Portfolio Process: College for Art Students

By Elle Waldron

Senior Caleb Wells
Pursuing art in college is not an easy feat. Many students do not know the challenging, yet rewarding, work it entails. Attaining acceptance into art programs or related fields requires hard work, collection of skills, and the council of Northview’s dynamic art teachers. Senior, Caleb Wells credits these teachers for his success.

Wells plans to attend Western Michigan University next fall for Fashion Design. He believes this will help improve his chances for getting into competitive design schools, such as The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, as a transfer. 

Unlike other college applicants, who use essays to demonstrate skills, art students like Wells most often devise a portfolio that depicts 10-15 pieces of their work. Art teacher Tricia Erickson, says portfolios are typically completed by the end of the student’s junior year in order for them to be ready to apply the following school year. 

Fortunately, Grand Rapids has many opportunities for students to further their art education with programs at Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University, Kendall College of Art and Design, and several others.

In spite of the art field often being viewed as uncertain, Erickson and Wells have a more positive outlook on the idea. Erickson suggests that it is actually quite the contrary; demands for jobs in the art field are a favorable circumstance to open up numerous opportunities because education in the arts can be used in so many fields. Regardless of the hard work “I would rather be doing something I enjoy and struggling, than doing something I don’t enjoy and being stable” Wells said. 

“I think the biggest thing you get with an art degree is your ability to think flexibly and be a problem solver.  This is one of the most important skill sets that employers are looking for”  Erickson commented. A good sense of design is difficult for employers to teach and will benefit those who seek employment in many fields. 
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