This annual event brings prospective art students together with art and design college representatives from across the country.
This annual event brings prospective art students together with art and design college representatives from across the country.

Earlier this month, eager art college hopefuls flooded MCAD's halls and classrooms to share their portfolios of work with art college representatives from across the country.

National Portfolio Day is an annual event that was created in 1978 in an effort to ease the path for prospective students into an art education. The open event takes place every fall in art schools all around the country, including right here at MCAD.

This year, over the span of four hours, MCAD's Main Building was packed with aspiring artists and designers filing in and out of classrooms. College representatives from more than thirty art and design schools were on campus to meet with young artists, view and give feedback on their portfolios of work, and share information about their respective schools. MCAD, being the host school, had the largest share of counselors and faculty in the building. I checked in with some of them to get their opinion on this year's proceedings.

How is the event going so far?
Natasha Pestich: It’s going pretty good; there is some really imaginative work.
Julie Van Grol: It’s been going pretty well. It’s my first time doing portfolio day. All of a sudden, I blinked and it’s three o’clock! But it is super interesting because, being at MCAD, I haven’t interacted with high school folks for a while.

How is the student work this year?
Barbara Schulz: It's really good. They’re all very enthusiastic and they’re all very prepared to do this.
Natasha: I haven’t done this event in a couple years. And you know, usually when you’re looking at high school work it’s a mix, like you would expect. But there are some students here who are really developing their own worlds and their own philosophies, or tackling political issues, and that’s really great.

What is looking at everyone’s work like?
Julie: Super interesting. All of it is impressive and they’re all really nice—I want the world for all of them.

In one of the fourth-floor classrooms, students lined up for feedback from the Cooper Union, one of the leading art schools in the country. I spoke with their representative, Nyeema Morgan, who is an adjunct instructor.

How are the reviews going so far? What do you think of the student work?
Nyeema: It’s good. The work is a mixed bag. We have people who are juniors, people who are seniors. I see people who are just motivated by school, and I also see students who are more self-motivated—they’re kind of doing this on their own; the latter tends to be the more interesting work, because the commitment isn’t motivated by external forces but is coming from within.


I also chatted with some of the prospective students themselves, since I wanted to hear their opinion on the portfolio reviews and whether they were helpful or not—

Kristina: It was so helpful because I had so much work and I had no idea what to put in my portfolio or what they were all looking for. I feel like talking to all the different representatives helped me wrap my head around what each school wants and also how to make my portfolio more focused.

Carter: Waited in line, heard some good things, heard some bad things . . .

Bethy: It’s going really well. I was really nervous to come here today but I’m glad I did.

Katie: So much waiting.

Sam: A lot of them said I need to push darker tones in my work. I brought a lot of drawings. They just thought I need to be more decisive with them.

Bailey: It’s “going,” you know.

Naomi: Some of them liked my stuff and some of them weren’t so impressed. I’ll probably end up going to MCAD or Milwaukee Institute.

Sarah: I only talked to MICA so far, but yeah it was helpful!

Omar:  I got a lot of feedback on my proportions and how I use negative space. So yeah, for sure. It was definitely helpful.

In addition to the many high school students interested in heading straight for an art education, a small group from the Alexandria Technical and Community College came to MCAD in search of feedback and a desire to see what an art college was like, since they were considering transferring.

The four students had made the two-hour drive to Minneapolis earlier the same day, and were giddy about getting the opinions of art school representatives from all over the country. I spoke with them about their hopes for the day and future plans.

Colton: I've always been interested in graphic design and illustration, but I haven't had any formal training since high school. My childhood dream is to go to CalArts, so I'm very excited to see what they say about my work and to get feedback on what I can do to make it better. 

Amanda: I'm also into graphic design and illustration, and maybe eventually getting into art therapy. None of us have had any formal art training since high school, so I think we're all just excited to get some feedback on our work. I'm really enjoying seeing MCAD as well, I'm thinking about transferring somewhere after two years at Alexandria and MCAD is definitely a good option.

Carli: I just want to hear what others have to say about my artwork. It's been a while since I've had an art class. 

Savanna: Last year I was interested in biology, so I have no idea where I'll be a year from now; I'm just looking around and seeing what art college life is like! 


Overall the consensus seemed to be that it was a great day full of excitement, creative energy, and helpful guidance on the next steps toward attending an art and design college. Thanks to all who attended and made this such a successful event.