The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

The Student News Site of Malvern Preparatory School

Friar's Lantern

Portfolio Pressure


Where in the world has Matt Magargee been?  It has something to do with charcoal.

Imagine spending six months working on one project, with three of these months occurring in the “work-free” summer. Now add on the time and stress that goes into applying to multiple colleges. Making a portfolio was the single most difficult task I have ever encountered in my life. Hundreds of hours were spent sketching, drawing, and producing art to the best of my ability. This is the challenge that high school students interested in art school are forced to face in order to gain acceptance into the college of their choice.

The first time I had ever come across a portfolio was on my visit to Syracuse during spring break of my Junior year. They had portfolio examples of past students set up all around the room. These pamphlets were full of Mona Lisas. Needless to say I was utterly intimidated. I did not think that my skill in graphic design and classroom doodling could ever amount to anything comparable to these masterpieces in front of me.

Architecture is what I plan to study in college. Yes, you need to make an art portfolio to get into architecture school. Surprised, right? At first, I was angry and still intimidated that I had to put together a professional pamphlet consisting of around twenty of my best art pieces. However, my interest in architecture overcame my intimidation.

I set out on the journey of a lifetime as I began to search for summer classes and camps to improve my abilities and help to make this “stupid” portfolio. I spent two weeks at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University learning how to draw with charcoal. I drew two nude models. Yes, I stared at a naked person for hours while I interpreted her body into a black charcoal work of art. It was an awesome experience, uncomfortable at first but after a little bit I really began to see the beauty and intrigue of the human body. I also participated in a weeklong camp at Penn State where I constructed a miniature cardboard building and proceeded to draw it. I bumped out six solid portfolio pieces thanks to these two programs.

The majority of my Junior year summer was spent working on this portfolio. Coming into the school year, I needed more pieces to fill the minimum amount. I added some graphic design works from the previous year. I also added three more charcoal drawings on the theatre in the Duffy Center. I basically sat and drew, in solitude, particular aspects of the theatre while the angelic voice of Mr. Frank Sinatra softly played out of my iPhone.

When I finally finished all of the pieces that were going in my portfolio I was relieved. But the stress and aggravation on built up. I now had to digitalize every single piece and design a layout for the pamphlet. I finished everything in mid November after six long months of hard work and stress. I could never have topped off the beautiful showcase of my art talent without the help of Ms. Plows. A local printing company run by Malvern graduates even printed my portfolio for free!

The toils I went through to make a sixteen page handheld pamphlet were almost unbearable. But I did not go through this challenge alone. My good friend and classmate Ricky Walsh ‘14 is also applying to art school and told me this about his work: “It took many trials and tribulations to arrive at my final product. Whether I was in my room drawing until the early hours of the morning, or spending extra hours in the studio art room, I gradually completed my portfolio. However, it was well worth the effort and extra work because colleges get to see a completely different side of me that cannot be shown through raw numbers.”

Many people outside of the college art world are unaware of how much effort it takes to simply get into an art school, let alone even what a portfolio is. Student athletes who commit to colleges have it so easy. Do I wish I was committed to a college for a sport and had a minimum amount of necessary effort? No. Making a portfolio sucked, it really did.  But I amazed myself, my family, and my peers at the quality of work I was able to produce. I now know that my art interest and talent has no limit. I will carry the skills that I picked up while putting together a professional art portfolio for the rest of my life.

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