Applying to art schools pose their own challenges – The Forest Scout
Great art takes time. It’s time to plan it, sketch it, create it, perfect it. Every work of art, film and theatrical performance represents hours and hours of hard work by dedicated individuals.
Now imagine condensing every piece, every creation, and an entire artistic journey into a single app that could decide your future.
The process of applying to a fine arts program or college, including visual arts, film, and theater, is long and arduous, and it all starts with creating a portfolio.
The portfolio, a compilation of a student’s pieces to show their artistic style and technical mastery, is a requirement for virtually all art schools and is an important part of an application.
“On average it was about fifteen pieces per portfolio,” said Abigale Lawrence, senior, who is looking to study illustration.
“Different colleges will have different applications, different portfolio requirements, so your portfolio will be different for each college.”
Portfolio differences between colleges are largely due to the wide range of requirements in their applications. This leads to artists needing over fifteen pieces and often takes years to fully assemble.
Range is also important, as colleges want to see a diversity of mediums and art forms. Even capturing the art is a component. Parts cannot have smudges, must be crisp, clear images in good lighting, and be of high quality overall.
There are also “portfolio reviews” where colleges will have the opportunity to review the art of prospective students and provide feedback.
“You can speak with the admissions staff to see if they like your job and what you can change with your portfolio,” said senior Ruby Stockton, who hopes to study graphic design and marketing.
Lawrence also remembers doing “many, many portfolio reviews.” “These are super helpful. Also super stressful,” they said.
Film portfolios are a bit different – they require about five minutes of “highlighting” the candidate’s top two or three films.
Michael Monachino, an active member of new media seeking to study cinema, collected most of the his materials from his home videos. “I’m using a movie I made for my YouTube channel. I’ve also done a few VR movies, and I’ll be using school footage,” he said.
For the other fine arts majors, namely acting, there isn’t even a proper portfolio. Drama apps start with something called pre-screens: a list of required videos, featuring demonstrations of one’s singing, acting, and dancing abilities.
For senior Amelia Myers, who is applying for a major in musical theater, the process began before that, with a class that didn’t even prepare her for the actual auditions, only pre-screens.
She added that it was “so helpful in preparing for audition season and submitting my shortlists. I was also able to get advice from people in the class, and others who had already graduated.
Yet Myers’ journey is far from over. “Now that I heard, I scheduled auditions, I did auditions, I submitted more material to them, whatever they wanted to see from me,” she said. She does not expect to receive actual letters of acceptance until March.
Another hurdle to overcome is the fact that there are many ways to get a visual arts education. You can go to an arts school or conservatory only, attend an art school within a university, or just major in fine art. This decision is especially difficult for students who have multiple interests. As is the case with Stockton, who considers both art and marketing.
Then, of course, there are the trials.
They are often quite similar to traditional essays, but some are a bit more original. “The additional essay topics are very broad, and I think that’s what they want. One of mine asked me ‘What is design to you?’ said Stockton. She believes it is to prove your passion for your intended field of study.
“There were definitely a lot of them,” Lawrence said. “Personally, I found it a little more challenging because most of it is about your process as an artist, which can be very personal and hard to describe.”
Myers, on the other hand, remembers his test prompts being a bit lighter. “There was one subject on the film that I thought would make the best musical. Fun stuff that gives them a window into who I am as a person. They just want to know who you are as a person and see if you’ll be a valued member of their community,” she said.
Extracurricular activities and class choices also played a role in the application process.
Myers also did a lot of acting throughout his high school career, and even long before that. She has taken the three acting classes offered and participates in plays and musicals whenever she has the opportunity.
However, there are also other routes.
“I didn’t take any graphic design classes after freshman year,” Stockton said. “I kind of learned everything I needed to know.”
Instead, she “created opportunities with design.” She remained involved in non-digital art-related activities, such as theater and the Talent Show, where she used her skills to design shirts, posters, and more.
However, the consensus among them all is that, as long as a student is passionate, they do not need to have taken every course possible, or participated in every activity possible, to go to fine art school. .
“I don’t think they’re looking for anything specific,” Monachino said. “They just want to see that you have used your time well as far as your interest is concerned.”
Laurent shares this conviction. “For most schools, I don’t really think it’s super necessary to have an AP art class or be in a bunch of other art classes. I’m sure that helps a little , but I’ve seen a lot of people get into colleges without them,” they said.
In general, there seems to be one thing schools look for in arts applicants: passion.
“I love making stories with all my heart,” Monachino said. “Being a director is my dream job, because I want to create things for the world to enjoy.”
Although the art school application process is difficult, most applicants find these unique challenges worth the effort. “While this is definitely a difficult process, I still really encourage anyone who is passionate about it to give it a try. It’s tough and it’s a very long process, but the payoff in the end is definitely worth it” , Myers said.