Portfolio Day: Most Important Art Event of The Year

By Mikaela Arce

On one hand, you have the student: A blossoming young artist with high hopes and ambitions, hesitant to display their work to the scouts, but aspiring to reach their fullest potential. On the other hand, you have the representatives: drained and exhausted from their weary travels, but longing to fulfill the duties at their scheduled event. Ladies and gentlemen, quite literally put your hands together for Austin Portfolio Day 2013.

“Every year in the fall of September through January every single weekend schools take turns hosting Portfolio Day,” School of Visual Arts Admissions Officer Melinda Richardson said. “We are a college in New York City, but we’re hosting in Austin, TX, today, and then Dallas next weekend. We are ad recruiters – we interact with the high school students and prepare magazines in order for students to come. We send posters and email campuses to let Texas know about Portfolio Day. Essentially we just interact with teachers and students to get more schools to come to the events. Students are encouraged for art but we just want to see as many schools as possible; all we want is for you to show up with your portfolio and have our representatives give you feed back.”

The importance of portfolio day is immeasurable, especially for art students that plan on going to college or earning scholarships. Representatives for schools come as far as out of the country and as close as here in San Antonio to scout possible students and gain contact information for future semesters.

“The importance of the day for top art students is that all major art colleges will determine portfolio acceptance and or scholarships. Instead of sending your work to an office in New York and  anonymously getting a reply three to four weeks later, they have the opportunity to meet their representatives and have one on one time learning about the school they could be attending by maybe next year,” art teacher and event coordinator Clif Tinker said. “It’s also a chance for the kids to get an overall evaluation on their progress this year about what they need to work on next year and what they’re good at. We also had the kids do a little research before going in case they wanted to look at any one school individually; they have their portfolios prepared, some have their resumes and letters of recommendation, photos of some of their work, contact information- everything is set and ready to go.”

In a more surprising twist, the top priority for most art colleges is unusually not straight A’s. Of course, there are minimal requirements depending on what you want to do, but they are very minimal. Some schools ask for as much as a 2.0 GPA. Grades are important but it’s not likely that you’ll be rejected by getting an 80 semester average as long as you have artistic potential, drive, and charisma.

“The most ideal student doesn’t have to be the class valedictorian or the art super star, it just has to be someone who has creative dedication,” Admissions Counselor Micheal Rossi said. “A lot of it has to do with being dedicated or driven is what we’re looking for-students who want to be there and want to try their very hardest.”

Keeping that in mind, you should never be afraid to put yourself out there; especially in the art world.

“A lot of students are worried, but we encourage them to bring anything. Be proud of yourself because being an artist is very hard,” Richardson said. “For every kid that goes into there [portfolio day] there are many, many more that wouldn’t out of fear. It takes a lot to be able to stand in front of someone you don’t know and have them look at something you made yourself, all the artists in this event are very brave.”

In the end, the overall turn out was a win-win for students and colleges. “I gained more confidence in my art and learned about my strengths and weaknesses and how to improve my art,” senior Candace Wagner said. “In general it just feels good to have other people’s opinions on your art.”

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