow the procedure specified by the respective college. There are some things which must be considered before the final submission of the portfolio:

  • The portfolio must be saved in an accessible, high-quality format 
  • Remember to not surpass the given file size 
  • Keep the file in the specified format 
  • Save the file with a professional name

Also Read: Best Design Colleges Apart from NID & NIFT

Things to Include in a Portfolio for Admission into Design Schools 

Before starting to create a portfolio for admission into design schools, students must refer to the things which are a big yes while framing a portfolio: 

  • Table of Contents: Always make a table of contents with the page number on the very first page of your portfolio. 
  • Career Objective and Goal: Students must include their career objective and their future goals. 
  • Resume: A resume comprising all details about candidates' academic qualifications, achievements, work experience and others must be included. 
  • Work Sample: It is advised to include the most unique and creative work in the portfolio. It can be a presentation, project or publication. 
  • Awards & Honor: They can also mention any of their awards, honour, certificates or scholarships. 
  • Testimonials & Letter of Recommendation: Any testimonials or if received any letter of recommendation received from a professor or client can be mentioned. 
  • Workshop & Conference: Candidates can mention the design seminars, workshops and conferences if they have attended any. 

Related Reads:

Creating a portfolio might be tough for many candidates, but we hope we have given answers to your doubts and confusion through this article. Make the best out of your existing work and don’t stress. 

You can reach out to us in the QnA zone and get your doubts answered.

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How does a portfolio look like?

A portfolio is a visual diary which includes projects and pieces of work done by the students. It must contain the representation of the candidate’s skill set and creativity.

How do I make a design student portfolio?

Design student portfolio can be made simply by:

- Sharing your best works 

- Keeping the layout simple

- Avoid overstuffed works 

- Keeping your introduction catchy

What is the best format for a design portfolio?

Some of the best formats for a design portfolio include:

- Physical Portfolio: A hard copy of the portfolio is a highly recommended format. 

- Online Portfolio: Candidates may show their online portfolio to the evaluators but keep in mind that it must be simple. 

- PDF Portfolio: A PDF format portfolio should comprise selected works.

How many pieces should be in a design portfolio?

Different sites and guidelines will give a variety of work to be included in the design portfolio. However, it is suggested that students should include at least 15-20 work samples.

What makes a strong design portfolio?

A strong design portfolio must contain labels, a good balance of textures & visual content, an introduction of projects and most importantly, it should showcase the student’s creative outlook.


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