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NCAD is Ireland’s largest dedicated art and design college, teaching innovative practice in art, design, education and visual culture.

ncad Portfolio Submission for entry in 2018



Welcome to ncad’s Portfolio Guidelines for entry in September 2018

This booklet is a portfolio guide for application to all pathways.*

* See pages 20—21


Students come to NCAD to engage in specialist programmes across a wide range of fields in Fine Art and Design. The studio is an essential part of life at NCAD. Students work in studios, developing their creative practice in a collaborative community. All sorts of people come to NCAD and bring different interests and experiences, and different combinations of skills and attitudes. This is what makes it vibrant. While we still have lots to learn from what has been done before, this is our time. What knowledge do we inherit and what do we transform by what we make, and make happen now. The start of this journey of exploration begins here with developing and creating your entry portfolio, and this booklet is created to help you with that process.


Is art college the place for you? Do you want a career in the creative art and design industries? Do you want to shape the world? Do you like making? Are you interested in why things look the way they do and in how things work? Do you want to make things work better? Do you like solving problems? Do you want to make a better world? Do you love colour? Are you fascinated by texture and shape? Do you like to tell visual stories? Do you find you notice things more than others? Do you love to draw? Do you like to learn and communicate visually? Do you want to take part in and be part of the big conversation that is our contemporary culture? If the answer is yes to any of the above then we think you should apply to NCAD. What if you are new to art and design but still think this is what you want to do? Then you need to get started‌


What is a Portfolio? Your art and design portfolio is essentially a case for holding and presenting the collection of visual imagery that you have made. This is where you bring together your creative work to show us your skills, creativity, and your interests. We really want to see how you work with and explore materials, using them to generate creative ideas and solutions. Putting this portfolio together will be your way of showing us your commitment to working through an art and design process. You can put together the work that you have already made to make your portfolio or you can begin the process here. The best portfolios show all your processes, from your beginning ideas and research to developed creative work. We like to see how well you can link these processes to generate great creative work. The following is an outline of how you can do this in practice.


How to use this Guide You can use this either as a guiding brief or a helpful supporting structure to putting your portfolio together in a way that shows your creative thinking. Your portfolio can be made up of work that broadly falls into most if not all of the following sections: If you are interested in applying for Product Design or Interaction Design you may find it useful to follow the guidelines on page 12.



Creative Enquiry and Visual Research Research and Observation

This is where we see your starting points and research. So, gather your art and design research work together or follow this guide:

Begin with gatherings. Look around you at the things you have already gathered in your life, and start by recording these visually through drawing and photography. Gather some more related things to develop your research further; these could be objects, clippings, images, texts. This process is to get you to reflect on what already interests you. Once you have begun this then focus on one or two themes. You can pick your own themes or design challenge. These guide words could help you develop your work‌

Artefact Travel Manifesto

Work Organising Place

Identity Play Junction

To help capture, connect and communicate your visual research you can make worksheets and notebooks for the themes you select. Make your research as visually rich as possible, using lots of drawn images. Your research should be considered, in-depth and really inventive so we know you value the creative process. We want you to show us how much you value observing, and inventively reflecting upon the world. Put together the observational drawings and processes you have made or follow this guide. You can also use this guide to see if you need to expand on the work you have already done. Be inventive and show how you can make direct observations. You can use a variety of media and drawing processes; you can use elements of line, tone, colour, form and surface. You can use media such as needle and thread, collage, still photography, moving image, stop frame motion, as well as careful drawing and colour studies to describe, explain, record and invent within this process. Any 3D work should be photographed, with prints included on sheets. If you include moving images, please make sure that work on USBs is referenced on relevant worksheets. Viewing time of films must not exceed two minutes. (See guidelines for submitting digital work on page 23).



Idea Development and Material and Technical Exploration Creative ideas— outcomes of your research and observation

Now let's see what happens when you mix things up and put things together in new combinations, identify or address design problems, or give a new interpretation, taking your work further than the known or the purely observed. This is when you generate new creative outcomes and design solutions from your research and observations. Put together a selection of your work that shows how you develop your ideas. The following strategies could help provide useful ways to generate new and creative outcomes. 1. Using your themes, think about the possibilities if you were to merge, or swap some of the characteristics of any two of the things/images/ideas to create new hybrids. Think of your original things/images/ideas as parents, and the hybrids are their children... what characteristics do these strange children inherit? 2. Think about what you have discovered from your observations, and how these insights can inform your ideas, enabling you to address peoples design needs, wants and desires. Ideas worksheets can use different materials, collage or photographic elements, whatever means/materials you choose to generate these creative proposals.


