Portfolio FAQs — Distance

Applicants living a distance greater than 300km from York University

Do applicants living a distance greater than 300km from York University receive a portfolio interview?

No. Domestic and international applicants living a distance greater than 300km are not required to attend a portfolio interview. Instead, we ask these applicants to submit their work to the York University online portfolio site and include a greater number of portfolio images.

What should I show?

Your portfolio should contain samples of your original work that demonstrate a wide range of ideas and competency with different media and tools. A sketchbook or concept/idea book is one of the required pieces. At least one piece in your portfolio must include an example of word(s) and image(s) that communicate a message. Typically, an applicant’s portfolio contains their best work from at least three of the following areas: Areas 1 to 6 are highly recommended for inclusion in the portfolio.

  1. Two-dimensional design work e.g. designs for posters, logos, letterheads, book/magazine covers and interior page spreads, CD/DVD inserts.
  2. Typography e.g. poetry or words using an expressive font or page layout, typeface designs, expressive lettering, projects with text settings designed for clear communication. Drawings and experiments with typographic form.
  3. Interactive media e.g. web site design and/or other interactive work.
  4. Motion graphics e.g. video or animation using images and typography. Short pieces with a strong message are preferred.
  5. Sketchbook or concept/idea book e.g. studies and examples of your media/tools experiments, process explorations. Your sketchbook or idea/concept book should contain “notational drawings,” i.e. quick line drawings done to explore layouts and visual concepts.
  6. Drawing & Illustration e.g. direct observational drawings are preferred (not drawn from photographs). Imaginative drawing is also welcome. It is good to demonstrate the use of a wide variety of media (pen & ink, charcoal, pastel, coloured pencil, marker pen, collage, digital drawings).
  7. Photography e.g. B&W prints, colour prints, hand-tinted prints, digitally manipulated.
  8. Painting e.g. representative and/or non-representative in oil, acrylic, watercolour, gouache.
  9. 3D Design/Sculpture e.g. scale models from plan drawings, craft and fibre experiments.

What is the purpose of a sketchbook or concept/idea book?

The sketchbook or concept/idea book is a very important component in your portfolio. It should contain a variety of studies and examples of your media/tools experiments and demonstrate an exploration of visual and annotated ideas, comments and critiques. It should represent the ongoing variety of the things that interest you and the development of your thoughts and ideas.

How many pieces should I show?

Generally a maximum of 15-20 pieces that show your best strengths. Four or five of these pieces should be supported by scanned pages from a sketchbook or concept/idea book that represent research, sketches and alternative ideas that you developed and/or modified to get to the final solution.

Where do these 15-20 pieces come from?

Typically, the applicant selects their pieces to show in their portfolio from school assigned projects, personal interest projects (e.g. a book cover you designed on your own for your favourite novel), ideas (sketchbook, concept/idea book, etc.), development/variations of ideas (design process documentation), extra curricular art/design classes and professional work where appropriate.

What is the York BDes looking for in a portfolio?

During your portfolio review, the faculty will be looking for the following:

  1. The breadth and quality of investigation in your work (as demonstrated in the selected pieces shown, your idea/concept books, and your design process documentation),
  2. Evidence of the various creative thinking processes employed in your work,
  3. Demonstrated visual abilities in your work (typography, colour, composition, perspective, drawing),
  4. Technical skill in a diverse range of media and tools used,
  5. Communication skills as demonstrated by your ability to discuss your work and thought processes in your writing
  6. Care in the selection and presentation of your work.

How will my portfolio be evaluated?

Your portfolio score is based upon a 100 point system as follows:

  1. Quality of the work: 60 points
  2. Ability to embrace process: 40 points

Any advice for a successful portfolio?

Show only work which reflects your strengths – both creative and technical. After you upload your image or video file, you will be given the opportunity to add a title to the image. Please limit your titles to a maximum of thirty (30) characters.

Is there a preferred file format?

Still image files may be sent in jpg, png, or gif formats. Each still image file should be no larger than 5 MB. Do not include more than one work per file.

Videos will be accepted in mpg, mp4, mov, avi, wmv, m4v or vob formats. Video files should be no longer than two minutes in length and the size of each video upload is limited to 60 MB. Please note that videos are considered part of your selection of twenty files and should not be used as a method of showing examples of additional still images.