Your Art Portfolio for Scholastic Art Awards VS. your College Art Portfolios- Whats the difference??

How can you submit an outstanding Art Portfolio for the 2021 Scholastic Art Awards?

Each year many of our students win Scholastic Art Awards and we also hosted the regional Scholastic Art Award judging for many years, where we got to see first hand student submissions and how the judges chose the winners. 

The scholastic art awards offers recognition for students in 7th to12th grade, age 13 or older, in a number of visual arts categories including portfolio which is the only one for seniors only, which is what we’ll focus on in this post.

The Scholastic Art Awards Portfolio Guidelines, a category only open to students in 12th grade, are to submit a portfolio of 6 different art works. The work can come from one of the single categories or any combination of multiple categories. 

You may submit up to two Art Portfolios, but may not submit the same work in both portfolios. And you must also submit a 500 Artist Statement and a 500 word Personal Statement for this category. 

There are differences between what should be submitted for the Scholastic competition and what should be submitted for the college admissions art portfolio requirements. 

The 6 pieces that you submit to Scholastic can be used in your admissions art portfolio, though the work you make for an admissions portfolio should not necessarily be used for your scholastic submission. 

The most obvious difference is the number of pieces that you are submitting to each. Scholastic asks for 6 pieces,12 if you submit two different portfolios, and  each should be specifically curated. 

College admissions asks for students to submit 15- 20 pieces that should be shown as one body of work.  

There are certain types of work that College admissions counselors like to see in your Art Portfolio, that we require each of our students to submit, one of which is observational work- which means to include several works drawn, painted and sculpted directly from life. 

Your Scholastic Art Award Submission on the other hand, should be your top 6 pieces and they should look like they all belong together, you don’t have to include observational work, in fact it can be distracting from your more expressive personal work. 

Over the years when Ashcan hosted the Regional judging for Scholastic Art Awards, looking through all of the scholastic award applicants portfolios, one after the other, we noticed that the judges didn’t think that any of the artists were better than the other, but we noticed that most important and appealing to them was seeing a common thread throughout the 6 pieces submitted. Skill was not paramount, in fact we noticed that some very technically skillful students relied on that and didn’t explore how to make the work their own.

Whether it was obvious or subtle, in the best portfolios, all pieces had a common thread or common theme, try to have at least one element that runs through each piece that you submit in your Art Portfolio. 

 When you are choosing the 6 pieces you are going to use, it’s very important to think about Scholastic Art Awards judging criteria which are:

Originality, which they describe as work that breaks from convention, blurs the boundaries between genres, and challenges notions of how a particular concept or emotion can be expressed. 

Technical skill, which is self explanatory, but does not necessarily mean that you can draw something exactly like it is in real life, though it can. Technical skill can also mean a perfect composition, or outstanding use of color,  and then the third is personal vision or voice.

Be honest with yourself, don’t add anything that does not fit into all three of these descriptions.

Scholastic Art Award judges are all professional artists and art educators- so it’s important to submit work that is genuine, work that you have spent a lot of time on, and work that is about who you really are and reveals what your true interests are- that is the kind of work that has the most impact, and the kind of work that they choose for a Scholastic Art Award.   


Please feel free to contact us to schedule a free consultation or to ask us any questions.

You can sign up for Ashcan Art Portfolio Prep Classes!- Manhattan, Queens, Long Island or Online- ⁠
Intensive, Fine Art, Art Competition & Portfolio, Design, Digital Art & Private Lessons⁠!

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