Blog Post #020 – Breaking News: On The Way To University

Architecture School, Education, Life in General

This weeks post is simply a life update which I am incredibly excited about and is the next step in my creative creative and academic journey.

I will be attending the University of Nottingham to study Architecture in September of this year after receiving confirmation of the offer in the last couple of days. I have now made the step from a ‘pending architectural student’ to an actual architectural student which is what I have always wanted since I found out about this career path. But now my dreams are reality and it’s pretty scary but I feel like I’ll be ready to rise to challenge and I’m looking forward to it.

I will be heading to the Midlands with my friend and podcast co-host Hayden Day who will also be studying architecture. We’re looking forward to the sleepless nights and countless coffees.

Bring it on!

Blog Post #014 – Practice Makes Perfect: Drawing Every Day

Architecture School, Art, Life in General

“Practice makes perfect. After a long time practising, our work will become natural, skillful, swift and steady.” 

Bruce Lee

We are always told that if we want to become proficient at something then we must practice, practice and practice some more. The book Outliers: The Story of Success written by Malcolm Gladwell is the origin point of the 10,000-hour rule. He stated that “Researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours”. 

To put 10,000 hours into context that equates to approximately 417 days. That means that if you were to practise for 3 hours per day that would equal approximately 3333 days or a little over 9 years. I think you have to take this timeframe with a grain of salt because I believe that you have to push yourself to improve during these hours, otherwise you will simply stagnate and your skill level will not increase despite putting in the hours. 

With self-improvement and practise in my mind, I have decided to take it upon myself to become more confident and improve my drawing skills. I have decided to an emphasis on drawing as I have come to learn that communicating your ideas through drawing is a crucial element of practising architecture both in architecture school and professionally. I want to be confident in my ability to draw and refrain from reaching for the laptop and rendering softwares to develop my ideas. 

I have worked on my drawing skills in the past by enlisting the support of an art tutor and I saw my skill level improve during this period. However, now that I have been offered the gift of time during these strange times I want to try and make drawing part of my daily routine. 

Something that is helping me keep to this daily routine is the discovery of Kiyeon Kim who is an architect, designer and sketch lover. He has built up this huge library of ‘Draw With Me’ videos on both his Instagram and on Youtube. He has a distinctive style that I have come to enjoy emulating. I am getting into the habit of following one of his videos every day which is building my confidence to be able to draw architectural scenes. 

Instagram Account:

Youtube Account:

He predominantly uses a fountain pen in his sketches which has a striking effect, however, I am not quite brave enough to go straight in with ink so I use a rOtring 0.5 mechanical pencil and then overlay that with a 0.1 uni-ball fineliner. Similarly to Kim, I use graphic marker pens, specifically Winsor & Newton Markers to add a layer of colour to the drawing. I have included links to all of my drawing implements below if you want to get your own. 

rOtring Mechanical Pencils:

uni-ball Fineliners: 

Winsor & Newton Promarker Set 1:

I have included some of my own sketches inspired by his videos below. I think it is a really good way to get into a habit of drawing and it is a lot easier than staring a blank page and struggling to see where to start. 

Perhaps I have inspired you to start practising drawing or perhaps something else that you are interested in and want to see your skill level increase. Whatever it is, use this time to try and work at it and build it into your routine, once it is in there then it becomes second nature much like brushing your teeth. Start your 10,000-hour journey today. 

Happy practising! 

Episode #003 – Kyle Sinko: Successful Archi Student Interview

Advice, Architecture School, Life in General, Podcast

Welcome to the show notes for Discussed It, a podcast about Architecture, Sport and Anything Else We Want. Read ahead for a written breakdown of each podcast episode, photos, links and bonus content that didn’t make the cut for the podcast. Happy reading and if you want to check out the podcast where myself and Hayden Day discuss a little about a lot, follow the links below. 

You can listen by clicking play above or by searching Discussed It Inception on your favourite podcast players such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Deezer and many more. 

Welcome to the show notes for the third episode of the Discussed It podcast. We are very excited to introduce our first guest onto our podcast, Kyle Sinko. Kyle is known within the architecture community as the creator behind the SuccesfulArchiStudent website where he has created an online community for architecture students all across the world. I have included a link to this website below, I highly recommend checking it out.

We will also be finishing off the show with our ‘Thing’ of the Week, where Kyle will be letting us know what ‘Thing’ he has found interesting and exciting and is happy to share with Hayden and I. Make sure you stick around for that!