Critical Judgement, Selection and Resolution

What do you do when you take your work even further? Looking at your creative proposals, pursue at least one of these visual creative ideas into a more developed work, you may have examples of work that you have already done.

Developed creative work


Your work can be made in two or three dimensions, or it can be a combination of 2D and 3D processes and/or moving images. Presenting your critical decision making process, project planning and research is as important as your final resolved project work and creative solutions.


Creative Notebooks

In addition to showing us the three basic steps of the creative process we would like to see examples of your visual notebooks and sketchbooks. These offer the portfolio reviewer a chance to deepen their understanding of your work and creative processes. These are as important as your finished work. A notebook is where you visually record your ideas, thoughts and notions that arise while you make your work, along with your critical reflections on your work. Notebooks are not perfect‌ but are always forming or emerging. They serve people in different ways as a live record and sometimes as evidence of things referenced, visited, seen or experienced and explored. Notebooks can show how you might expand ideas that you don’t have time to develop fully. Any small drawings, diagrams or studies that help communicate your observations, thoughts and ideas are welcome. These can be from all sections of the portfolio. The notebook itself can be something you construct. There can be different types of notebooks, ranging from something small that you bring with you everywhere in your pocket, or a set of cards you carry around, and much larger containers for print-outs, tests, and connected stuff. Your notebook should show evidence of your awareness and interest in artists and designers.


Product Design and Interaction Design The following guidelines could be used when applying to Product Design or Interaction Design. Pick one of the guide words to set yourself a design challenge and complete a short design project‌

Artefact Travel Manifesto

Work Organising Place

Identity Play Junction

For example; can you improve a travel experience, can you reimagine a work environment or can you design a new game or toy to play.

1. Research and observation

Ask questions about your design challenge. Try to understand the human experience at the core of your challenge - interview people, observe environments and record your findings. Explore examples of good and bad products or experiences relating to your challenge and show us how other designers have responded. Identify the problem that you are going to solve.

2. Creative ideas

Use your research to generate lots of ideas - practical, wild or futuristic. Draw your ideas or make simple models to develop your thoughts. Consider both physical and digital ideas for your design. Think about how your idea might work, who would use it and what their experience could be like. Look at for inspiration on drawing technique.

Outcomes of your research and observation


3. Developed creative work

This is where you select, develop and present one idea. It could take the form of a product, an app, a service, an environment or a combination of the above. Show us what’s great about your design - how does it solve the problem you identified? This is also your opportunity to show what your design looks like, how it works and what the user experience is like.

4. Creative Notebook

Your notebook can show any extra project development like planning, thoughts and notes. We are also interested in the designers that inspire you, the drawings that didn’t quite fit in the portfolio or the hobbies, art, school projects or work experience that you didn’t get chance to show. If you make things, break stuff, hack objects or program computers - we’d like to see it.


Check out for inspiration and examples of some great product and interaction design work. All work should be submitted on A3 worksheets and notebooks. You can use drawings, models, storyboards or computer generated imagery to show your work. Any physical objects should be photographed and included in worksheets. If you are a potential applicant or a teacher and you would like to find out more about the course or portfolio preparation, we run Portfolio Information Sessions and a Portfolio Workshop in November and January each year. You can find the details for these events and examples of portfolio work on the NCAD website or on our Facebook page




How will your portfolio be assessed? Your portfolio will be assessed by a team of NCAD academic staff with professional and specialist expertise in art & design. The assessment panel are particularly interested in how applicants research and develop their ideas in a visual way, and in their imaginative and creative responses to ideas, to observations, to processes and to concepts. The main areas of assessment are:

Creative Enquiry and Visual Research The level of your engagement in intelligent, structured visual enquiry and how well you communicate this. Idea Development and Material/Technical Exploration Your ability to explore and develop ideas in an appropriate way, and your level of skill in the use of materials and techniques. Critical Judgement, Selection and Resolution How well you judge which ideas have the most potential and your ability to bring them to a level of completion appropriate to your intended outcome.



How to make an application to First Year at NCAD There are 2 parts to the application process for NCAD: 1. CAO Application All applications for full-time first year undergraduate study must be made through the CAO (Central Applications Office)Â The deadline for CAO Applications is 5.15pm Thursday 1st February 2018. 2. Portfolio Submission A portfolio submission is required as part of the application process for all studio degrees at NCAD. The deadline for portfolio submission is 4.30 Friday 9th February 2018.

