Graphic Design Portfolio Requirements

Applying to the Program

February 28, 2023 is the deadline to apply for the Fall 2023 intake for Graphic Design. You can apply online. Once your application has been processed you will be asked for transcripts and other supporting documents. You will be assigned a student number and given access to your online account. 

All applicants to the graphic design program are required to develop a portfolio of work. The specifications for the portfolio change from year to year. The portfolio requirements for Fall 2023 admission are posted below. There will be a virtual information session early in January for questions about preparing your portfolio.

RRC Polytech runs a portfolio preparation course called Graphic Design Portfolio Preparation (MUME-1023) each January. The course covers a lot of the projects required for the portfolio and offers insights into our program, but is not mandatory for applicants. Details about the course and online registration is available annually in late October.

International Applicant Early Admission

International applicants are invited to apply and submit their portfolio’s earlier to accommodate visa processing times for program admission. The International early application deadline is November 21, 2022, while the portfolio is due January 4, 2023.  

Graphic Design Information Session On-Demand

Register for our On-Demand Graphic Design Information Session. This event is for future students, their supporters, and individuals who would like more information about the program. This prerecorded information session includes the following:

  • program information 
  • details of the entrance portfolio, and 
  • a chance to hear responses to some questions other future students were asking

Portfolio Requirements

Program Application Deadline: February 28, 2023
Portfolio Submission Deadline: April 20, 2023 at 5pm

The ability to meet deadlines is a crucial skill. Therefore, handing the portfolio in on time is part of the admission process. No portfolios will be accepted after this deadline.

Background

We live in a world that is dependent on effective communication. Graphic design plays a vital role in the process of presenting ideas, information, products and services in a national and global economy. More than ever, industry and commerce require the expert services provided by qualified graphic designers, illustrators, and new media artists.

The aim of the Graphic Design program is to provide up-to-date training in the technology, techniques, and philosophy of graphic design. The training you will receive is geared directly to the needs of the graphic communications industry, locally and nationally.

What we’re looking for

This is a special selection program. To meet the demands of this curriculum, applicants must possess natural aptitude for visual communication, as well as display initiative, persistence, and enthusiasm. We’re looking for people who love to create and are passionate about design. Balancing multiple projects and meeting deadlines is a large part of the program and industry. Completing this portfolio on time demonstrates your ability to meet deadlines and your commitment to the program. We are happy to receive your portfolio any time before the deadline.

Prior training in design and software is helpful but not required for the program. The required portfolio pieces will demonstrate your creativity and versatility in a variety of mediums, your
ability to challenge yourself, and your attention to detail and craftsmanship – all skills required of a successful designer. Pay attention to the specific requirements of each piece as to size, medium, and content. Pieces that do not meet the stated requirement will not be assessed.

Don’t be intimidated: work hard, do your best and try to have fun with this. Show us what you can do!

Before you begin your portfolio

The first step in the application process is to apply to the College through Enrolment Services. Once your application has been processed you will be given a student number and access to your online account. The deadline for application to Red River College Polytechnic is February 28, 2023.

When your portfolio is completed

Portfolios must be submitted to our server by 5pm on April 20, 2023. We encourage applicants to submit work prior to the deadline as portfolios will not be accepted after this deadline regardless of the circumstances. Details on the submission process are at the bottom of this page.

What happens next?

Your portfolio will be evaluated by a panel and assigned a score that reflects your potential for success in the program. If your portfolio score is within the acceptable range you will be invited to attend a mandatory information session in mid May. If your portfolio score does not fall within the acceptable range, your application will be cancelled.

After the information session, offers of admittance will be made to qualified applicants based on portfolio scores in descending order until all available seats are filled. This means not all applicants whose portfolios scores fall within acceptable range and who attended the mandatory information session will be offered a seat.

Applicants not offered a seat may reapply for a future intake by submitting a new application, application fee, and new portfolio based on the portfolio specifications for that application year.

If you have any questions please contact Krista Lawson, Program Coordinator, at klawson@rrc.ca.

See more of what our program offers ›

Portfolio Part A: Written Components

For both written components (Items 1 and 2) type up and format your content neatly, write clearly and pay attention to grammar and spelling.

1. Cover letter

Tell us a little about yourself by answering the three questions below. Before you begin, do some online research on the design industry and explore the various types of work graphic designers do. Keep your answers short (75 to 100 words per question).

  1. Why do you want to study graphic design?
  2. What creative projects have you worked on recently that have inspired you?
  3. Which portfolio piece did you find the most challenging and why?