This episode, we:

  • Invite our very first guest, Kyle Sinko, architecture student and creator of the SuccessfulArchiStudent brand
  • Discuss our ‘Thing Of The Week’ along with Kyle
  • and much more…


Below I have outlined the general gist of the questions that we put over to Kyle to answer, throughout the episode we go slightly off-piste with the conversation but we tried to allow for a chronological narrative that works through Kyle’s journey to date and then looking forward to the future. 

If you fancy finding out what Kyle’s insightful and interesting comments in reply to these questions then head over to this podcast episode and give it a listen. You won’t regret it! 

  1. Would you be able to tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from and what is that you do?  
  2. So, let’s start from the beginning. What do you remember as your first memorable encounter of architecture, and did this have any significance going forward?
  3. How was your experience of school, and did you feel prepared to study at university upon leaving?
  4. Would you be able to tell us a bit about the route to becoming an architect in Australia, as I think it is different to the UK and where are you on that journey? 
  5. Online, you are known as the successful archi student, but what drives you to fulfil that title and to succeed in such a competitive environment?
  6. You have quoted Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People as one of the essential reads, what about this concept do you believe to be so important?
  7. What are some of the best ways to network as a student?
  8. What made you turn to Youtube as a form of promoting your story and message? 
  9. We understand you have formulated an e-book and are in the process of creating a new one, would you be able to tell us a bit about it? 
  10. Which other avenues have you thought about exploring with your existing brand?
  11. How have you been able to balance your academic studies at university and the progression of your brand, SuccesfulArchiStudent?
  12. What do you do to relax outside of the world of architecture? Can it be a struggle to get that work/life balance? 
  13. What would you say is your greatest achievement so far? 
  14. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? 
  15. How would you like to be remembered?
  16. As your brand is all about helping architecture students, could you give us one thing that you think makes an architecture student successful? 
  17. So Kyle, if people want to find your work or get in touch, where can they find you? 

‘Thing’ Of The Week

As I am sure you know by now within this section of the podcast each of us will choose their favourite thing that we have seen over the week. This could be absolutely anything ranging from a product, food, architect etc. that has stuck in our minds. Most probably our ‘thing’ of the week will be utterly useless to yourself, but you never know. To change it up this week we have Kyle joining us for this particular segment. Read ahead to see what the three of us come up with and see whether you would be interested in any of them. 

To kick off the proceedings I will reveal Kyle’s ‘Thing Of The Week’. He chose a book called the ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’, written by Tim Ferris. Kyle expands on what he has learnt from reading the book and it sounds like a great read, I will give it a go for sure. 

Moving on to my chosen ‘Thing Of The Week’, I decided to also go for a book. This particular book is called ‘The Art Of Resilience’ by Ross Edgley. This is a brand new book that was only released at the end of last week. I think Ross is a bit of a legend and is well known for becoming the first person to swim his way around the UK. For 157 days he swam 6 hours on, 6 hours off and never set foot on land. An epic feat and it looks like his book is of similarly epic proportions. He is so honest and you feel as if you’re getting to know him better and better with every page. Highly recommend it, go and check it out! 

And to finish off this weeks ‘Thing Of The Week’, Hayden enlightened us on an artist that has captivated his attention. Her name is Cornelia Parker who is an English visual artist that is best known for her sculpture and installation art. Hayden was telling Kyle and myself about when he saw her work in our local art gallery, the Turner Contemporary in Margate and how he felt influenced by her work and the influence it had on him. It sounded like she is worth checking out, I have seen some of her work and her installations are rather momentous and impressive.  

I have included a link to a book that gives some further information regarding her life and work. 

And, that wraps our very first podcast episode featuring a guest. Hayden and I thoroughly enjoyed having Kyle on the show and we look forward to having him back on to see how he’s getting on further down the line. I know that he is working on some exciting projects that we can’t wait to see. As mentioned earlier I highly recommend checking out Kyle’s website and Youtube channel where he posts a host of hugely insightful and interesting content that has been of great use to myself and so many other architecture students across the world. If you do want to head over to that I have included the link to his website below.

I hope that the show notes have provided a further layer of communication between the two of us and you, our listeners, by providing additional information, but I’m sure it won’t beat listening to us chat away first hand. We hope that you enjoyed listening and will consider subscribing and making the Discussed It podcast a part of your weekly routine. 

Happy listening, everyone! 

