Requirements by Major

Your portfolio is the single most important aspect of your application. Your portfolio must be oriented specifically to the one major for which you are applying.


Advertising majors should demonstrate innovative thinking with words and images to promote products or ideas through ads. Work should demonstrate a fresh, original way of looking at things, possibly incorporating humor or other means by which the public's attention is drawn to the ad. Your advertising portfolio work should be clean, clear and well presented, but spend the majority of your time coming up with interesting, sharp, original, I-never-would-have-thought-of-that ads. The quality of your thinking is more important than the finish.

If you have previous experience in advertising, submit eight to 10 print advertising concepts. These should demonstrate your facility with both copy (words) and visuals. Include preliminary sketches demonstrating your idea-generation process. If you've worked in video or other media, include those as well.

If you have no previous experience in advertising, submit at least five pieces that demonstrate your ability to represent your ideas visually. In addition, we've created assignments to help you demonstrate your potential for advertising. Select three or four assignments from suggestions below or submit assignments of your own devising. Create these through drawings, photography, photo-collage, digital images or any combination of these.

    • Select one or more existing print ads and recreate them. Make them better.
    • Create a print campaign that sells you to ArtCenter.
    • Design a campaign to teach teens the importance of staying in school.
    • Go to a hardware store and pick up 10 paint color chips. Cross out the names, and rename the colors. All the names must relate to sleep.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Entertainment Design

There are two individual tracks within the Entertainment Design program.

Your portfolio will vary depending on the track you choose. Read the instructions below for the track to which you are applying.

Concept Design

Concept design involves the full range of storytelling, from developing the characters to the architecture, landscape, animals, vehicles and objects in the world of that story. The task of a concept designer for the entertainment industry is to be able to provide an infinite number of design variations of characters, environments, vehicles and props for stories taking place in the past, present or future.

Your admissions portfolio should reflect this interest and provide an example of your current abilities toward this task. Include examples of your original design ideas created for a story of your invention or an existing story. Your main focus should be in the creation of original designs that are well communicated through drawings and renderings.

Examples of your range of skills in the designing of all four of the major subject topics, environments, characters, vehicles and props should be included in your portfolio. Please include both the early concept design sketches and more finished renderings of your design ideas. It is important to show your thinking process through a range of sketches and renderings that progress from rough to more finished. Emphasis should be placed more on well-drawn original design variations. Sketchbooks are a welcome addition, and can be included as one PDF. In addition, please include at least 5 figure drawings from a live model.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Character Animation

The task of a character animator in the entertainment industry is to breathe life into the animated characters that populate the story worlds of feature animation, live action film, TV, commercials and games. Character animators are equal parts artists, designers and performers. Your admissions portfolio should reflect this interest and provide an example of your current abilities toward this task.

Whether you are presenting your previous work or creating original work for the portfolio, please include the following elements:

A short, simple paragraph that details a storyline for an animated narrative.

At least two characters associated with that storyline, each presented in a series of emotive sketches and/or renderings that depict the character in critical and dramatic points in your storyline. Use these drawings to convey the movements, expressions, attitudes and idiosyncrasies that express the character’s personality within the context of the storyline.

At least five keyframes from your storyline, depicting your characters in critical, dramatic, narrative moments throughout the story’s arc. These drawings should convey a sense for the aesthetic considerations surrounding the characters, including environments and objects.

A one-minute video of you performing one of the characters you have presented. Use your body, gesture, facial expressions and movement to bring the character to life through your performance. Consider using both wide shots and close-ups, where necessary, to capture your performance. No consideration for costume, setting, or dialogue is necessary.

At least six figure drawings from a live model that include both gestural and more developed pieces.

Sketchbooks are also encouraged and we recommend a limit of 10 to 15 sketchbook pages submitted as one PDF.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Environmental Design

Submit a minimum of three spatially or 3D-oriented projects that show solutions to a specific spatial design challenge. These should include drawings and sketches, along with photographs of models that demonstrate an understanding of 3D space, technical skills and design sensibility.

Examples of work may include interior design, furniture design, lighting design, set design and architectural design projects. Limited examples of drafting or technical drawing are acceptable, but must be accompanied by 3D representations. Applicants will be considered for their design concepts, as well as basic drawing and model-making skills.

A descriptive paragraph explaining the design concept and solution should be included with each project submitted. Quantity is not as important as quality. For instructions on submitting your work, follow the submission options in How to Submit Your Work.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.


Submit at least two completed film or video projects that demonstrate your visual narrative storytelling abilities as a filmmaker. The total running time of the work you submit should be at least five minutes but should not exceed 20 minutes.

Submitted work can include short films of any genre, documentaries, or multiple commercials or music videos, but all work must demonstrate your narrative storytelling abilities. Your work should also demonstrate competency in cinematography, lighting, staging, editing and sound. At least one of your projects should employ sync sound.

Submit only projects on which you played a key creative role as director, cinematographer or editor; be sure to clearly indicate the role you played on each project. Portfolio work is only accepted via link to Vimeo. You can email your link to Be sure to include your full name in the email. In the written statement accompanying your application, keep in mind that we are particularly interested in learning what inspires you to make films, what sorts of films you want to make and a brief description of your favorite filmmakers.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Fine Art

Include a representative selection of your work in any media. In addition to submitting examples of foundation skills that demonstrate particular abilities, it’s important to also present personal work that reveals experimentation.

