aashleypng
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#1
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#1
Any tips for making art portfolio for architecture without studying art or design technology? At A-level/IB or GCSE
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normaw
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#2
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SebastianMesser will be the best person to advise you on this.
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SebastianMesser
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aashleypng I would recommend you take an art foundation course at a further education college. That will give you experience of a range of approaches and disciplines, will increase your UCAS points, and most importantly you would experience studio culture and critique before you start architecture. You can apply for an art foundation and to UCAS for architecture courses (note, an art foundation is not the same as the foundation degrees/ ‘year zero’ offered by a lot of universities) so you can try for both.

You don’t have to formally study an art subject to develop a portfolio/ apply for architecture. If you want to do this independently then my tips are:

find a life drawing class - life drawing is not easy but it will improve your drawing like nothing else can, and it is the best demonstration of eye-brain-hand coordination,
a pocket-sized sketchbook - for architects sketching is a way to understand why something interests you/ how it works, not (only) what it looks like,
Drawing/ painting from photographs is OK but in addition to drawing from life,
use a soft pencil, graphite stick, or Sharpie (which will force you to draw confidently) and draw big!

You will want to show that you are interested in architecture - but don’t try to design a building (you don’t go to a restaurant and insist on telling the chef how you boil an egg!) Think about how you might demonstrate 3D thinking and making. (Personally I really like to see portfolios from textiles courses - taking something 1D and making it 2D, taking something 2D and making something 3D. Architectural design is essentially spatial / void rather than volume / solid, so I think textiles are the closest you can get to studying architecture before studying Architecture in the UK.) We will want to see your thought processes (and how you approach a ‘problem’).

I’d recommend the CSM Foundation book for projects you can do (and a lot of these are quite spatial) https://www.arts.ac.uk/colleges/cent...oundation-book

Also look at the websites for the courses you are interested in - most will have recommendations and submission/ format requirements for portfolios.

(The RIBA Validated UK architecture courses are listed here: https://www.architecture.com/educati...ted-schools-uk and you can see the best projects from the final years of the RIBA Validated courses globally can be viewed here: http://www.presidentsmedals.com)
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aashleypng
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#4
Report Thread starter 3 days ago
#4
(Original post by SebastianMesser)
aashleypng I would recommend you take an art foundation course at a further education college. That will give you experience of a range of approaches and disciplines, will increase your UCAS points, and most importantly you would experience studio culture and critique before you start architecture. You can apply for an art foundation and to UCAS for architecture courses (note, an art foundation is not the same as the foundation degrees/ ‘year zero’ offered by a lot of universities) so you can try for both.

You don’t have to formally study an art subject to develop a portfolio/ apply for architecture. If you want to do this independently then my tips are:

find a life drawing class - life drawing is not easy but it will improve your drawing like nothing else can, and it is the best demonstration of eye-brain-hand coordination,
a pocket-sized sketchbook - for architects sketching is a way to understand why something interests you/ how it works, not (only) what it looks like,
Drawing/ painting from photographs is OK but in addition to drawing from life,
use a soft pencil, graphite stick, or Sharpie (which will force you to draw confidently) and draw big!

You will want to show that you are interested in architecture - but don’t try to design a building (you don’t go to a restaurant and insist on telling the chef how you boil an egg!) Think about how you might demonstrate 3D thinking and making. (Personally I really like to see portfolios from textiles courses - taking something 1D and making it 2D, taking something 2D and making something 3D. Architectural design is essentially spatial / void rather than volume / solid, so I think textiles are the closest you can get to studying architecture before studying Architecture in the UK.) We will want to see your thought processes (and how you approach a ‘problem’).

I’d recommend the CSM Foundation book for projects you can do (and a lot of these are quite spatial) https://www.arts.ac.uk/colleges/cent...oundation-book

Also look at the websites for the courses you are interested in - most will have recommendations and submission/ format requirements for portfolios.

(The RIBA Validated UK architecture courses are listed here: https://www.architecture.com/educati...ted-schools-uk and you can see the best projects from the final years of the RIBA Validated courses globally can be viewed here: http://www.presidentsmedals.com)
Thank you so much for this! In terms of the art foundation course, I'm not really keen on doing it - as I can actually do art really well but I didn't choose it for IGCSE or IB since I didn't think I wanted to do architecture until last year. I did do a 5 year art course outside of school so I mentioned that in my personal statement and I am planning on using work from there in my portfolio. However I don't really have a process or reason behind those pieces of work (since I just did it for the course) - so I have a good final product but not the process :/
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SebastianMesser
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#5
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(Original post by aashleypng)
Thank you so much for this! In terms of the art foundation course, I'm not really keen on doing it - as I can actually do art really well but I didn't choose it for IGCSE or IB since I didn't think I wanted to do architecture until last year. I did do a 5 year art course outside of school so I mentioned that in my personal statement and I am planning on using work from there in my portfolio. However I don't really have a process or reason behind those pieces of work (since I just did it for the course) - so I have a good final product but not the process :/
An art foundation exposes you to lots of different approaches and disciplines, it’s not a formal Beaux Art style training in skills. If you have not studied art formally (and even if you had studied it at A’level alongside other subjects) the important thing you would learn are that design studio is a method of inquiry, this is not like being in a classroom being given information, and it would also introduce you to the process of ‘the crit’, which a lot of people find intimidating, and it is a skill in its own right to present your work verbally.