Blog Post #011 – Starting A Podcast

Architecture School, Life in General, Podcast

I thought I would pen my thoughts about some of the new and exciting developments in my life at the moment. Whilst stuck in lockdown I have been determined to try and remain motivated and productive, now that I have been granted this gift of time.

One of the first projects that I embarked on early on in this lockdown period was the development of the website you’re reading this blog post on. The genesis of has been at the back of mind over the last couple of years and I am pleased that it is now looking like it does now and it is starting to fill up with content.

The second project and the subject of this particular blog post is the creation of a brand new podcast that is co-hosted between myself and good friend Hayden Day. We have spoken about the possibility of starting a podcast in the past and I think we have got to the point where we have some time to concentrate on making this both look and sound good. Well, we hope so anyway, we’ve only uploaded two episodes at the time of writing this blog post.

I am really excited about this opportunity and I think that podcasting is a new and exciting realm of content release that is most definitely on the upwards curve in terms of popularity. I see it as a way to improve a host of skills such as writing, communication, networking, production, presenting and many more.

Before I ramble on anymore I’m sure you want to hear about what this podcast actually is. So, welcome to the Discussed It podcast. We started this podcast as a way to fuel our creative personalities and we hope to discuss a host of topics within our podcast episodes. These topics do not follow a set pattern and we want to be able to discuss anything and everything. However, I think as we are both pending architecture students some areas of discussion will lean towards architecture organically. We also hope to have some exciting guests on the show with us and we see this as an opportunity to grow our networking web and to get to know people we never would have the opportunity to without this podcast.

We have decided to release an episode weekly and will be available to listen to every Sunday morning, perfect for some casual listening on a lazy day. We recognise that these time pressures could become strenuous especially when we start university. However, we believe that this is a good way to concentrate our energy and could lead us to exciting opportunities.

We would love it if you would take the time to have a listen to our podcast. If you do fancy it I have included links to the podcast below.

Happy listening everyone and cheers to exciting lockdown projects.

Episode #002 – Ready To Go: Preparing For Architecture School

Advice, Architecture School, Life in General, Podcast

Welcome to the show notes for Discussed It, a podcast about Architecture, Sport and Anything Else We Want. Read ahead for a written breakdown of each podcast episode, photos, links and bonus content that didn’t make the cut for the podcast. Happy reading and if you want to check out the podcast where myself and Hayden Day discuss a little about a lot, follow the links below. 

You can listen by clicking above or by searching Discussed It on your favourite podcast players such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Deezer and many more. 

Welcome back to the second edition of the show notes for Episode 2 of our brand new podcast. We are both super excited to return this week with both these show notes and the podcast episode. I hope that the show notes will add that further layer of communication between the two of us and our listeners by providing additional information but I’m sure it won’t beat listening to us chat away first hand. We hope that you enjoy listening and will consider subscribing and making the Discussed It podcast a part of your weekly routine. 

Within this weeks episode, we:

  • Discuss our preparations for starting university and studying architecture. 
  • Review how our week has gone with the return of our Weekly Round-up. 
  • and much more…

Topic 1 – Preparing For Architecture School 

This week we decided to concentrate our discussion on our preparations for university and specifically studying architecture as a subject. 

This is something that both myself and Hayden are going through as I am sure many across the world are also. It is a slightly confusing time as you are unsure of what to concentrate on most to prepare you best for the years to come. We had a general discussion on the avenues we are exploring as individuals which range from the creative aspect of architecture school to the technical, as well as skills such as cooking and washing. There are a plethora of skills that need to be developed that will support us in our transition. 

We broke the discussion down into the idea of skill acquisition. To study architecture there are so many different aspects of the process that need to be practised and perfected so we grouped them into three categories. 

  1. Creative Skills
  2. Writing Skills 
  3. Presenting Skills
  1. Creative Skills

We then further dismantled what creative skills entails and spoke about the importance of hand sketching, particularly in 1st year. To tackle that I have been working on my sketching skills using Kim Kanone who is a content creator that uploads videos walking through how he sketches buildings within urban and rural landscapes. To build up consistency I have been trying to sketch daily and using a calendar checklist to keep myself motivated. I have included a link to his Instagram page below. 