2. Résumé

Prepare a type written résumé stating your educational background (high school art courses or other art training) and any work experience. Please list your hobbies and interests as well.

Prepare these two items as one file and then save as a pdf for submission.

The written portion of the portfolio will be evaluated on the following: presentation/formatting, industry awareness, grammar and spelling.

Portfolio Part B: Creative Components

PREAMBLE – The importance of drawing.

The ability to communicate successfully in visual terms requires the broadening of powers of perception and response to the world around us.

In the creation of visual images, insight is the important issue. Of particular importance to the designer is the ability to process complex visual information. Drawing from direct observation is the most effective way to develop and demonstrate this ability.

Important Notes

All drawings in the following sections should be done from direct observation. Avoid using photographs as reference.

All pieces submitted should be completed to the size indicated. Although you will be photographing the work, working too small makes it difficult to create required detail.

Take your time when creating the pieces and fully develop the work. Craftsmanship is important.

All work must be your own. Any work found to be plagiarized will not be assessed.

Traditional medium – this would be mediums such as pencils, gouache, watercolor, markers. This would not include work done using a computer or photography.

1. Self Portrait

Create a natural or stylized portrait. With the aid of a large mirror, execute the portrait from direct observation, not from photo reference.

Compose the drawing to include your upper body and hands. In your non-drawing hand, hold an object that has special meaning to you. Be inventive. Your work will be evaluated on the following: use of value/colour, artistry, composition, rendering/craftsmanship.

MEDIUM: ANY TRADITIONAL COLOUR MEDIUM
SUGGESTED SIZE: 18″ X 24″

2. Paper Collage

Choose a vehicle you would like to illustrate. Start by collecting different types of papers such as; magazines, newspapers, cards, drawing papers or wallpaper. Consider their colours, weight and textures. Sketch out the shape of your vehicle on a sheet of heavy paper. Start cutting out paper using a variety of sizes, shapes, colour, tone and texture to create form. Be creative. The final work can look abstract or realistic. Finally, cut out some letters to spell out the type of vehicle and add to the piece.

Your work will be evaluated on the following: creativity, use of colour, tone and texture, craftsmanship and following instructions.

MEDIUM: PAPER COLLAGE
SUGGESTED SIZE: 16″ x 20″ OR 20″ X 16″

3. Interior Perspective Drawing

Complete a 2 point perspective drawing of an interior public space such as a local library, mall or public building. The provincial legislature or university buildings are always good choices. The location should have a high ceiling (at least 2 stories high). Draw from a dynamic angle, either from the ground looking upward or from a high vantage point looking downward. Focus on an area where various planes meet (ceiling, walls and floor). Work on site and not from photos.

Complete the drawing by adding tone (light to dark shading) to the whole drawing to create a strong sense of depth. In small letters at the bottom right hand corner of your drawing, write the location of your drawing.

Important: If you are unsure, do some research into 2 point perspective drawing to understand the concepts. Check out your local library or go online to view tutorials on the subject. Demonstrating a strong understanding of perspective is the most important aspect of the drawing when evaluated. Avoid 1 point perspective drawings.

Your work will be evaluated on the following: use of value and tone, relevance/perspective, composition, craftsmanship/rendering.

MEDIUM: BLACK PENCIL
SUGGESTED APPROXIMATE SIZE: 24″ X 18″ OR 18″ X 24″

4. Typographic Composition

Choose one of the words from the list below and create a typographic composition by using found objects which you feel connect with the meaning of the word. Use these objects and their shapes to spell out the word. Create only the letters found within the selected word. Your composition should be arranged on a solid white or black background. Attention to detail with respect to layout (positioning of letters), negative space, scale, colour, lighting, and craftsmanship are important. Once your composition is complete, photograph it and make sure the image is in-focus and crisp and clean.

Your work will be evaluated on the following: craftsmanship, concept/theme, composition, and creativity.

  • Home
  • Work
  • Play

MEDIUM: FOUND OBJECTS ARRANGED, DIGITALLY PHOTOGRAPHED
SUGGESTED SIZE: 11″ X 17″ OR 17″ X 11″

5. Illustrated Provincial Map

Create an illustrated thematic tourism map of a province or territory in Canada. Select one of the following themes to use for your map: Outdoor Adventure, Family Fun, or Urban Living.

The map should depict a minimum of five illustrated points of interest directly related to your chosen theme. (i.e. important places, landmarks, buildings, outdoor spots, activities, etc). The illustrations should share a consistent creative style, and align with the overall theme.

