National Portfolio Day: What’s It All About?

National Portfolio Day: What’s It All About?

Have you ever been to a college fair, a school presentation, or been scanning the web and come across the words, “National Portfolio Day?” Ever wondered what those words actually mean? If you’re a high school student and interested in going to art school, chances are, you probably have!

As of August 1, 2021 in-person events are currently scheduled in the following cities: Atlanta, GA; Dallas, TX; Boston, MA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Columbus, OH; Chicago, IL; Kansas City, MO; Minneapolis, MN; Mesa, AZ; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Miami, FL; and Sarasota, FL.

So, what is National Portfolio Day? In a nutshell, these are dedicated days that take place all over the US, Canada, and even Europe (and recently, online), where students can attend – for free – and receive multiple portfolio reviews from accredited art schools, all in one place. Intrigued? Let’s learn some history.

According to their website,, “The National Portfolio Day Association (NPDA) was created in 1978 solely for the organization and planning of National Portfolio Days. The Association consists of representatives that hold regional accreditation and accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), or Substantial Equivalency status. NPDA is the only organization of its kind and the membership represents the highest standard of visual arts education available in the world.”

So to break that down, this means that the only art schools who are able to participate in National Portfolio Days and provide feedback on your work are those who are fully accredited, both regionally and nationally, so you know you’re receiving top-notch critiques and advice.

“When is the best time to attend a National Portfolio Day,” you may ask? Any time really! It’s never too early to start discussing your work with others. But most students will attend when they start getting serious about building their artwork portfolios ahead of their college applications, typically sophomore through senior year, depending on where they are considering applying and the deadlines of their applications. But there are no requirements or restrictions to attend, just the desire to receive constructive criticism and improve your work.

“How do I attend?” It’s easy – you turn up! These events are free to attend and there is no registration required (*you can pre-register for online events). The 2021 National Portfolio Day Schedule will soon be posted on their website. Check out the locations and see if there’s an event in a city near you.

Our recommendations on event days: arrive early, there are lines; bring a few people with you so they can act as place holders in additional lines; scope out the top four to five schools you want to visit before attending but don’t be disappointed if you can’t make it to all of them on the day; try to bring at least some physical work with you (instead of showing everything digitally); bring something with you to take notes; bring some water and snacks, it can be a long day of standing; have fun with it, receiving feedback from people who really know their stuff is one of the best ways to improve as an artist!

In Fall 2020/Spring 2021, the decision was made to move all in-person events to an online format, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the Association is planning to hold both in-person and online events, which could be subject to change depending on the current CDC guidance and recommendations by the states and government.

“So what will I learn?” All kinds of things. You can ask for a very specific kind of review, like what that particular school may be looking for in an admissions portfolio and whether or not the requirements are major-specific. Or it could be more broad feedback, such as how to improve your life-drawing skills, perspective work, brush work, tips/tricks for showing light and volume, etc. It also gives you the chance to ask that school any other questions you have about the program you’re interested in, or their admissions requirements. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not scary… and whatever happens at National Portfolio Day will NOT, in any way, negatively affect your admissions process at any of the schools you apply to. These days are all about positive feedback and building your confidence!

Ringling College of Art and Design will host the event in Sarasota, FL on their campus currently scheduled for January 23, 2022. Don’t forget to keep a close eye on the schedule:

We hope to see you at a National Portfolio Day – online or in-person – very soon! If you have any further questions or would like to speak with an Admissions Counselor, reach out at or call 941-309-0195. Learn more about applying to Ringling College at

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