In terms of supplies, I have started to accumulate some tools that I have found to be useful already. These include mechanical pencils with different line weights (0.3, 0.5, 0.7) and ink fineliners also with different line weights from 0.05 to 0.8. I have also purchased some sketchbooks to fill, my choice of sketchbook has been the Moleskine A5 sketchbook for my random sketches and the Muji A5 Dot Grid Sketchbook to use for my different project at university. I want to keep my thoughts together rather than using random sheets of paper. I have included links to all the mentioned products below. 

rOtring Mechanical Pencils:

Uniball Fineliners:

Moleskine A5 Sketchbook:

Muji A5 Dot Grid Notebook:

We then discussed slightly more technical creative skills such as the software packages that we are trying our hand at which will make them feel less foreign when we come to use them for real. I have outlined a list of the software that we mentioned in the podcast. 

  • The Adobe package (Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom) 
  • AutoCAD 
  • Revit 
  • SketchUp 
  • Rhino 

There are many more that we will be expected to use at some point but these were the ones that we mainly discussed. 

Staying technical we spoke about laptops as Hayden is looking to buy a new one before he gets to university. Below I am going to outline some of the specs that we discussed and some additional that really are a must-have to be able to comfortably run the programs above without going crazy and throwing your laptop through a window! 

CPU (Processor): Ideally Intel Core i7 or newer as i5 will struggle 

System RAM: 16 GB minimum, more preferred 

Hard Drive (Storage): 512 GB SSD or 750 GB/7200 RPM minimum, more preferred

Monitor/Display: 15” minimum (second monitor recommend) 

Realistically to achieve these specs I would lean towards recommending a Windows laptop but if you do have an Apple laptop, don’t panic! Just be conscious that you will be unable to run some programs on Apple and may be required to upgrade. But, an Apple should get you through year

2. Writing Skills 

I have come to learn that architecture is all about communicating ideas to others, this could be a tutor in university or a client in an architecture firm. This being so important it is a must to try and develop your communication skills. A person can communicate through a host of mediums. For example, writing is utilised regularly. That is why creating this website and committing myself to regular blog posts and I am seeing my writing skills improve both on this blog and in other situations where I am required to write.

3. Presenting Skills 

Running with the realisation of the importance of communication in architecture we spoke about presenting. To most standing up and presenting to others is a challenge as both I and Hayden agreed. Despite these challenges, it is crucial to add oral presentation to your arsenal of skills. To tackle this there are many ways to do this. These could include just talking to more new people. This could be at an event, over the phone or even when you’re on the walk. Just build that confidence up by talking to strangers, with time and practice it will become much easier. 

In my situation, I have utilised the creation of a podcast to become more confident in my presentation of ideas and opinions. As well as that when we have guests on the show that will provide an opportunity to talk to new people and build relationships with them. I’m not suggesting that everyone should start a podcast but I will give a piece of advice here. 

‘The first step is always the hardest, once you take it the rest is all downhill’ 

Just send that email, approach that person and say hello and you will see that everyone is not that scary. Just remember, even your best friends were strangers. 

The Weekly Round-Up 

I feel that it would be wise to offer some explanation for this segment which will become a recurring section of the podcast each week, or at least we think it will be. The general idea is that every week, each of us will choose three weeks that best sum up that week trying to be as honest as possible and then will explain the reasoning behind the selection of the words. The chosen three words will be kept secret from the other person until recording which we hope will allow for some interesting conversation. 

In this week’s episode, The Weekly Round-Up interrupts our lengthy conversation about preparing for architecture school to allow us to discuss how our weeks went. In these show notes, I will provide our words but if you want any explanations then you’ll have to give our podcast a listen. Can’t give it all away here sorry readers! 

My three words of the week were: 

  1. Showers 
  2. Working 
  3. Triathlon 

And Hayden’s words of the week were: 

  1. Sun
  2. Cladding
  3. Gervais 

‘Thing’ Of The Week

Not dissimilar to The Weekly Roundup, this will also be a recurring segment of the show. In this section of the podcast, each of us will choose their favourite thing that we have seen over the week. This could be absolutely anything ranging from a product, food, architect etc. that has stuck in our minds. Most probably our ‘thing’ of the week will be utterly useless to yourself, but you never know. 

This week Hayden’s Thing Of The Week was: 


“If anyone doesn’t know Extras is a TV show that was written by Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant” and the premise of the show is that they would“have on celebrity guests that play a satirical character of themselves”. Examples of these celebrity guests include “Orlando Bloom, Ross Kemp and Shawn Williamson”. 

I think it is clear that Hayden enjoys this show with him saying that it is “probably one the best sit-coms ever written…second to the Office but very slightly” with the show being “expertly written and such a unique idea” in the way that the show is set up. 

