Some of our applicants are right out of high school, some from art colleges, some have BFAs, some are self-taught, some are just changing careers. It's a wide range of backgrounds and skill levels.
What we at VanArts are primarily looking for in your portfolio is 12 examples of your best artwork. Any medium can be included, and there are different parameters for different programs (see the Requirements page for suggestions) Ideally we would like to see some diversity…drawings, paintings, graphic design, cartoons, etc. Experience with animation or modeling is not required, only a basic understanding of fine art principles. Some of our programs at VanArts involve courses with a great deal of drawing (particularly Game Art and Character Animation), so we need to know that you have, at the very least, a good foundation in the basics.
What if I don't have any drawings or art to show?
For Photography or Acting, drawing is not required. Drawing is a skill that some of us have a natural talent for, but all of us need to practice at it. Luckily, it's not something you need a fancy computer or the right software to create, all you need is a sketchbook, a pencil, and some hard work & imagination. Life drawing is the most basic skill needed for media arts, so if you don't have a drawing portfolio, spend a few weeks filling a sketchbook with drawings done from life. Draw portraits of your friends, sketch people in the street, draw a still life or landscape, do studies of your hands & feet. Ask other artists for advice and pick up some instructional books. It's better to draw from looking at 3D objects than copying another 2D image, because it trains your eye to draw what you see, taking into account structure, light & shadow, and perspective. Send us the best examples from your sketchbook.
If you are local to Vancouver, we have a part-time course in Basic Drawing that can teach you these skills and help you develop a portfolio. If you live elsewhere, see if there are similar courses being taught at a nearby art studio or community college.
If you have other kinds of art, but not specifically drawing, send us what you DO have! We want to see what you know. We're basically looking for potential.
Is there anything I should NOT include in my portfolio?
The only things we would prefer not to see would be obvious copies of popular cartoon or comic book characters, or any offensive subject matter.
What format should my portfolio be in?
Please send us 12 examples of your best artwork, in any medium. Photocopies, prints, websites, blogs, Deviant Art or Flickr pages, DVD or CD are acceptable, as well as jpegs or a compressed Zip folder attached to an e-mail. Please do not send original pieces of artwork; only copies.
I've done a little bit of animation or film/video work. Can I send that too?
What are my chances of being accepted?
It ultimately depends on the overall presentation of your application, and the availability of space in the program. Keep in mind that it's not just the portfolio we look at, but also your resume, letter of intent, and school transcripts. If you have limited experience in art, but can show us a strong school track record, desire to learn, and a good sense of professionalism, you could still have a chance at being accepted. Applicants with totally inadequate applications would simply be suggested to enroll in our part-time or summer intensives, or take some art classes to help them get ready for VanArts. Our staff is always willing to give guidance in this area. Once you apply, your application is still kept on file for 1 year, and if you are asked to submit a new portfolio, no other application materials need to be re-submitted.
Basically, what you are telling us in your portfolio is, "This material represents my experience, my interests, and my skill level. This is who I am right now as an artist." In a nutshell, don't let your lack of experience keep you from applying! Just send us what you CAN do, and let VanArts take care of the rest.