Graphic Design Portfolio advice

Your portfolio is an important part of the interview and admissions process in the School. It should contain the strongest examples of your work as an artist or designer.

As a Graphic Designer you get paid to have ideas. As part of your application to the University of Kent, you are required to submit a portfolio as evidence of your artistic ability and potential to present your ideas visually.

Take time to plan this from the moment you decide to apply. Assessors at the University are expecting an indication of work in progress showing how you approach an idea or subject and develop the work from initial thought, through experimentation and enquiry, to resolved work. We do not expect to see professional outcomes at this level.

Below you will find details of what we are looking for and how your work will be assessed. You will also find tips on how to plan and present your work and what makes a strong Graphic Design portfolio.

What to include in your Graphic Design portfolio

Requirements (12 – 20 pages)

  1. Development/sketchbook work – up to 10 images of your development/sketchbook work (minimum of 5 images)
  2. Resolved/finished work – up to 10 images of your resolved work (minimum of 5 images)
  3. Influences/context images – up to 5 images which demonstrate your influences (minimum of 2 images, see below for more detail)

Each image can have up to 100 characters, including spaces and punctuation, of supporting/explanatory text.

Influences/context Images

The images demonstrating your influences may be images of work or objects which have inspired or influenced your work e.g.

  • people working in the same medium or for the same audience, now or in the past
  • people interested in the same subject or theme, now or in the past
  • natural or man-made phenomena, objects, places, events which have inspired or provoked a response


Assessors are interested in how you have decided to put your portfolio together; it should be carefully planned and well presented. They will also be judging your ability to edit your work, so be selective and strategic in your choice of material. If you have lots of high-quality work, include it to showcase your talent and commitment. If you haven’t, select your best: these key gems can show us that you know what you are good at, and how to show it. Resist the temptation to pad out your portfolio with mediocre work.

For entry to Year 1 Graphic Design a strong portfolio is likely to display the following:

  • Evidence of ideas, concepts and problem-solving.
  • Experimentation with materials and how ideas develop into more resolved pieces.
  • Typographic skills.
  • 2D and 3D skills.
  • A broad range of projects undertaken with a variety of outputs not just one idea, technique or theme.
  • Above all, while drawing and digital skills are desirable, assessors are looking to see ideas. Ideas should be evident at the centre of any work presented.

How we assess your portfolio

Portfolios are assessed by academic staff who are particularly interested in how you research and develop ideas in a visual way and how you engage with design. This is broken down into four main areas:

1. Visual Research and Enquiry – shows the level of your engagement in intelligent, structured visual enquiry and how well you communicate this.

2. Idea Development – shows your ability to appropriately explore and develop ideas, and your level of skills in the use of materials or techniques.

3. Selection and Resolution – shows how well you judge which ideas have the most appropriate potential and your ability to bring them to a level of completion appropriate to your intended outcome.

4. Contextual Awareness – shows the extent of your knowledge of the subject you have applied for and how your work relates to it.

How the content of a portfolio provides evidence for the above categories will vary enormously depending on the person – no two portfolios will be the same.

If you have any queries relating to the content of your portfolio, please email Dr Kate McLean -  

How to submit your portfolio

We will request a portfolio from you once your application has come through to us. Please provide a link to your portfolio. If you cannot provide a link and need to upload your portfolio as a PDF, then you can upload it in response to the information request you’ll receive in your Kent Vision applicant portal. Please note, for uploads, the file size needs to be 5MB or under. If your file size is over 5MB, please email your portfolio to and include your Applicant ID in the subject line.

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