Preparing Your Portfolio

Your best work

The portfolio you submit provides the Admissions Committee a sense of your passion and work ethic in relation to what you make. The work in your portfolio should demonstrate knowledge and versatility of media and subject matter, combined with an understanding of color, composition and design.

Your portfolio should include a minimum of 10 pieces of recent work, but feel free to add more work if desired, including sketchbooks and journals. JPEG format is preferred, but files in any universal audio, video, graphic or Web format are acceptable. Your portfolio MUST be submitted through the student portal you created during the application process.

High school students interested in further developing their portfolio for college admissions, should consider taking our summer studio program — Pre-College ArtLab (PCAL).

How do I receive a portfolio review?

The portfolio review is a critical part of the admissions process and we encourage your portfolio to be reviewed prior to applying. You may have your work reviewed in the following ways:

  1. Schedule a portfolio review during your visit to KCAI. In this case, original work is highly recommended. If you have large-scale, and/or three-dimensional work, digital images or other forms of documentation are preferred. You might need to show more than one view and/or details of this type of work.
  2. Schedule a portfolio review at a National Portfolio Day (NPD). Portfolio Days are ideal opportunities to receive feedback from a KCAI counselor in a city near you.
  3. If you cannot meet us in person, please contact us and we will arrange a virtual counseling session via email.

Please never send us original work for review by mail.

How do I submit my portfolio?

  • For digital media, JPEG format is preferred but files in any universal audio, video, graphic or Web format are acceptable.
  • Individual files should not exceed the following
    • Images (up to 5MB each)
    • Video (up to 250MB each)
    • Audio (up to 30MB each)
    • PDFs (up o 10MB each)
  • Time-based work or performance pieces may be submitted in video format, as listed above. Additionally, we will accept links to external media from YouTube, Vimeo, and SoundCloud.
  • All applicants must have a portfolio on file with their application to be reviewed for a scholarship.
  • Your portfolio must be submitted here after your application has been submitted.


How do I document my work?

Start by using a digital camera with a tripod to insure a steady camera and a timed setting or cable release. Even if you do not own a camera and tripod, you will be well advised to rent equipment or arrange with a professional photographer to take them for you.

If you want to shoot with an artificial light source, place the two light stands on either side of the piece at an angle of 45 degrees. Keep the stands at equal distances from the work, approximately twice the distance as the camera is placed from the piece. Start with your largest piece first, fill the frame in the viewfinder and continue down to the smallest to insure correct light exposure.