Looking at a sketchbook over the shoulder of a student wearing a striped top web

Our Journal

Top Tips on Building a Creative Portfolio

Wondering how to get started on your portfolio? Check out our top tips on how to best showcase your work for university and college applications.

When you apply for a course at Arts University Plymouth, you’ll be asked to share a portfolio of your work (it's not as scary as it sounds!). This is your chance to show us your creative identity, what you're passionate about, and for us to help guide you to the course that’s right for you.

A portfolio is a collection of your creative work that you believe best represents the range of your talent, development, and ideas.

It might include:

  • A curated collection of 2D artwork, paintings, drawings, moodboards, or photographs
  • A showreel of moving image, animation, music, or digital drawings.
  • 3D work, or samples of fabric designs, costumes and prop ideas.
  • Written samples of your work, such as essays, scripts or storyboards.

The important thing is that it says something about you and your creative interests.

Remember - we are genuinely excited to see your work. Reviewing student portfolios can be the highlight of my week, I can think of nothing better than looking at ideas and imagery from the next generation of creatives that could be joining us at AUP.
Mel Brown, Assistant Dean

A portfolio can include initial ideas and incomplete work, as well as finished pieces. We want to get to know you, the way you develop ideas, and what inspires you, as well as your skills and creative potential.

We recommend having no more than 20 pieces of work as part of your portfolio. All work presented should be your own work. Where work has been made as part of a crew or a group project, it’s good to describe clearly what your contribution was.

A professional photographer looks at a student portfolio web
  1. Be selective and reflective, you don’t need to include everything you’ve ever done. Curate the story you want to tell us, and let your personality and passion shine through.

  2. Show your versatility! If you can, include a broad range of your skills and work.

  3. Showcase your strengths - prioritise quality over quantity.

  4. Do not underestimate the creative value of sketches, doodles, or unfinished work. Often this work tells us the most about your potential as an art, design, or media practitioner.

  5. Put your work in the order you want us to view it. If you attend an applicant day, we might ask you to discuss it with us so be ready to tell us a bit about the work you’ve included.


Check out our portfolio poster for more advice on how to create a portfolio.
Don't worry if your portfolio is mostly one type of artwork, you can still apply for any of our courses, even if you haven't had a chance to try out the specific techniques of that discipline. Being able to look through your portfolio and see your creative potential in the work is more important than seeing perfect examples of finished work.
Lucy Leake, Assistant Dean

You will be invited to submit your portfolio digitally by sharing a link with us. You can choose to present your portfolio in a number of different formats.

For example, you might convert your portfolio into a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation, a PDF, a Canva presentation, or you might send us a link to a website, blog, YouTube or Vimeo film. Alternatively, you can send us an image file, sound file, video file, or an alternative digital format.*

Once your digital portfolio is ready, we ask that you complete our portfolio submission form. We normally review all portfolios within 7 days of receipt.

If you would prefer to submit your portfolio in-person, you can bring your portfolio along with you to one of our Applicant Experience Days. You will receive an invite to book on to one of these via email.

We base our decisions on the work you show us and your creative potential - we know that you are much more than your qualifications, and will make sure that your application is considered fairly.

*The file types we accept are:

Images: bmp, gif, jpg, jpeg, png

Audio: mp3, mp4, ogg, wav, wma

Video: avi, mp4, mpg, mpeg, mkv, mov, WMV.


Have any questions? Contact our friendly team at hello@aup.ac.uk or WhatsApp us on 07722744184.