You can present your portfolio any time before or during the application process, but your application isn't complete until you've done so.
The majority of KCAD programs require a portfolio review. The exceptions are students entering Art History with an Academic Focus, Collaborative Design, Furniture Design, and Interior Design (please note that while Collaborative Design and Interior Design students do not submit a portfolio, they must submit an Observation Exercise).
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 your portfolio review can be submitted via and in-person appointment or by submitting electronically with Slideroom. Passing the portfolio review does not guarantee acceptance into KCAD.
For consideration into the following programs:
- Art Education
- Art History - Studio Focus
- Graphic Design
- Industrial Design
- Metals and Jewelry
- Sculpture & Functional Art
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.
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.
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).
- 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.
- Part One: Submit 8 ½ inch x 11 inch color copies of your original sketches.
- Part Two: Submit 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.
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.
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.
For consideration for admittance into the Photography program, your portfolio must contain 10 to 15 finished pieces that include:
- 5-7 photographs.
- A minimum of 3 observational drawings created from real life. For example: still life, portrait, landscape, figure, design drawing, perspective drawings from life and refined product drawings. Drawings from photographs will not be considered.
- The other portion of your portfolio is open to your individual passions and personality. This might be a refined cohesive body of work, the best of your personal work, or a collection of your favorite experiments.
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.
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 KCAD - 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.
Private portfolio reviews
We always prefer face-to-face portfolio reviews, but we understand that it is not always possible. If you can't present your portfolio in person, submit an electronic portfolio through Slideroom. Please note that there is a $10.00 USD fee charged to submit using Slideroom. If you have any questions, please contact the Admissions Office at (800) 676-2787 and ask for Admissions.
Other review opportunities
We review portfolios during visits to area high schools (ask your art teacher), as well as at National Portfolio Days at colleges throughout the U.S. and Canada. Learn more about National Portfolio Day and find one near you.