And who knows you might come to love it as much as Hayden does if you fancy checking it out I have included a link below: 


BBC Iplayer:

Moving on, my Thing Of The Week was: 

“The Last Dance” 

For those that don’t know The Last Dance is “a brand-new Netflix documentary series” which premiered on the 19th April 2020. The series “follows Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls”. 

I am not ashamed to say that I have binged this series from start to finish as I had almost all of the episodes backed up ready to watch. I enjoyed learning both about Michael Jordan as a person as well as the NBA as a sport which I have not played a massive amount of attention to. However, my perspective on the game has changed and I will start taking more of an interest. 

Directed by Jason Hehir, the series incorporates both footages from a film crew that were granted behind the scenes access in 1997 to the Chicago Bulls journey that led to their 6th NBA championship run in 8 years and interviews with NBA personalities such as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson. 

Even if you’re not a sports fan you may enjoy understanding how aspiring individuals tick and how teams can reach such heights. It was interesting to watch how Jordan dealt with becoming such a global icon and how it affected those around him. I highly recommend you give it a watch and I have included the link that allows you to find the series on Netflix.

I hope that the show notes have provided that further layer of communication between the two of us and you, our listeners, by providing additional information, but I’m sure it won’t beat listening to us chat away first hand. We hope that you enjoyed listening and will consider subscribing and making the Discussed It podcast a part of your weekly routine. 

I’m looking forward to writing the show notes for next weeks episode, there may be someone joining myself and Hayden on the podcast. Stay tuned for exciting developments.

See you next week!

Blog Post #009 – My First Architectural Internship

Architecture School, Life in General

Information gathering allows for informed decision making

Architecture is a big decision. It is said that it does not become just a vocation but a way of life. It is seemingly impossible to separate the two, work and life, and for some that will be something that they can deal with, even crave. But for others, this may be too much and can cause them to burn out and lose their love for architecture. 

Before taking a small step into the world of architecture by applying to study at a school of architecture, I decided to scope out the field first. To do this, I decided to find myself some work experience in an architecture firm and using the information I yearned from this experience, I will be able to make a far more informed decision, rather than just looking at the pages of a prospectus. 

This is something that I recommend to anyone who is thinking of studying architecture at university or through an apprenticeship. Trying to secure a work placement at any architectural firm will offer yourself an insight into what it is like to be an architect. I have found it very hard to gain a sense of what this felt like through reading a blog post, reading a book or watching a YouTube video. This initial step will save surprises further down the line when you are more committed to the cause. 

Good networking is key in today’s highly competitive world.  

This initial step is of course sometimes the hardest thing when trying to seek out a work placement. It can be daunting trying to open a conversation with people you don’t know but it is important to know that every architectural professional you speak to was in your position at one time and will be able to relate to what you are going through. Of course, you may be rejected, but do not take this personally. It is more likely to be because they are unable to facilitate you at that time or they have too much work on. But you will never know if you do not ask, there is no harm in making that initial correspondence. These conversations that you begin to have all start your network that is so important going forward in the profession. Good networking and the maintenance of relationships can pay dividends in the future; this could be in the form of a job interview or collaborative purposes. 

My personal experiences

I thought I would mention some of my initial experiences in the architectural world so that you can understand what can be possible.

I first approached a local firm in Ramsgate, Kent called del Renzio & del Renzio. After coming in for an initial conversation with the firm partner I was lucky to be invited in for one day every other week for a year as well as working during some school holidays. During this time I experienced how a small scale architectural firm worked and learnt physical model making skills, as well as being introduced to certain software packages. This particular experience was pivotal to my decision to apply to study architecture at university. The professionals within the firm also gave me support in my portfolio creation as well as offering advice on a whole host of subjects. 

One thing that did cause me stress during the first few weeks working here was the tea order. Trying to remember 6-8 different tea orders and what mug matched up with what person, whilst I was still mixing up people’s names, was a recipe for disaster. After a few embarrassing mistakes, I adopted a post-it note method where I would jot down the tea order and stick it onto the mug. Problem solved! It does get easier over time so don’t worry too much.

I also secured a week-long work placement at a large scale architectural firm in London, HTA Design. This was invaluable as I was able to see how a larger firm differed from a smaller firm. During this week I worked with a host of individuals on a social housing project and was able to understand some of the processes required to push a project along. Within this time I worked with 3D printing and modelling software to create a scale model for the project as well as receiving useful advice and experience. It also gave me a sense of what it was like to work in the city. 

These two experiences provided with the information needed to make an informed decision that architecture was the route for me. This allowed me to look forward towards my studies free of any doubt that can creep in when choices are made.

