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Along with academic transcripts and the statement of intent, the portfolio plays an important role in the admission review process. Portfolios are reviewed with the goal of identifying the creative and technical skills, abilities and potential of each applicant.

A portfolio should reflect each individual's unique art background and experiences. No portfolio will ever be compared to another when assessing admission eligibility.

For more detailed information on specific portfolio requirements for each department, please select a major from the menu below.

Digital Portfolio Submission

The following applicants are required to submit a portfolio in digital format (CD-R or on SlideRoom):

  • All applicants who would like to be considered for scholarship
  • All transfer applicants seeking credit for studio art classes

SVA encourages applicants to submit digital portfolios online at SlideRoom.  Prints are also accepted, but a digital portfolio is required if you would like to be considered for scholarship.

An in-person portfolio review can allow you to meet the visual portfolio requirement, but a digital portfolio is still required for scholarship consideration and for transfer applicants.

SVA will not accept personal URLs or websites in place of aforementioned portfolio requirements. 

All application materials become the property of SVA and will not be returned. 

Film and Video Portfolio Requirements

The portfolio requirement for the Film & Video program is a two-part film essay or a film reel.  

Film Reel

Film and video production work should be submitted on a DVD or online at SlideRoom.  No more than three minutes of film and video will be viewed, thus it may be appropriate to submit excerpts of longer work.  If you choose to send a DVD, please format the video as a .mov file.  A written description of the applicant's role in the work should be included.

Two-Part Essay

Part One
In the first part, applicants must describe an imaginative story or significant real-life event in 500 words or less. This essay should be told as a short story with a plot, including a clear beginning, middle and end.

Part Two
In the second part, applicants must adapt the story from part one into cinematic terms using 1,000 words or less. By retelling the same story in these terms, the applicant is encouraged to be very visually descriptive, using camera cues/angles and dialogue. By controlling these elements, the applicant as filmmaker must engage the reader, communicate the significance behind the event or story, and take the reader someplace the filmmaker feels is worth the ride.

The essays are not meant to be scripts or screenplays. The admissions review will focus on an applicant's storytelling ability and how successfully images, ideas and plot are communicated.

The essays should be double-spaced and neatly printed or typed and each page numbered and labeled with the applicants name. 

General Portfolio Requirements

Please follow the general portfolio requirments for your portfolio if you are applying to the following departments:

  • Advertising
  • Animation
  • Cartooning
  • Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects
  • Fine Arts
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration
  • Interior Design
  • Visual and Critical Studies

Drawing samples are the most important part of the portfolio for applicants to the majors listed. Please include examples of drawing done from the direct observation of live, three-dimensional situations. These can include self-portraits (using a mirror for reference), figure drawings, object studies, still lifes and landscapes. (Two-dimensional references can be included in a portfolio, but should be kept to a minimum.)

Painting, printmaking, drawing and/or collage work that expresses the color sense of an applicant is welcome.

Three-dimensional work that explores notions of composition, light, form and/or spatial relations should be submitted in digital format (CD-R) and should include shots from multiple viewpoints.

Design projects and computer-generated images can be included but should be kept to a minimum. Applicants with computer-based interests are required to submit a portfolio that demonstrates their drawing-from-observation skills.

Sketchbooks offer important insights into the creative process of an applicant. Applicants are encouraged to include the most recent sketchbook at the time of a portfolio review.

Please see additional portfolio recommendations by department:

Advertsing, Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects, Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Visual and Critical Studies

Design projects and computer-generated images are not recommended for inclusion in Computer Art portfolios. However, applicants that do submit this work should be careful that it is not about what a computer program can do but what an artist can do with a computer program. It is recommended that this type of work be kept to a minimum and is submitted in conjunction with drawing, painting, and/or sculpture.

Animation

Animation applicants should be careful not to overload their portfolios with images of comic or cartoon characters. Though character development is essential to successful animation, the ability to take objects (people, places, things) that exist in the real, three-dimensional world and place them (and make them move) believably in the two-dimensional picture plane is key at this point. This potential is better demonstrated at the point of admission by direct observation work.

