MA Children's Book Illustration portfolios

Find out how to prepare your portfolio for the MA Children's Book Illustration course at Cambridge School of Art.

What do we look for in your portfolio?

Generally, your portfolio should include 15-20 pieces of work that show your skills through:
1. finished drawings/paintings/sculptures/etc
2. drawings from observation
3. process work.
These items should highlight your creativity, individuality, and openness to experimentation.

At Cambridge School of Art, we see drawing skills as particularly useful and want to see drawings from life, even if you have not taken drawing classes. These should include observational drawings of your surroundings/streets/cafes/people. We strongly believe that through careful observation, rather than drawing what you think you should see, you learn to understand objects, places, and figures, and build a library of images to use in your illustration work. We like to see that you have already begun this investigation in your sketchbooks.

While we expect to see some examples of your finished projects, we’re also very keen to see your working/thought processes. Drawing is the basis for the development of ideas so even if you mainly work in other media, please include examples of research and development of the ideas to show us how your ideas evolve. We will be looking for examples of your progress from initial ideas to final pieces, how you engage with your subject matter, and what inspired you to create your work.

There is no prerequisite that you have created work for a child audience before coming on the course. Furthermore, if you haven’t completed illustration work but you have worked as a ceramicist, designer, or other type of artist, we’d like to see examples of this. Please also include examples of where you have experimented with new art materials and created works using a variety of methods. We want to see that you are inquisitive and have the ability to investigate. No matter the medium, we are interested to see your content, composition, and creativity. We get very excited when we see candidates from diverse backgrounds who have had unique experiences they can bring to both their own work and the MA course.

How should you present your work?

Home/EU applications

Please include a portfolio with your application. You may deliver your portfolio digitally as a PDF document or website portfolio. We can’t accept USBs or CDs in the post. If your portfolio is a PDF please include your name and the course you want to study in the file name and on the PDF. You may need to reduce the file size using a free site such as SmallPDF.com. Websites and file transfer services are also acceptable. In case you need suggestions, some of the more popular ones are listed below.*

After review of your application materials, you may be invited for an interview on campus. To this interview, you should bring a portfolio that includes “finished” works of art, in addition to sketchbooks showing both process work and observational drawings, as described above. You are welcome to bring any 3-dimensional objects with you, as long as you are able to carry them. Alternately, you may wish to photograph these objects and include prints of them in your portfolio. You will be asked further questions about your work and experiences during the interview.

International applicants

Please include a portfolio with your application. You may deliver your portfolio digitally as a PDF document or website portfolio. We can’t accept USBs or CDs in the post. If your portfolio is a PDF please include your name and the course you want to study in the file name and on the PDF. You may need to reduce the file size using a free site such as SmallPDF.com. Websites and file transfer services are also acceptable. In case you need suggestions, some of the more popular ones are listed below.*

You may be asked follow-up questions regarding your work or experiences, or to provide additional samples of your work, by the course leader via email. Please be aware of this possibility and check your email accordingly. International portfolios are reviewed the first week of each month.

For any questions regarding this or any other aspect of the admissions process please contact your admissions officer. We look forward to receiving your portfolio.

*Previously used websites for transferring online portfolios include: Behance, Flickr, Deviantart, Carbonmade, Indexedit, Wordpress, Blogger, Blogspot, Dropbox, WeTransfer, and Crevado.

Visit the MA Children's Book Illustration course page