National Portfolio Day

Students attend National Portfolio Day at Mesa Community College on Dec. 3. Photo courtesy of National Portfolio Day.

Students from all over Arizona gathered at Mesa Community College located off Southern and Dobson on Dec. 3 to show off their portfolios to art college admission officers. Those who merited a four or better on their portfolio had the chance to be accepted to a university of their choice and also receive a scholarship on the spot. For many kids, National Portfolio Day offers a costless opportunity to gain a lifetime of experience in the arts.

Through a collaboration of accredited university professors and alumni, National Portfolio Day was created in 1978 to open the doors for young art students. All colleges that attend National Portfolio Day are accredited members of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Though the school selection varies from state to state, Arizona opened its doors to schools such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Otis College of Art and Design, Cornish College of the Arts and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.

“I was so excited to visit with all of the colleges attending,” junior and AP Art student Michaela Brown said. “I took the opportunity to speak with my colleges of interest and show them my art to see which school best suited my style.”

Many students work all year to come up with a portfolio that they are proud of and show their unique style. Schools look for art that is not only conceptually superior but also creative and technically sound.

“They are usually looking for students who seem to know what they want, students that have good observational skills and are drawing from life. They also want to see some conceptual/creative skills in a student,” AP Art Studio teacher Mr. Graves said. “If a student possesses these two skill sets, they will be ahead of the rest of the field and have much better chances for success at art school.”

National Portfolio Day goes everywhere from Paris to D.C., so if students want to set themselves apart they should show up early with prepared pieces and self-confidence. Some students attend National Portfolio Day their junior or even sophomore year.

“Be bold, because fortune favors the bold.  Be able to accept the negative criticism of your work, because it is likely to happen at a place like portfolio day. They will not just lie and say your work looks great—they give honest, and awesome critiques,” Graves said. “It could change your life, your future could depend on it. It could even be one of the best decisions and days of your life.”

For more information about National Portfolio Day and future dates, visit

(Featured photo derivative of photo by Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons )