The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts requires an Admissions portfolio of 12-15 consistently strong images. We are interested in well-developed fine arts portfolios. We are looking for skill, creativity, focus and ambition. Your portfolio should consist of observational drawings that investigate line quality, composition, value, proportion and the illusion of depth. We also want to see works that showcase the complexity of your thinking and how you create and organize visual images. These works may be observational, imaginative, conceptual or abstract, and can be executed in any media. In every case we want to see your strongest work. Do not submit images that are outdated or low quality.
Any successful undergraduate fine arts portfolio must include examples of observational drawing. An observational drawing is any drawing that you make while looking at actual objects. It can be a figure drawing, portrait, still life, interior space, landscape, etc. Do not use photographs as reference. The ability to translate a three-dimensional object into a two-dimensional image is one of the most challenging drawing skills that an artist must master; it is critical that the committee is able to evaluate this ability. It is impossible to overstate how important this aspect of your portfolio is.
In addition to evaluating your observational skills, the committee will look for evidence that you have the ability to think conceptually and to create visual art according to your own personal vision. These works can be in any style or medium and should be finished pieces that use the elements of visual language to convey a clearly developed idea.
Beyond technical skill and conceptual thinking, a quality portfolio should display the artist’s response to a variety of challenges. Outstanding portfolios will maintain strong conceptual themes, while exploring a diversity of media, scale, and technique. Students should strive to create complex compositions, display breathtaking skill, and exhibit a unique artistic point of view.
Your portfolio should display focus and commitment. These are the elements that distinguish scholarship-winning portfolios. Remember, it is never a good idea to sacrifice or dilute quality; a portfolio should only contain 12-15 of your strongest images. Do not include work that is ambitious if it is not also well executed.