Portfolio FAQs

All York Bachelor of Design 2022/23 applicants

Do all applicants receive a portfolio review?
Yes. We ask all applicants to submit their work through the online portfolio system for review.

What work should I include in my portfolio?
Your portfolio should comprise 10 to 12 samples of original work that demonstrate a wide range of ideas and competency with different media and tools. In addition to the types of work listed below, images from a sketchbook or concept/idea book are required (scanned 8-10 pages). At least one piece in your portfolio should present word(s) and image(s) that communicate a message.

Your portfolio should contain your best work from at least 3 of the following areas (areas 1-6 are highly recommended for inclusion):

  1. 2D work – posters, logos, letterheads, book/magazine covers and interior page spreads
  2. Typography – words using expressive font and page layout, typeface designs, expressive lettering, experiments with typographic form
  3. Interactive media – web design, mobile interfaces, prototypes/concepts, and/or other interactive work.
  4. Motion graphics – video, animation – images, audio and typography.
  5. Drawing & Illustration – direct observational drawings and imaginative drawing are welcome. Ideally, demonstrate the use of a wide variety of media (e.g. pen & ink, charcoal, pastel, coloured pencil, marker pen, collage, digital drawings).
  6. Photography – b&w prints, colour prints, hand-tinted prints, digitally manipulated.
  7. Painting – representative and/or non-representative work in oil, acrylic, watercolour, gouache.
  8. 3D design /sculpture – scale models from plan drawings, craft and fibre experiments.

The sketchbook or concept/idea book is a very important component of the 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 will represent a variety of things that interest you and the ongoing development of ideas. Scan or photograph 8-10 pages from your sketchbook and recommended to submit as a multipage single file.

How many pieces should I show in my portfolio?
Include 10-12 portfolio pieces. Additionally, upload scanned photos of 8-10 pages from your sketchbook as a single file.

Where do these portfolio 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), extracurricular 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 portfolio files, add a title to each piece. This will help the reviewer in understanding your portfolio work. Please limit your titles to a maximum of thirty (30) characters.

Is there a preferred file format?
Still image files may be sent in pdf, 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  mp4, mov, avi, m4v 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 and should not be used as a method of showing examples of additional still images.

If you have a link to a portfolio website or online files, include the active link in a text document (pdf).