When will I be told the outcome of my assessment? We will write to you by the end of March with the result of your portfolio assessment. This letter will tell you if you have been successful and have achieved the necessary standard for a conditional offer. A conditional offer is an offer that is dependent on you meeting the minimum academic entry requirements through your Leaving Certificate, QQI FET Award or other final school examination or further education award. If you do not get a conditional offer we will tell you if you are on a waiting list for an offer. Each year we make a number of offers to applicants from the waiting list. For information on academic entry requirements please see


Offers are made in August through the CAO. All applicants are placed on a ranked list based on portfolio score. Offers are made in descending order from this list to applicants who have met the minimum academic entry requirements.

Choosing what programme to apply for First Year students on all studio programmes in NCAD are instantly immersed in an exciting and unique inter-disciplinary programme with art and design students working side by side and together to explore and discover the wide-ranging possibilities open to them. This open and playful exploration combined with expert staff advice helps our students find and settle on the right pathway for their individual goals and abilities. Many of our students find the First Year common experience really helps them decide on the pathway that suits them best. If you know what area of Art & Design you wish to study you can select that option from the list on pages 20 and 21. If you prefer to remain open and explore the range of possibilities available to you, choose AD101 First Year Art & Design (Common Entry). There will be places available on all studio programmes for students who come in through the common entry route. Further information on the application offer process can be found at


We have introduced a new broader range of entry pathways to NCAD in 2018. Applicants can apply through the Central Applications Office ( to one or more pathways in order of preference.

AD101 — First Year Art & Design (Common Entry) A common entry pathway leading to degree options in all areas: Design: Fashion Design / Graphic Design / Illustration / Jewellery & Objects / Textile & Surface Design Fine Art: Print / Media / Painting / Sculpture / Applied Material Culture (Textiles Art & Artefact, Ceramics & Glass)

AD102 — Illustration and Graphic Design Degree options in: Illustration (drawing, image making and animation), Graphic Design

AD103 — Textiles, Jewellery & Objects Degree options in: Textile & Surface Design, Jewellery & Objects

AD202 — Design or Fine Art & Education Second Level Teaching Degree options in: Joint Honours in Design & Education, Joint Honours in Fine Art & Education


AD204 Fine Art — Degree options in: Print / Media / Painting / Sculpture / Applied Material Culture (Textiles Art & Artefact, Ceramics & Glass)


AD211 — Fashion Design

AD212 — Product Design Designing and making new physical objects and experiences.

AD215 — Visual Culture (History & Theory of Contemporary Art & Design) This is not a studio-based programme. Portfolio not required.

AD222 — Interaction Design Designing digital interactions for apps, websites, products, services and user experiences.


The Portfolio Checklist Put your name, CAO number and address on your portfolio cover and label your individual sheets and notebooks. Spend time selecting work you are passionate and confident about. Include high quality images and photographs of any work you cannot physically fit into your folio. Think of the narrative of your portfolio and how it is composed. Include your notebooks. Your finished portfolio should include between 10 and 20 A1/A2 or A3 sheets as well as at least 1 notebook. The whole portfolio should not weigh more than 10kg and should not include any glass or other potentially hazardous material. This is for the safety of staff handling the portfolios Remember that the most important part of the NCAD admissions process is that you let the work speak for itself and to be proud of your creative practice. Once you have considered the presentation of your portfolio, make sure the work you have selected best reflects your creative practice. Ask family, friends and teachers to look through your portfolio and to suggest improvements.


Good luck and we look forward to seeing your portfolio!

Guidelines on Digital Submissions

Refer to page 09

If including sound or moving image please ensure that all video or audio files play on Windows Media Player or Apple Quick Time Player. It is best to check the file on a computer other than the one on which they were prepared. Digital work should be submitted on a USB key. Total running time of each film must not exceed two minutes. Digital work must be clearly labeled and referenced in the body of the portfolio.


NCAD 100 Thomas Street, Dublin D08 K521, Ireland T: + 353 1 636 4200 F: + 353 1 636 4207 E:

Important dates for entry in September 2018 NCAD Open Day: Wednesday 29th November 2017 CAO Closing Date: 5.15pm, Thursday 1st February 2018 Portfolio Submission Deadline: 4.30pm, Friday 9th February 2018 24

NCAD Portfolio Guidelines for Submission for entry in 2018  
NCAD Portfolio Guidelines for Submission for entry in 2018