Work can include all forms of drawing, representational and nonobjective painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, film, video and installation documentation. Conceptual work and artist statements are also welcome; include your statement as part of the application. You can also include 10 to 15 of the best pages from your sketchbook as one PDF.

Students seeking the Illustration minor should include figure drawing from a live model.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Graphic Design

Include layouts or comprehensives for projects such as posters, brochures, editorial design, package design, motion graphics, web design and identity systems. Pieces that exhibit a grasp of an issue, an individual point of view, or a unique approach to a problem are helpful. Evidence of an understanding of—and a passion for—typography is a must.

Provide process work that shows the development of the chosen idea and various solutions. Samples of logotypes, lettering, life drawing and general color and design assignments should be included. A combination of finished pieces and sketches is desirable. If submitted work has been produced, provide an explanation of the role played in the creation of the work (overall design, production only, etc.).

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.


Submit 10 to 15 figure drawings from a live model that include both gestural and more developed pieces. Other observational drawings from life are also required such as self-portraits or portraits of others, sketches of animals and scenes from nature and cityscapes. Include imaginative drawings that demonstrate your passion for and understanding of illustration in both color and black and white.

Submit three or more pieces that highlight drawing or painting skills, and show the development of a story or concept. Sketchbooks that display a range of interests and skills are welcome and we recommend a limit of 10 to 15 sketchbook pages submitted as one PDF.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Interaction Design

Interaction Design is the study and craft of how people interact with products, systems and services. It is about shaping digital things for people’s use. Submissions, therefore, should demonstrate a keen interest in user experience, along with your personal creativity and vision.

Equal parts thinker and maker, Interaction Design candidates should provide at least three projects that incorporate the following:

    • Projects that demonstrate interactivity and are screen-based or physical objects, or both. Each project should include a statement or explanation, sketches that show the development of your ideas, followed by a more finished rendition of your final concept.
    • Examples of screen-based projects include: mobile or social applications, web sites, gestural interfaces, and games.
    • Examples of physical projects include consumer electronics, smart products, art or environmental projects. If you have previously worked on collaborative projects that have made it to production, include a statement about your role in the design and any URLs, working versions, videos or multiple images that show how your interactive project works. Your overall goal should be to include examples of work that exhibit an understanding of—and a passion for—user experience.
    • Including your process work is an important way for you to show the development of a chosen idea and how you arrived at your solution. Process work can include: sketching, user flows, personas, wireframes and screen shots or mockups. While supporting written explanations are an essential element of your projects, your visual representations should be the primary way you express your ideas.

If you have no previous experience in Interaction Design, consider one or more of the following ideas for a project to include with other examples of your design work.

  • Redesign an existing web site, mobile app, or other interfaces and make it better and more user-friendly. Show the elements of your re-design through drawings, photography, photo-collage, digital images or any combination of these. Include a wireframe layout through simple line sketches.
  • Identify a particular challenge in everyday life and design an app that specifically addresses that need. Demonstrate through sketches.
  • Design the interface for a piece of hardware (electronic product) that utilizes technology or interfaces in a new and innovative way. Provide sketches and final ideas.
  • Redesign an old and obsolete consumer item using modern technology and interfaces to make it relevant for today’s world. Include an image of the original along with your sketches for the new design.

All applicants should feel free to include other examples of your art and design work such as drawings, graphic design or any sort of personal work.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Photography and Imaging

Submit a minimum of 25 black-and-white, color or digital images. Any combination of these is acceptable, but submitting only black-and-white work is discouraged. Include related contact sheets when applicable.

The works should reflect a connection between idea and technique and display the applicant’s strengths in implementing an original vision.

A variety of subjects and concept exploration are encouraged, but should include shots of people as subject matter. The work should show an ability to create original imagery.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Product Design

Submit sketches and finished drawings of three or more original product designs (furniture, lighting, medical and computer equipment, or consumer products such as coffee makers, sporting goods, communications devices or personal stereos). Each project should be grouped as a separate PDF.

Emphasis should be on the function of the product, as well as the aesthetics and originality of the design. Projects should show a thorough researching and exploration of a product from beginning through intermediate sketches to a final finished rendering of the product.

Inclusion of photos of 3D models is optional. Of primary importance are exploratory sketches that show a variety of solutions and ideas for each product presented. Sketchbook pages should be scanned and grouped in a single PDF.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Transportation Design

Portfolio submissions should demonstrate a passion for and curiosity about the future of transportation, including cars, trucks, public transportation, boats, motorcycles or alternative mobility.

Submit drawings and sketches of your original design concepts, signed and dated. These should represent a variety of types of vehicles with a minimum of four or five projects. Inclusion of designs for non-vehicular products is encouraged as well. Drawing skills should be displayed as the primary means for communication of ideas.

Submit ideas in proper format: title and goal of project, research, audience, preliminary and final sketches.

In addition, submit your required portfolio video/essay.

Take the next step toward a career in art and design