Prominently incorporate a title that creatively expresses the theme of the map. Label the illustrated points of interest in a similar creative style to the title. Aim for consistency, cleanliness, and clarity in the lettering.

Include any other design/illustrated elements that would be of interest to a visitor of each location.

The illustration style, lettering and colours should convey the tone and character of the theme (i.e. friendly, urban, adventurous, etc).

MEDIUM: HAND RENDERED (NO COMPUTERS) IN ANY TRADITIONAL COLOUR MEDIUM
SUGGESTED SIZE: 11″ X 17″ OR 17″ X 11″

6. Personal Work

Select four or five items of your best personal work. You may include sketches, finished drawings, paintings, sculpture, photography, and design layouts that are within the size restrictions of the portfolio. Show us a wide range of pieces in a variety of mediums and styles.

Avoid the following types of work:

  • projects from tutorials
  • highly derivative work that copies an existing style orwork
  • crafts
  • pieces that all use the same technique or of the samesubject matter

Your work will be evaluated on the following: rendering, composition, creativity, range of work.

Portfolio Submission

1. Photograph Your Work

For each of the creative components please provide a digital file of each piece in jpg format. To provide the best image, please shoot your piece in a well lit area. Hang or lean the piece up against a wall to shoot and avoid shadows. Try to keep the shot as square as possible to the frame to avoid distortion.

Please check your camera/phone settings and shoot with a lower resolution to avoid large files. Each image should be under 5MB.

For the written portion, résumé and cover letter please provide as one pdf file.

2. Name Your Files

When you have your written portion and images complete please title each file exactly as noted below. Our example is for an applicant named Mark Jones, Student Number 1234567. Pay attention to use of capital letters and no spaces.

PieceNaming FormatExample for Jill Jones
Written portionWrittenLastname.pdfWrittenJones.pdf
1 Self Portrait1PortraitLastname.jpg1PortraitJones.jpg
2 Paper Collage2CollageLastname.jpg2CollageJones.jpg
3 Interior Perspective3PerspectiveLastname.jpg3PerspectiveJones.jpg
4 Typographic Composition4TypographicLastname.jpg4TypographicJones.jpg
5 Illustrated Map5MapLastname.jpg5MapJones.jpg
6 Personal Work6PersonalLastname.jpg6aPersonalJones.jpg
6bPersonalJones.jpg
6cPersonalJones.jpg
6dPersonalJones.jpg
6ePersonalJones.jpg

Once all your images are titled correctly, the next step is to create a folder to submit your work. It is very important that your folder is named correctly so that your portfolio can be evaluated. We will not review portfolios that are labelled incorrectly or missing pieces.

Create a folder for your files using the following format: LastnameFirstnameStudentnumber

Using our sample applicant Mark Jones, their folder would be named JonesMark1234567

3. Compress Your Submission

The final step would be to compress your folder into a zip archive.

Using our sample applicant Mark Jones, their folder would be named JonesMark1234567

MacOS

  • Right-click on your portfolio folder (in our example that is JonesMark1234567)
  • Select Compress “JonesMark1234567”
  • You will now have a file called JonesMark1234567.zip

Windows

  • Right-click on your portfolio folder (in our example that is JonesMark1234567)
  • Select Send to > Compressed (zipped) folder
  • You will now have a file called JonesMark1234567.zip

Note: Mark Jones is our example. Your submission for all file names and submission should be using your first name, last name and your student number.

4. Submit Your Work

Please check your work before submitting as only the first submission will be accepted.

A month before the portfolio deadline you will receive an email from our admissions department with an upload link. Click on the link provided and follow the instructions on screen. Upon completion of the upload you will receive a confirmation message that the file upload was successful.

It’s a good idea to plan ahead and get your work submitted before the deadline. Your ability to meet a deadline and follow all assignment instructions, including naming files and submitting correctly are part of our assessment.

Deadline

The deadline to submit your portfolio is April 20, 2023 at 5pm CDT. Late submissions will not be accepted. If your portfolio is not submitted to the server by the deadline, your application will be withdrawn.

Troubleshooting

If you are having trouble submitting your portfolio first review all the details supplied. If you cannot proceed then you can contact our tech support email mradford@rrc.ca. To help resolve the issue please clearly describe what has happened, at what stage it happened and any messages generated by the issue.

Questions

If you have any questions about any of the portfolio items or process please contact the Program Coordinator Krista Lawson at klawson@rrc.ca.