Last Portfolio Critique


I’m not sure how many critiques I can ask for before someone gets pissed, but this is the last.

I THINK I took a lot of Archinine’s suggestions. He helps a lot of people on here and I respect that. (Non-Sequitur too, but maybe I’m just kissing up because I know he’s tough)

Please note that this with an unrelated background and I’m applying in two months- so I don’t think I can compress content much more.

But am I missing anything big? Does my headshot look stupid or arrogant? Should I remove it? Is my name on the cover looking too arrogant? Any tips or suggestions before I start studying for the GREs?

Thanks guys!

Oct 24, 17 10:37 pm

Quite consistent, even the pattern of your jacket in the headshot looks like it was made with Rhino Panelling Tools. Funny though, at least to me, if you photoshop those air monitors in a different context they could pass as buildings and if you photoshop some of those buildings on a wall or ceiling in a living room they could pass as air monitor devices. Too much text still in my opinion, nobody is going to read all that, I certainly wouldn't, and some captions with the illustrations/drawings would have been nice. Good luck, you'll be fine I guess.

Oct 25, 17 2:44 am

My opinion means nothing but I will say this, I wish my own was this good. 

Oct 25, 17 6:43 am

Much improved!  I agree with randomised about there being too much text.  It would definitely definitely help to include captions for your images.  If you make any changes at all, I would say cut some text and add captions.  I'd remove the head shot and change your name, "applicant for...", and your contact info to match the fonts you chose for the rest of the CV.  It looks kind of chaotic to have 4+ font choices all in one small area, but the rest of your portfolio is very uniform in terms of typographic choice.  Also, as far as I know, the head shot is more popular in other countries, but in the US, it's not the norm due to fear of discrimination.

There is a style to all of your projects that make them all look very similar.  I'm not sure if that's to your benefit or not.  If you had any developed hand drawings or even more freehand sketch type works, I'd consider including them.  

Oct 25, 17 10:03 am
Much improved. Now that the projects are concise I can actually digest the info and I really like the mars space futuristic stuff you've got going. The cover page is good as it sets the tone and matches the other works - which are quite consistent. This could be good or bad depending on where you're applying. I see you put a single hand sketch in there. I always like seeing more sketches but again this really depends where you're applying. Sci arc Columbia penn Pratt will love this portfolio, Harvard Yale not so much.

As for the headshot - again this is dependent on where you apply. If you are applying to American schools I would recommend completely mixing the resume/headshot page as there is a separate place to upload the cv within the applications. Headshots are a big no in the states so consider removing that for the us applications. The image itself is cool and matches the works. I'd leave it as is for those places that require headshots.

The resume itself feels a bit clunky on the page. Maybe experiment with one column vs two? The image to the right isn't your strongest, I'd recommend using something else with more 'wow'.

I see you've insisted in keeping the air monitors in. The presentation is markedly improved. I actually like this project now. In fact it's the very thing that makes me remember this portfolio. That said I would consider pushing it between two arch projects, both to break up the similar looking arch works and to dive into arch first with a reminder later that your background is elsewhere. Have you any other visually presentable works that are non arch? Consider adding that. It's always great to see some non arch work from non arch applicants.

All in all it looks great and you should certainly find yourself accepted somewhere granted your grades and tests are up to snuff. On the gre use the flash cards. The math is 'easy' but the tricky part is the wording of the questions. Do a full books worth of practice tests until you are consistently landing 10% above your target score in math and verbal. The writing portion can't be self tested quite the same but in a lot of ways the studying for the other two portions actually helps you with that too. You've got to really study for it considering your timeline isn't going to allow for a second take prior to applications.

Best of luck
Oct 26, 17 11:57 am

Thanks a lot! You're really the most helpful guidance I have!

Nixing* not mixing
Oct 26, 17 11:59 am

I AGREE!!!!! Thank YOU! Thats constructive criticism! I'll work on it. Also that wasn't my SOP... Princeton requires 500 words in the portfolio and then another main <1000 word SOP. But if its cringey, just tell me and ill rework it. Whats the point in publicizing it? 

Also prestige-hunting... sure. But I love architecture and I want to try for the greatest program I can hopefully be accepted to. These school offer the best environments and opportunities to accomplish big things. 

Dec 6, 17 2:58 pm

Ok. I completely agree with you and I will rethink my SOP and try to add more hand-drawn work to my portfolio. But I am not giving up on those schools. I did a program at GSAPP and I loved the serious environment and the professors. I know my work can be competitive once Im actually immersed in an architecture program. I do see all of the points you are making and thank you.


What placebeyondthesplines said.

Dickwad's been posting non-stop about his portfolio all over asking for criticisms and feedback but refuses to acknowledge and heed them when advised. It's almost as if canvassing for critique is a pretext to show off the shitty mediocre work that which he perceives to be better than his fellow applicants. Lol

Dec 6, 17 5:04 pm

Ah well, maybe some people that handle the admissions at those programs read archinect too ;-)


One can only hope!
*fingers crossed*


im being respectful here and don't paint that picture of me. I don't think my work is better than anyone else's here. I took all of the criticism I got and changed a lot -especially this last week. I am also redoing my SOP because of what placebeyondthesplines said. You guys are making too much out of the fact that I added a link on the 2018 Applicant forum. 