It is my personal regret that I did not do an art foundation - although I was offered a place on one - as I had decided I wanted to be an architect when I was aged 7 so I went straight from A’levels to an architecture degree (generally-speaking, both then and now, my observations of the difference 18 and 19 year old students is as big as the differences between 16 and 18 year olds - so the same applied to people who had taken a year out as those who had undertaken an art foundation). But that may just be me…

Partly because becoming an architect (in the UK) takes at least 7 years, it does feel like you need to ‘get on with it’ especially if no one in your family has a connection to architecture (an assumption since you asking for advice on TSR) but it’s a cliche that a ‘ young’ architect is in their 40s for a reason - it just takes a lot of experience to get good at it. The 5 years in formal education really are just an introduction to an architectural way of thinking.

If you don’t have the development work for your previous projects, then it’s not worth ‘faking it’, but you could go back to that work and see what you can develop from it now. Critical self-reflection is a higher level ability (what we look for and try to develop at Masters level), so being able to critique your own work (it’s strengths, weaknesses, and possibilities) would demonstrate good academic ability.

Think about how you ‘curate’ your portfolio - it does not have to be chronological. Instead think of the portfolio like a box set, the work produced for discrete projects are like single episodes, each with their own conclusion, but the portfolio is like the series’ overarching narrative? (And think especially about the ‘season finale’ - what is the last piece of work which will been seen and which your portfolio/ you will be remembered? - in a face to face interview that may be what stays on the table while you talk for the next 20 minutes! The vast majority of digital portfolios I see this is essentially (and no better than) a scrapbook…What are the themes (the ideas which reoccur and are important to you) and the resonances between projects (how those themes/ ideas are investigated from different angles) in your work?

I watched an online launch for this https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/15542769/2021/91/1 and one of the participants - maybe Catriona Stewart? - described all of their individual projects as being aspects of one project. That struck me as a memorable way to think about an architectural/ design career (I guess it is how an artist would think about their career?) and it is also a good way to think about the portfolio.
Last edited by SebastianMesser; 3 days ago
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aashleypng
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#6
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#6
(Original post by SebastianMesser)
An art foundation exposes you to lots of different approaches and disciplines, it’s not a formal Beaux Art style training in skills. If you have not studied art formally (and even if you had studied it at A’level alongside other subjects) the important thing you would learn are that design studio is a method of inquiry, this is not like being in a classroom being given information, and it would also introduce you to the process of ‘the crit’, which a lot of people find intimidating, and it is a skill in its own right to present your work verbally.

It is my personal regret that I did not do an art foundation - although I was offered a place on one - as I had decided I wanted to be an architect when I was aged 7 so I went straight from A’levels to an architecture degree (generally-speaking, both then and now, my observations of the difference 18 and 19 year old students is as big as the differences between 16 and 18 year olds - so the same applied to people who had taken a year out as those who had undertaken an art foundation). But that may just be me…

Partly because becoming an architect (in the UK) takes at least 7 years, it does feel like you need to ‘get on with it’ especially if no one in your family has a connection to architecture (an assumption since you asking for advice on TSR) but it’s a cliche that a ‘ young’ architect is in their 40s for a reason - it just takes a lot of experience to get good at it. The 5 years in formal education really are just an introduction to an architectural way of thinking.

If you don’t have the development work for your previous projects, then it’s not worth ‘faking it’, but you could go back to that work and see what you can develop from it now. Critical self-reflection is a higher level ability (what we look for and try to develop at Masters level), so being able to critique your own work (it’s strengths, weaknesses, and possibilities) would demonstrate good academic ability.

Think about how you ‘curate’ your portfolio - it does not have to be chronological. Instead think of the portfolio like a box set, the work produced for discrete projects are like single episodes, each with their own conclusion, but the portfolio is like the series’ overarching narrative? (And think especially about the ‘season finale’ - what is the last piece of work which will been seen and which your portfolio/ you will be remembered? - in a face to face interview that may be what stays on the table while you talk for the next 20 minutes! The vast majority of digital portfolios I see this is essentially (and no better than) a scrapbook…What are the themes (the ideas which reoccur and are important to you) and the resonances between projects (how those themes/ ideas are investigated from different angles) in your work?

I watched an online launch for this https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/15542769/2021/91/1 and one of the participants - maybe Catriona Stewart? - described all of their individual projects as being aspects of one project. That struck me as a memorable way to think about an architectural/ design career (I guess it is how an artist would think about their career?) and it is also a good way to think about the portfolio.
Thank you so much for the informative response - apologies for replying so late! I'll be sure to consider all your suggestions as to what to include. Is there any way that I could send you a draft of my portfolio (when its done) in the near future?

In terms of my unis = I am currently planning on applying to UCL, Bath, Cardiff Sheffield and Nottingham/Brighton (for safetys) and I am aware that these are very competitive unis. However, I am confused as to how to classify them as my aspirationals/solids/safetys. The reason being that my total predicted grades are past the requirements - thus making it a solid. However, I don't take Art/DT thus making it aspirational - with the addition of the whole portfolio aspect.

Thank you so much
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