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Portfolios: The Horrors!

Harper Lahde (24’), also known as Plu. “P”
for Plu.
Alex Plette
Harper Lahde (24’), also known as Plu. “P” for Plu.

For those of us with career goals in the vast field of visual arts, there is an additional challenge added to already-daunting college applications: an art portfolio. I (FO) found myself on a metaphorical journey while creating mine, but then a physical one to San Francisco, seeking professional criticism at National Portfolio Day. Though my portfolio is in a good place now, it wasn’t a smooth trek getting there. Wishing to confirm that I was not the only lost applicant, I spoke to senior Harper Lahde about some of her experiences with the process.

FO: Hi, Harper. First off, tell me a little about the major you’ve applied for and the career you hope to obtain with it.

HL: Okay! I’m applying as a Lighting Design student. Ideally, I’ll design lighting for stage productions — things like concerts, movies, TV.

FO: That’s so cool. What have you been asked to include in your portfolio?

HL: I’ve been asked for pictures and videos of lighting I’ve done for school shows, as well as plot designs and concept art. Some schools even require ten-minute long interviews where I explain my work.

FO: Oh, that’s kind of annoying.

HL: I know, right?

FO: How has it been navigating all of this on top of the typical application process, schoolwork, and extracurriculars?

HL: Just so stressful. I have to do all the regular stuff, plus this additional, super time-consuming step. Even figuring out how to document my work has been difficult. Each school has different requirements, too, which is just evil.

FO: Agreed. It is quite evil. My last question for you is what on-campus assistance do you think would have made this all a bit easier?

HL: *sigh* It’s hard to say. Our school counselors are great, but understandably can’t critique art portfolios. I think library workshops would have been helpful. Like smaller, on-campus versions of National Portfolio Day where we’d get feedback on our work.

FO: So true. Any advice to juniors, sophomores, and freshmen who are likely scared to apply to art schools after reading this?

HL: Start now!

FO: Oh, yeah.

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Fifi Omer, Layout & Photography Editor
Alex Plette, Layout & Photography Editor

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