Preparing Your Portfolio

Let’s see what you can do!

Applicants to most programs at KCAD must submit a portfolio for consideration into that program. Below, we have outlined the requirements by program. Your portfolio must contain a sufficient amount of work to show your serious commitment. Please remember that nothing submitted by mail will be returned. Passing the portfolio review does not guarantee acceptance into KCAD.

Standard Portfolio Requirements

For consideration into the following programs; Art Education, Art History - Studio Focus, Drawing, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Metals and Jewelry, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, and Sculpture & Functional Art, your portfolio must contain 10 to 15 finished pieces, beginning with 5-7 observational drawings (that is, drawings from real life. For example, still life, portrait, landscape, and figure, design drawing, perspective drawings from life and refined product drawings. No drawings from photos). The other portion of examples is open to your individual passions and personality. This might be a refined body with a cohesive concept of work, best of your private work or a collection of your favorite experiments. Depending on your program of interest please include related work - paintings, prints, photos, graphics, ceramics, furniture, models, jewelry, character/concept art, illustration, animation or web design - whatever you like and are good at doing.

Medical Illustration Portfolio Review

Medical Illustration applicants must complete the Standard Portfolio Review requirements listed above as well as submitting one photograph, of any subject matter, and an original pencil drawing of the photograph on a sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper.

Digital Media Portfolio Requirements

Your portfolio must contain 10 to 15 finished pieces, which may include drawings (character/concept art, illustration or observational), 3D models, 2D or 3D animation, video, graphic design, web/app design, game design, photos, print design - whatever you like and are good at doing.

Fashion Studies Portfolio Requirements

The KCAD Fashion Studies Portfolio Review is a two-part portfolio. One portion includes sketches of your original fashion design artwork. A sketch can be defined as a drawing, using traditional materials, or may be created using digital technology. The second portion of the portfolio includes samples of your constructed/sewn garments.

  • Part One: Fashion Design Artwork
  • You are required to provide six to eight (6-8) total full-color sketches. Three (3) of which are to be considered as a group that has a common theme or concept. The theme or concept is to carry through each of the three pieces as displayed through the color/prints/fabric choices. The remaining three to five (3-5) sketches will be of your choice. Whether they continue the theme or concept of the previously established theme, or are stand-alone designs, it is your choice.

    To fulfill Part One, use the following:

    • Draw original designs in color using the medium of your choice. Original artwork can be computer generated. Design sketches are to be on full-length fashion figures with back views.
    • Include 2 inch x 2 inch neatly cut fabric swatches to represent the fabrics you would use to make the garments. Attach to a clean flat surface. Be sure to identify the type of fabric used including the fiber content and fabric construction (e.g. 100% wool gabardine).
    • Include a short written explanation of the inspiration and any related images defining the theme for the collection and for individual designs.
  • Part Two: Sewn Garment Samples
  • You are required to provide examples of a maximum of three (3) garments that you have sewn. Samples must demonstrate knowledge of construction, originality, and design aesthetic. Garments can be created from commercial patterns or you can develop your own patterns or drape the design. Garment examples must be sewn by the applicant. Do not show garments that have been simply decorated or modified.

    Clothing is to be photographed on a person or dress form with front and back views, as well as close-up detailed views. Images must be properly oriented (i.e. not upside down or sideways).

  • Submitting your Fashion Studies Portfolio Review
    • In-Person
    • Part One: Bring 8 ½ inch x 11 inch color copies of your sketches with you and be prepared to discuss what inspired you to compose this work.
    • Part Two: Bring your garments with you. You will take garments home after portfolio review. If you cannot bring garments with you, then you should photograph them as outlined above on a person or dress form.
      Mail-In
    • Part One: Send 8 ½ inch x 11 inch color copies of your original sketches. Do not mail your original artwork – it will not be returned.
    • Part Two: Do not mail actual garments—they will not be returned. Mail photos of your garments on 8 1/2 inch x 11 inch paper. Follow the instructions above for photographing your pieces on either a person or dress form.

    Need help?

    If you've never taken studio art courses, or if you just aren't prepared to present a portfolio, contact us at 616.451.2787 or 800.676.2787. We're happy to work with you on an individual basis and provide any help you need.

    You can also watch this video for helpful hints and suggestions for preparing your portfolio for review.

    Presentation tips

    We've seen a lot of portfolio presentations over the years. Here's our advice on making a good impression:

    • Relax! We're not looking for professional work - we're looking for your best work. We're looking at design quality, color usage, craftsmanship, draftsmanship, composition, and concept development. We're also looking for evidence of the personal qualities that will help you succeed at Kendall - qualities like creativity, motivation, dedication, drive, and enthusiasm.
    • Submit your best, most recent pieces.
    • Include pieces that you truly enjoy. Your portfolio can show a narrowly focused body of work or a wide range of media.
    • We'd prefer to see the work in person, but if it's too large to transport easily, you're welcome to bring in digital images, slides, video, or photos.
    • You don't need to frame your work. Matted, mounted, or loose work is just fine with us.
    Make it
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