If you’re applying to a high school magnet program, off-campus study program such as AAEP, or to an All City Arts Program, chances are that you’ll have to show some of your artwork and/or ability level in the arts. The audition or portfolio review process may seem stressful, but it is a chance for a school or program to determine if they can meet your needs and help you grow further in the arts. As well, an audition or portfolio review can help you decide if that school or program is right for you!

Here are some tips that can help you do the best when you are auditioning or sharing your art work during a portfolio review:

1. Be Prepared

Make sure you have everything you will need for the audition or portfolio review. Check the application carefully, following every requirement. Some auditions have strict dress codes. If there is no dress code, pick an outfit you feel good moving in. Bring proper shoes, bandaids or moleskin, hairpins, and water to drink. Having everything that you need will help you feel confident when auditioning. In visual art, select only the examples that excite you the most. Reviewers want to see that you are aware of what your best work is in order to evaluate your decision-making process. Make sure your presentation is neatly organized, lightweight, and easy to look through, like a sketchbook, photos of 3-D work, and/or a device to show digital images.

2. Arrive Early (“on time is late”)

Plan to arrive at least 35 minutes before the audition or portfolio review. You will appreciate having the extra time to check out your surroundings, to warm up, and to get focused. Concentrate on preparing yourself, both physically and mentally. You will have a better audition/interview if you are relaxed and ready.

3. Stand out as a learner and a leader

Judges often watch for students who learn the material quickly and independently. Sometimes judges will pick artists who are the most engaged participants and the quickest learners, not necessarily the best artists. Depending on the art form, standing or sitting in the front of the room, or in an interview, making eye contact shows confidence. Show the judges that you are a leader – stand or sit in the front when you can, introduce yourself, and share your ideas in a constructive way.

4. Ask Real Questions

If you are unsure about directions or instructions, don’t be afraid to ask. It will show the judges that you want to do your best. The judges will not frown upon students who ask for help. Make sure to ask questions in a professional and serious manner. Pay attention, making sure that questions you do ask have not already been answered. And, if a judge asks you if you have any questions, don’t make up questions. Make sure you’re asking real questions that will help you make the best decision about the program or school to which you’re applying. You can even prepare a list of questions about the school or program in advance.

5. Stay Positive

Try your best to stay positive at all times. Be yourself and do your very best. Smile and show the judges how much you enjoy making art. Relax, smile and believe in yourself, no matter how nervous you may be. Leave behind a positive impression of yourself as a thoughtful individual and a successful student. In rare cases, auditions and portfolio reviews at this level can become competitive. Remember that sometimes you won’t be selected for the opportunity, and rejection doesn’t mean that you are a bad student. Never assume that you were rejected because of a lack of talent or technique.

6. Work on concentration

Relaxation and breathing exercises should help get you centered. Now use your audition piece or your portfolio to completely focus. Talk about your work, class assignments, and their purpose. Talk about what inspires you to create art. Take suggestions from the portfolio reviewer as a positive step toward learning more about art and creating a better portfolio.