Or how to become a page designer
In the middle of their Foundation year in Art and Design, students need to prepare and submit a portfolio of their projects to the BA courses of their choice, but doing a portfolio requires a series of methods that belong integrally to a graphic design practice as it mostly requires layout and composition skills. A visual eye needs to be trained in only a few months to be able to structure a strong page with images, headlines and texts. In the process, students will learn to work with design principles such as scale, hierarchy, direction, texture, colour, typography while thinking about their pages’ narrative. Not only the form or style of the portfolio is important but, more importantly, its content.
Two or three projects are presented one after the other, starting with the initial stages of research, then the project development and finally its outcome. Unveiling the process in its details show the students’ creative and reflective skills as well as their capacity to cope with the expectations of a BA course. Pages need to be clear, visually interesting and connected to each other as they tell a student’s creative journey. Such pages can be done manually by layering different bits of images and textures to be later digitalised, or they can be directly done digitally with programs such as InDesign, Photoshop or Procreate. As tutor, correcting the pages would require looking at each page, restructuring the way information is displayed by sketching thumbnails or marking changes with a pen directly on the printed page, considering what is relevant and visually attractive.
In the first weeks of portfolio making sessions, it is useful for the students to gather up around a large table to share their first two or three pages done, look at each other’s work and give post-it feedback. Discussion can then be initiated by the tutors asking to the students which pages they liked and why. Another good exercise for later on in the course is to put students in pairs, one acting a supposed interviewer and another being the actual student, as if both were performing a real admission interview. Five to eight questions are given to them to practice together with each other’s portfolio pages. Performers are joined by other students as external observers who judge the quality of the exchange.