Cartooning and Illustration 

Cartooning applicants are encouraged to share their "professional" interests and abilities with the College. Applicants who publish their own zines, create graphic novels, or run their own strips should include these as part of their portfolio. However, applicants should be careful not to overload their portfolios with images of comic or cartoon characters. Though character development is essential to success in the cartooning world, the ability to take objects (people, places, things) that exist in the real, three-dimensional world and place them believably in the two-dimensional picture plane is key at this point. This potential is better demonstrated at the point of admission by direct observation work.

Interior Design

Examples of drafting, design, or digital projects can always be included in a portfolio. However, applicants must be careful that the work submitted is not so much about what a computer program can do but what the applicant can do with a computer program. Applicants should also be able to discuss the unique concepts behind their design work. It is recommended that this type of work be submitted in conjunction with drawing, painting, and/or sculpture.

In-Person Portfolio Reviews

Portfolio interviews are available on a limited basis. Appointments are currently available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. To schedule an appointment, please contact the Office of Admissions (212.592.2100) two to four weeks in advance of the date you would like to visit. On-campus portfolio reviews are not required for admission. 

Please note portfolio reviews will not be offered December 18, 2013 to January 13, 2014. During the application season (January through March), portfolio review appointments are limited and only scheduled for Fall 2014 applicants. Please plan accordingly. 

TIPS

  • Applicants should bring actual work to an interview or portfolio day event. Work does not need to be mounted or matted. However, the care in which an applicant presents and discusses his/her work can play an important part in a review.
  • Oversized work and three-dimensional work should be submitted in digital (CD-R) or print format.
  • Sketchbooks can play an insightful role in a portfolio review. Applicants are asked to limit sketchbooks to the most recent and complete book.
  • Actual portfolios will not be accepted by mail or drop-off and should only be submitted at the time of an in-person review.
  • All application materials become the property of SVA and will not be returned.
Photography Portfolio Requirements

Photography applicants should submit 15 to 20 photographic images. These can be submitted in actual print form only when attending on-campus portfolio reviews. Applicants not attending an on-campus portfolio review must submit a portfolio in digital format (CD-R) or uploaded to SlideRoom.

Composition, light, form, and spatial relations. These are concerns often addressed in drawing, painting, and three-dimensional work. Surprisingly, these are not always considered in the work submitted by photography applicants. Content and story are of prime importance in a portfolio review. But composition, light, form, and spatial relations provide the objective terms with which photographers can tell subjective stories. Aspiring photographers should be careful to consider these issues when creating their images.

It is recommended that applicants have experience self-developing and self-printing black and white work. However, digital images are also appropriate and encouraged parts of a portfolio. When submitting digital work, especially electronically manipulated work, be careful that the work is not demonstrating what a computer program can do but what a visual artist can do with a computer program.

Work that explores a specific theme or series of themes or ideas is also recommended. Work that appears to represent a single photo shoot or a single roll of film often offers a limited view of an applicant’s creative potential.

Scholarship Consideration

To be considered for a scholarship, first-time freshmen must submit all admissions materials (including a digital portfolio on CD-R or uploaded to SlideRoom) postmarked by February 1st. Transfer applicants must submit all admissions materials postmarked by March 1st. 

All applicants who possess a minimum 3.0 GPA and adhere to the above deadlines will be automatically reviewed for scholarship. 

Only scholarship winners will be notified of an award.

All application materials become the property of SVA and will not be returned. 

Selecting Artwork

The ideal portfolio will consist of 15 to 20 pieces of recent artwork and will include examples of work done from the direct observation of life.

When deciding which pieces to include in a portfolio, the advice and suggestions of others can be helpful. However, it is important that the applicant makes the final decision and submits a portfolio that best represents those ideas, issues and work that they would like considered in the review process.

Though applicants may want to include examples of work from past years, especially to demonstrate growth, it is more important to submit work that represents current skills and experiences.

It is also important to submit work that speaks to an applicant's strength. Submitting work simply to show a range of mediums (such as one charcoal, one pastel, one watercolor, etc) is not recommended if it sacrifices consistency of quality.

All application materials become the property of SVA and will not be returned. 

School of Visual Arts | 209 East 23 Street, NY, NY 10010-3994 | Tel: 212.592.2000 | Fax: 212.725.3587