Dec 10, 17 10:52 pm

I, for one, was only joking and wish you the best of luck getting into the school of your choice. Godspeed!


updated the SOP yet?

Dec 21, 17 7:37 pm

​I changed a lot because of what you said. Don't think I don't take feedback seriously.


Be careful. Cringe may make you die of laughter


i mean, "playing with legos as a child" (even just as an opening line) is literally the number one thing that admissions committees hate, so you didn't take my advice very well


Also certain schools have a much larger word count limit and so I was more specific with respect to professors and programs in those. But Princeton is 500 words. 

Dec 21, 17 10:24 pm

i hope we can get an update on how this all turns out once the decisions are sent out, but i suppose that all depends on your ego


Absolutely. Look its a dream to go to Princeton but I don't have a design background and so my work isn't as competitively up to level as other applicants. But I have safer options, or I can reapply. I don't mind sharing a rejection. Will edit the SOP though


there’s just no point in trying to head off this heartbreak for you I guess. Princeton is the longest longshot there is (you know it’s a class of ~12, right?), and your work and SOP aren’t
anywhere close to the level they’re looking for, even for a non-design background applicant.


how about that update?

Mar 13, 18 10:54 am

Didn't get into GSD and so Im doubtful about the other programs I applied to. 

But I'll rework everything and try again for next year. 

Mar 13, 18 11:11 am

Waitlisted GSAPP

Mar 13, 18 1:39 pm

for once, I’m going to take off my snark hat for a minute, because I think there are valuable lessons to be learned here (by you and by future applicants). I comment on these academia threads because I have a considerable breadth of experience with architecture schools. but at the end of the day I recognize that to you, I’m just a stranger on the internet who may or may not have a clue about how any of this process works.

rejection sucks, and I know you must be disappointed that this round of applications didn’t yield what you hoped it would. I’m glad to hear that you want to try again next year, and I sincerely wish you success. 

you came to this forum asking for feedback on your portfolio and SOP, presumably because you assumed that the forum’s contributors would be able to help you improve your admission chances. there’s no better way to improve your work than to get it critiqued by those who have more experience, but it’s important to understand the context in which that criticism is given. 

most of them have been taken down (such is the ephemeral nature of issuu), but in the last few years, dozens of portfolios have been posted here for review. often they are posted with some variation of “my GPA is terrible, can I get into Harvard,” which is insulting to the entire academic discipline (no student of medicine, law, engineering, etc. with awful grades would have any expectation of attending an Ivy League graduate program; treating architecture as the backdoor to elite educational institutions devalues our work). of course there are occasionally some talented students whose outstanding portfolios make up for poor undergraduate performance, though this is a small minority. 

some of us have seen enough portfolios to recognize what a successful one looks like. when we see thread after thread asking for feedback on applications that are impossibly beneath the level required to have even a remote chance, it speaks to a complete ignorance of what these schools expect (and a wholly unearned sense of entitlement to attend a top program). 

it’s frustrating to see, so sometimes the requested critique is harsher than what would be helpful or productive. but then again, the criticism you’d face if you did get accepted would make us forum jerks look downright friendly. it definitely goes overboard sometimes, but learning to listen to feedback (even when it’s not particularly kind or when it goes completely against what you wanted or expected to hear) and pull out the advice that’s worth taking is incredibly important.

the point that I’m taking forever to get to is that you did the right thing by posting your stuff here. I hope you do it again next year and that you are more receptive and less hardheaded about the critiques you receive (for example, how many people said to take out the headshot before you did it). 

you’re on the right track, and the whole thing is a massive learning process. but it’s critical to recognize how much you don’t yet know about design, and how much you can learn from others who know a lot more. 

I also think it’s pretty impressive that you’ve been so transparent about your application process; many students in your position wouldn’t publicly acknowledge unflattering results or would just give up.

So I honestly wish you luck with the next round, I apologize for being unnecessarily harsh to you before, and I will make an effort to be kinder and more productive with my comments in the future.

Mar 13, 18 2:04 pm

Alright haha. Thank you for your help. Definitely helped me raise my portfolio a few notches up but I guess I have another year of pissing you off with too many posts. But I really think I underestimated the importance of the SOA. It is annoying to see students with 3.0 GPAs being accepted to GSD because then students like me with a better GPA and OK (I think) portfolio get too cocky.


being realistic is also important, as is understanding the culture of the schools. the GSD’s huge size enables more students to be accepted at the fringes, while Princeton is so small that they necessarily only accept the absolute most spectacular applicants. I’ve seen portfolios that I would say will definitely get into the GSD. I don’t know if a portfolio exists that would ​definitely
get anyone into Princeton.

jpeg dot jpeg

This was an elucidating thread to read. I'd love to get some feedback on a portfolio of my own. I used this to apply for GSAPP NY/Paris, but I'm curious how it stacks up as a grad school application portfolio.

BFA Graphic Design, UGA,  3.42.

Mar 17, 18 11:58 am

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