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Graphic Design portfolio guidance

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 Your portfolio plays a key role for determining your suitability to study Graphic Design or Graphic Design (Illustration) at De Montfort University (DMU) and should be a reflection of the breadth of your capabilities as well as an insight into your interests and skills as an illustrator or designer.

Your portfolio should highlight your potential to be a visual communicator and although we don’t expect you to be exceptional in all the areas outlined in this guide, we want you to demonstrate which studios, agencies and practitioners inspire you the most.

This guidance outlines specific aspects for applicants to consider whilst preparing their portfolio, as well specific requirements that we hope to see in your portfolio for each of the specialist Graphic Design course.

What are we looking for?

Portfolio advice

Hear from Subject Group Leader Dan Morley and our other creative design academics as they share their top tips for what to include in your portfolio.

From all applicants

  • Someone who has a passion for the subject – a portfolio that evidences you are an engaged, knowledgeable and intriguing creative person.
  • Idea generation and novel thinking – someone who will push boundaries and create the unexpected
  • The questioning of conventions – we are looking for individuals with the potential to develop their own unique approaches to design problems, without relying on traditional conventions.
  • An experimental approach to handling materials – design is much more than a pencil and a computer, so show us your innovative use of materials
  • Evidence of a design process – we want to see more than final pieces, please show us your whole process from the very beginning – from brainstorms to creation

From Graphic Design applicants

  • A range of imaging and layout skills – you must show evidence of a range of core visualisation skills; from photography and drawing to typography and editorial design

From Graphic Design (Illustration) applicants

  • A range of drawing skills – you must show evidence of a range of core imaging skills; from the refined, to the experimental, and include examples of life drawing and objective drawing

Your application

Once you have made an application for your chosen Graphic Design course, you will then be required to submit an online portfolio of high-quality, scanned or digital work in a PDF format and send it to www.mailbigfile.com/dmuac with your full name and course title. The content of your portfolio should be the strongest examples of your work, and should contain a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 20 pieces; file size under 10 MB is essential.

Your PDF portfolio will then be reviewed by our experienced course academics, and we may contact you for further work if necessary. A decision will then be made whether you will be offered a place to study on your chosen course.


Design process


 

As part of your portfolio review, we will be looking for evidence of creativity, questioning, intent and empathy with the subject and audience, and how you use a design process to work towards a conclusion.

Please show us examples of your process from the very beginning to the finished piece. Include evidence that you enjoy making and using materials to prototype your ideas, as we are keen to see your experiments with materials outside of your sketchbook.


Sketchbooks

 

We are looking for evidence of questioning, intent to communicate effectively, and to see how you develop an idea. We would also like to see how you use your sketchbook process to research, explore and question visual language.

We are keen to see your full projects from concept generation, testing and prototyping, to the final outcome, and for you to demonstrate how you research and respond to a given brief. Make sure you have a project in your portfolio that demonstrates creativity, a deep involvement in your work and a conclusion or final idea.

We do not expect this to be world-class or award-winning, we just want to see range in your creative skills, for example skills in:

  • Typography
  • Editorial/layout design
  • Drawing/sketching
  • Image making
  • Image manipulation
  • Traditional printing
  • Photography
  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • InDesign
  • Stop-frame animation
  • Digital animation
  • Interactive design
  • UX/UI Design

Graphic Design

We would like to see more examples of engaging type and image relationships, with a focus on experimental typography, the development of unique visual languages, problem solving and empathy with an audience.

Graphic Design (Illustration)

We would like to see more creative drawing and image making within your portfolio, to showcase your illustrative voice and have a clear indication as to the type of creative practitioner you are.

 

Typography and layout


Your portfolio should contain examples of typography, lettering and editorial/layout design, from typesetting a magazine spread to experimental typeface design, digital and sketches - the more diverse, the better. We are particularly interested in how you marry type and image and the relationships they form.

Do not be afraid to include your rough ‘idea generation’ sketches. We know that they are not the final pieces and may not look as finished or neat as a final design, but they are an insight into how you think and creatively solve problems, and this is an important part of the creative process.

Drawing and image making

Your portfolio should contain examples of drawing and image making in the broadest sense, from life drawing to experimental design sketches, photography and collage - the more diverse, the better. We are particularly interested in drawing based on objective study, colour and tone.

Again, do not be afraid to include your rough ‘idea generation’ sketches. We know that they are not the final pieces and may not look as finished or neat as a final design, but they are an insight into how you think and creatively solve problems, and this is an important part of the creative process.

This part of the portfolio is particularly important for Graphic Design (Illustration) applicants, as it helps to further demonstrate your illustrative and image making talents.

Submit your portfolio

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