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Studio Art

Resources for Studio Art majors and students taking art courses

Building a Portfolio

Documenting your work while still in school can help give you a head start on building a portfolio to use for jobs, internships, grants, and self-promotion.

Tools and Equipment

The Instructional Media Center (IMC) has cameras and tripods available for checkout. Library computers are currently not accessible due to COVID-19 safety concerns. For help photographing, scanning or editing images of your work please contact the Visual Resources Center.

Best Practices

Identify tools for documentation

Cameras, video recorders, tripods, lights, scanners, editing software.

Make sure your art is well lit

Though you can color correct with image editing software, it can be much more difficult to save a blown out image. Light your art in a way that will allow for the best digital image experience. Try to photograph your work under white lights for color accuracy. If you are photographing your work outside, try taking images at different points throughout the day for different lighting conditions.

Take representative images

If you have a drawing, a single scan might be your best option. For a painting, a photograph. If you are photographing three-dimensional work, determine what angles best represent your work and take a couple clean images. If your work is interactive, you might consider taking still images and creating a recording.

File types and sizes

TIFF is the optimal file type. It is a universal file format, meaning it will open on most operating systems. JPG will also open on most systems, but the images get compressed when saving and can lose quality over time. You can always convert from TIFF to another file type as needed.

Take high-quality images to begin with, you can always resize them later with image editing software. Many portfolios are digital these days, but having high-quality images of your work allows you to create prints or a crisp physical portfolio.

A note about creating images for print

The sweet spot is 300 dpi (dots per inch). If you are scanning your work, you can set the dpi to 300 before you start creating your images. If you are using a camera, you might have to convert to 300 dpi later. Make sure you set your camera to the largest image size possible for the best print quality.

Catalog Resources

Try searching the Reed College Library catalog for 'art vocational guidance' for more resources. Adding 'portfolio' or a work classification to your search for more specific resources on building your portfolio. If the book you need is through Safari Books Online you will be able to set up a free account using your academic email for access. If you need additional help getting an account set up, see the Safari Books Online guide.

Email, call, or visit the library for more in-depth help with your questions!

Email Angie at if you would like to see other topics covered within this guide.