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College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Portfolio Requirements

Portfolio in Minnesota

UNI Student Laurie Hinz (Second from right) astonishes students from the University of Minnesota with the quality of her portfolio

Your portfolio serves two basic functions:

  • The portfolio is an important tool that you will use to present your competence to potential employers. For that reason, it is very important for you to prepare a neat, well thought out, professional portfolio. The basic portfolio guidelines, established by the TAPP faculty, can be accessed by clicking on portfolio icon seen just below. Please note that although the faculty require a basic portfolio, we also encourage you to add items to it, beyond the basic expectations. Additions may be used to highlight your areas of interest and particular skills.

Click on the image to the left to access TAPP Portfolio Guidelines

  • The portfolio is also an important method by which the faculty judge the effectiveness of the TAPP curriculum by giving us a chance to see the combined work of an entire cohort of students simultaneously. The overall quality and presentation of your work affects how we adjust the curriculum for future students. Because the portfolio is, for us an analytical tool, we are very insistent upon its basic format during the assessment and grading process. You are free, after our evaluation, to alter your portfolio for your own personal use; however, for grading purposes you must submit all items required.Portfolio

Below are some basic requirements for the development of a professional portfolio:

  • The portfolio should be housed within a 14 x 17 inch leather / leatherette enclosure. Quality and costs of portfolio enclosures vary widely. If needed, faculty can give advice prior to your purchase. Decent portfolio enclosures can be acquired from:
    • Dick Blick ( or their store location in Iowa City
    • Hobby Lobby
    • University Book and Supply located in Cedar Falls
    • Art Store and More located in Cedar Falls





The required paper to be used within the portfolio is 14 x 17 inch Pearl Gray Canson(TM) paper. While Canson paper comes in a variety of bright colors, Pearl Gray is an industry standard. The neutral background afforded by the Pearl Gray allows the colors of designs, prints and photographs presented in the portfolio to standout, non-confounded by flaring of the portfolio page color. This is an archival paper that will not rapidly fade as does construction paper. Canson paper can be acquired from the same stores listed above. It often requires that you special order the paper, so please do not wait until the last minute.


tapeSeveral of your portfolio requirements call for photographs of your designs. Please remember that faculty and industry require images of apparel designs to be professionally photographed. We frequently host a professional photo shoot on campus which you may use to photograph you designs. You may also hire your own professional photographer too.

Photographs and other items of interest should be professionally mounted to your Canson paper using archival tape. The tape of choice is 3M's "Ribbon of Glue" 1/2 x 180 inches. Porter's Camera Store in Cedar Falls is a supplier of archival tape. The glue tape is designed to be placed behind your image so that you can hang mount it. Other less expensive adhesive often cause your image to buckle on the portfolio page.

Items that must be trimmed to appropriate size must never be cut with scissors. The most preferable approach is to use an X-Acto blade with a metal ruler on a professional grade self-healing cutting mat. Special paper cutter platforms may also be used.

Cutting board Cutting tools Ruler
Self healing mat Deluxe X-Acto kit An indispensiblesteel rule


There are currently 10 items required as a minimum for your Portfolio.  Remember that by clicking on the above "portfolio icon" you will find the faculty's basic Portfolio Guidelines. Portfolios are currently submitted the Spring semester that you take the Professional Development course, 31T:185. Typically, not having taken a class from which a portfolio project originates is the only acceptable excuse for missing a required item. If you do not include an item, you must submit a letter of explanation when your portfolio is submitted for review.

All full time TAPP faculty participate in the Portfolio review and grading. We use a check sheet that has each required item on it and we all come to a consensus score (on a scale of 1 - 10) for each item and for an overall grade for the entire portfolio.

The Portfolio grade is a function of:

  • Quality and completeness of each item submitted. Quality includes
    • unity of design and layout as well as apparent care in creating your pages.
    • use of professional photography for design exhibits.
    • the quality of presentation and/or mounting of each item.
    • overall aesthetic sensibility.
  • After full review of individual items in the portfolio, the faculty step back and give the portfolio a final grade which is influenced not only by the individual pieces, but also by the overall professional impact of the portfolio.

Regarding the creativity of your portfolio. Creativity is primarily evidenced by the creativity and professionalism of the work you are displaying in your portfolio. Use of colored portfolio pages, ribbons and bows and other appurtenances in an attempt to be creative may actually distract the viewer from appreciating the real work: your design creations. Try to keep your portfolio neat and well laid out to enhance the presentation of your designs, which will be the most effective way of demonstrating your creativity.

Following are some portfolio page do's and don'ts:

  • Use the appropriate Canson paper, both color and weight.
  • Make sure your materials shown on the page are balanced in presentation.
  • It is important to preserve a border around the entire page. So avoid crowding the edges.
  • Hang mount your design elements on the page from behind using archival glue tape.
  • Ensure that your design elements are hung as straight as humanly possible. Use a ruler.
  • When using text in your portfolio do not mix font styles.
  • Uses images that are clean, non-wrinkled and non-pixilated.
  • Avoid soiling and smudging your pages when making them.
  • Avoid any personal references, especially a photograph of yourself! Never model your own designs.
  • Try to make a portfolio that is clean in presentation and avoids an overly busy scrap-booky look.
  • Whatever you mount on the board should communicate. Minimize text, but use text to communicate context.

Following are some photographs of well done portfolio pages:

Here are two portfolio pages designed to work as a pair. The page on the right demonstrates design inspiration and the left page, with the use of a sketch and professional photography, demonstrates a non-traditional material design from Creative Design Foundations. The Pearl Gray Canson paper does not detract from the colored borders the student used to highlight her designs and link the two pages conceptually.

portfolio example portfolio example

Here are another two portfolio pages that work as a pair. These pages are products of a Merchandising analysis. Note the balance of presentation, professional trimming of the exhibits, the perfect hang mounting, consistency of text fonts, non-crowding of the edges, and the use of art markers to add color to the flats. Crayons are not recommended.

portfolio example portfolio example

Below are two portfolio pages exhibiting U4ia plaids and stripes. Again, the trimming and hanging are professionally done. Note the coordination of color in the banners and the design inspirations with the actual plaids and stripes. These boards demonstrate excellent use of color and placement to create a highly creative display of nicely developed U4ia designs.

portfolio example portfolio example

The textile structures class yields a variety of U4ia woven structures that lend themselves to a nice portfolio demonstration. Please note the consistency of text font between the banner and the explanatory text. It is also a good demonstration of the Pearl Gray paper not detracting from the color of the U4ia fabric designs.

portfolio example