Author: Laraib Qasim

Prepping for Architecture school applications can be stressful. The expectations are always high and it is very easy to fall down a loophole of comparing your work to others and feeling bad about your work. Being unsure, and feeling like you do not have the skillset can be really exhausting. It happens to the best of us, so worry not, you have come to the right place. Continue reading for a step-by-step guide for how to prepare your portfolio for architecture school applications. 

Step 1: Enrolling in the Architecture Portfolio Preparation’s class at Love Fun Art

At Love Fun Art, we offer classes that can help you prepare a fully ready to submit architecture portfolio. We have professionals with years of teaching experience in the architecture industry as well as working architects who can guide you to create exactly what schools are looking for when they review student applications. We work on applications within Canada, USA and the UK. We are always looking for new enthusiastic students to join our classes. Our classes offered are fun, easy going, and flexible to work around your schedule. We accommodate students enrolling close to the application deadlines as well as well in advance. See the link for more details and sign up today!

Step 2: Look at the school’s admissions and portfolio requirements 


Start off by looking at which schools you are most interested in applying to. Once you have a short list, go on the school’s websites and look at their admissions requirements. Specifically scroll to their portfolio requirements to get an understanding of what the school is looking for. Something which is also helpful in doing your research is reaching out to someone from the faculty to get advice, attending information sessions offered by the school, and following them on their social media pages to keep up to date on the types of work current students are producing. You can never go wrong with too much research. It is better to know everything then to not know enough. Doing full research will really help you shape your portfolio, and your chances of getting accepted will also be higher. 

Step 3: Gather Inspiration


The next thing you want to do is start off a pinterest board or a folder in your computer where you start to gather all types of inspirations photos of works by other artists or architects. Some great tools for gathering inspiration include pinterest, behance, issuu, and visiting websites of different architecture firms from around the world. Having some artists and architects who inspire you is also helpful because it tailors your research in a focused area. For portfolio purposes, some good inspiration to collect includes, color palettes, fonts, types of architecture projects, layout and organization of portfolio pages. You should spend a good amount of time collecting this information and developing a language for your portfolio because this is what you will be referring back to again and again as you continue to work. These inspiration folders can grow throughout the process of creating your portfolio. 

Step 4: Set up an Indesign or Illustrator file 

Adobe suites architecture

Once you have all your inspiration folders ready, and you can somewhat envision what your portfolio might look like, you can start to put together a layout of the file. Good softwares to use are Illustrator and InDesign. Illustrator is good for creating drawings and illustrations, and is also flexible in terms of moving things around the page, however InDesign is the most commonly used software for portfolio preparations because it is quicker to work with, allows you to set margins easily and is also good at reducing your overall file size. When setting up your file, you want to make sure margins align on all pages as this is probably the most important thing. When the admissions committee is scrolling through your work, the last thing they want to do is see images jumping around on all pages and having no consistency. Consistency really is key here. The next thing you want to do is have set locations for placement of images on title pages, and have a font language that you will be using throughout. This would also be the time to introduce any color to your overall portfolio template. By the end of this, your file should have everything it needs except for images and text of your actual work. 

Step 5: Gather some existing Art and Architecture projects and make them better


Existing project

Next, you should look back at all the work you have created in the past and collect it all in one place. Go through everything one by one and pick out your strongest pieces of work that you want to include. Once you have done that, you can then go ahead and start to edit these works to match the standard you want to achieve for your portfolio. Sometimes making entirely new drawings helps and other times, making small changes can go a long way in terms of effectively communicating your design work. When making amendments to your work, keep in mind that you want to be showing work which holds meaning and conveys your initial design intents. You can show 10 images of the same thing and have it mean nothing, but have 1 image and have it mean everything. Quality over quantity is key here. 

Step 6: Create some new projects 

Once you are done sorting through all your old work, take a look at everything and see if you should add more work. 99% of the time, you will want to add new exciting work into your portfolio. The teachers at Love Fun Art can help you prepare new projects that match your inspiration themes and are also good design works in general. These new projects should represent you as a designer, and communicate everything that you are passionate about. 

Step 7: Write short project descriptions

Once you are satisfied with the amount and quality of the work produced, you should focus your attention on writing descriptions for each project. Now don't go off writing essays explaining what your project is about. It is important to keep the text descriptions short (1-2 paragraphs) so that the admissions committee actually feels comfortable reading it. If it is too long, chances are they will just skim over it, and that will have an impact on them fully understanding who you are as a designer. Keep them short and to the point. In your descriptions, mention your idea, your thought process, how you tackled any issues you encountered and what the overall exploration was. 

Step 8: Pick the order of your projects for your portfolio 

Remember, a good portfolio tells a story about you as a designer. Your work should be presented in a manner where every page adds to the previous page. As a whole, it should dance to its own rhythm. A general understanding is to kick your portfolio off with the strongest project, and end it off with a strong project as well. The order for the projects in between is also important. You never want to have the reviewer be bored looking at your work. Your work should be engaging, and flow smoothly through the entirety of your portfolio. Overall, your work should have a balance of completed works, progress works, your thought process, and hand-on works (i.e. 3d models, sculptures, paintings etc.)

Step 9: Review everything

This is an important step! Double check and then triple check your work. Look for any errors, and typos, and most importantly look to make sure all margins are aligning and as you skip through pages, nothing feels out of place. It always helps to have a fresh pair of eyes look at your work. They might be able to point out something that you were not seeing. Ask a friend to proofread all your descriptions. Look to make sure all images are pasted in correctly. When you are done checking everything, check one more time before submitting. 

Step 10: Hit that submit button! 

Alas, the time to submit has arrived. Your anxiety rises, you start to panic a little bit, doubt kicks in. “Did I do everything correctly?” 

“Did I miss something?”

 “Are there any errors?” 

“Is my work even good enough?”

Relax. If you follow the steps listed above, then you are in good shape. Scan everything one last time, make sure your PDF export is not too large. Look at the portfolio submission requirements for the school you are applying to, and upload your portfolio. Fill out the rest of your application, pay any processing fees, and hit that submit button. You did it. Congratulations! The only thing left to do now, is wait, stay optimistic, and hope for the best possible outcome. Whether you get accepted or not is up to the admissions committee but you should be content with the hard work you have put into your portfolio. And know that even if things do not go the way you wanted them to, it probably wasn't right for you and there is something better waiting for you.