BFA Industrial Design Application Portfolio

I’m a mechanical engineer trying to get into a design school with the goal of earning a BFA in Industrial Design. I’m looking at CCS mostly because it’s so close to home. My goal is to enroll in the fall 2007 semester.

My one hang-up is my portfolio – I don’t have one and I don’t know what to put in one. I’ve seen a lot of portfolios from people who have graduated with a BFA in ID and are looking for a job in ID, but I haven’t found any examples of industrial design school application portfolios.

Up until recently, I haven’t taken any art classes since freshman year of high school (9 years ago). Since deciding that Industrial Design is what I really want to do I have devoted myself to getting a portfolio together. Right now, I’m taking a basic drawing class at night at CCS. The teacher in this class has told me that I really have the talent and feel for form, texture, shape, etc. to get into the ID program there. I am planning on taking some classes for credit at the local community college next semester (starting in January) – drawing, design, and figure drawing are on my list. I also bought a few books to guide me along on my free time (Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, The Natural Way to Draw). I’m in to photography as well, so I have a large base of work there – mostly landscapes, travel, nature, animals, etc.

My question is: What should I include in my application portfolio? Would the basic drawings of gourds, stuffed animals and blocks I’m doing in beginning art classes be good enough? Should I come up with some basic product designs and include those drawings? Could I include any of my photographs or would ID programs prefer sketches and drawings? CCS wants 10-20 pieces in an application portfolio – if you were applying as a freshman ID student what would you include?

I had the typical highschool stuff of still lifes, portraites from like, in paint, and some in pencil, but I also had 4 or 5 concept renderings… I had the book “Design and Rendering Techniques” by Dick Powell and I practically had that thing memorized I had studied it so much… page 32 was pretty darn good…

You should keep on working on stuff, and at the same time, compile the stuff you’ve already done. Most places want around 10-15 pieces for an undergrad portfolio. One thing you might want to do is see if Portfolio Day is coming by your area anytime soon. It’s pretty much a college fair but with only art schools, and the whole point is you can go and show some representatives from the school what’s in your portfolio and they can give you feedback on what to add and all that. In some cases, the school will accept your portfolio on the spot as done for the application. You can find out more about Portfolio Days at the National Portfolio Day Association website:

Oh yeah…make sure you show up early to the portfolio days if you go, the lines and waits can be really really long.

The portfolio days are great for feedback, some schools like Pratt used to admit you on the spot, others will give you an idea if you are in th zone and what you can improve on… good call Great Divide

Hi everyone; I have a similar inquiry. I’m a high school senior getting ready to apply to university and am having trouble deciding what to send in the portfolio or if the things I have are relevant. I’ve become very set on pursing an education in industrial design but to this point don’t have any related work, though maybe I do.

Here’s some background information:
For the last few years I’ve been doing lots of graphic design, photography, and things of that nature. I’ve got a few big software interface projects under my belt as well as print work, websites, and a book I wrote and designed about digital SLR cameras. Though I can’t say I’m a master at drawing, I have taken drawing classes and do have some things from there.

Okay, here’s the question:
Do you think these things would be relevant in an industrial design portfolio, as they focus on usability and composition? I would be quite disappointed if they weren’t, as these works greatly illustrate my attention to detail and how I’ve progressed through the years gaining motivation, which I’ve now compiled into the goal of being an industrial designer.

I’ve been reading over Yo’s advice and have taken up looking at books to learn sketching techniques, so I might be able to fit some other things in as well. Thanks for your input.


EDIT: Just got a letter about a Portfolio Day happening November 5th in my area. This is fate.

Most likely your first year of college will be some kind of "foundation’ year full of life drawing, 2d and 3d color and form classes, and art history. This gives everyone the same building blocks to start from.

So, long story short, as long as you submit a portfolio that exhibits what raw talent you have (polished as best you can) you should do pretty good. It sounds like you have been doing a lot of great stuff and won’t have a problem. How’s the GPA? What schools are you looking at?

GPA is 3.4. I’m looking at UC and SCAD for sure and am thinking of finding something international as well. I’ve read over a lot on this forum but it hasn’t really helped me find any more colleges to choose from (though it took RISD off my list). Any other recommendations?


Check out CIA and CCS as well…

Have you looked into AAU in San Fran?

It hasn’t most likely because there simply aren’t that many to choose from.

Check out these two lists:

you can surf through student portfolios in that link which is an awesome feature