I have gone through my experiences and hopefully, you can see how this should be something to think about when working out whether architecture is a route to take. Good luck and all the best in your journey. 


Blog Post #003 – Applying to Architecture School: Portfolio Advice

Architecture School, Life in General

I have decided to create a post offering some support in creating a portfolio to submit to universities as part of their application process. In all of the architecture courses that I applied to and those that I looked into required a portfolio that included a range of artwork. This range could be in the form of sketching, painting, collage, graphic design, the list goes on. There may also be additional tasks that are specific for the university that you have applied to. This will often be a piece or series of artwork in response to a brief. 

In most cases, for UK universities it is not imperative to have studied Art before attending university so this portfolio could be wholly made up of work completed outside of your academic subjects. So do not feel that your subject choice has to be a barrier to studying architecture. 

I applied to the University of Sheffield, University of Nottingham, Kent University, UAL (University Arts of London) and UCL (University College London). From these universities, I received an offer from Sheffield, Nottingham and Kent. I was invited to an interview at UAL but was unsuccessful in receiving an offer and I pulled out of the UCL application process when I decided that it was not the university for me and chose to firmly accept an offer from another university. All of these universities required me to create a strong portfolio to compete with the large volume of applicants that each university receives each year. Both Sheffield and UCL required a specific task completed which I will go into more detail about later on. 

What software to use? 

I used Google Slides to create mine and then downloaded into a PDF file for upload to each university. I found the interface simple to navigate and did the job for me. Microsoft Powerpoint would work just as well and InDesign is also a good software platform for portfolio creation. 

In my experience universities require a PDF file so creating an online portfolio won’t be suitable for this particular situation but are always useful to create to further promote your work when you progress throughout your studies. 

Tip #1 – Research 

Make sure you look into the university that you are creating the portfolio for. I would not suggest creating a one size fits all portfolio as certain universities ask for evidence of sketchbook work for example. Others want to see your artistic process that has led towards a resolved piece where others may just want to see images of your final pieces. Taking the time to do this research will pay dividends when your portfolio is being scrutinised and it fits the criteria that they are specifically looking for. 

For example, for my UAL portfolio, I looked into their requirements and I saw that they wanted to see sketchbook work. So, I simply scanned in a selection of my sketchbook pages to express my readiness to practice and develop my drawing technique. On the first slide below I included examples of still life drawing with the shells and on the second slide I displayed my understanding for the effects of light on an object and the importance of this to create a flat drawing that seems 3-dimensional. 

Careful research and planning are also vitally important in avoiding portfolio submission deadlines. Also, carefully read any documentation that the university sends you as it may include a request for further documents from yourself. This could be in the form of a cover letter from a teacher that proves that the work that is being submitted is that of your own and not another person. Something to consider is the ability to compress your PDF file to a small enough size to upload to the university. They will often ask for a file that is around 6mb. Most portfolios exceed this due to the inclusion of several high-quality PDFs. There are some online programmes and tutorials that can walk you through the process that allows for compression of a PDF file without pixelation of your images in the portfolio but don’t leave this to the night before the deadline as I must admit I did do myself. Save yourself any stress and figure it out in advance. 

Tip #2 – Keep it simple 

I utilised a simplistic design within my portfolio and tried to avoid layering too many images upon a single slide to prevent the observer feeling overwhelmed and I think it is important to maintain a mentality of quality over quantity to avoid having certain pieces bringing down the overall quality of your portfolio because you want to show the volume of work you have completed. Only select your best work for your portfolio. 

In the images above they show the lack of a complicated design, I consciously decided to only use 2 colours and avoid the complexity of some themes that can be found preset on Google Slides and Microsoft Powerpoint. The lack of bright colours and overcomplicated design means that the focus is primarily on the work that I have selected, which ultimately what they will base their decision upon. 

Something to consider when compiling your portfolio is the order of your work. There is no right way to do this, to be honest. You could order your slides in the following: 

  • Chronological order of completion 
  • Grouped in artistic technique (drawings, paintings, etc.) 
  • Starting and finishing the portfolio with your best work 

There are other ways in which you can order your work but in my case, I chose to insert my best work at the start of my portfolio and finish with an equally strong piece. I felt that this started the portfolio well and captured the attention of the observer and then with the strong final piece it would tie together the portfolio as a whole. I also used grouping throughout and kept similar artistic techniques together, for example, the two slides below were one before the other and consisted only of photography which did then not appear anywhere else in the portfolio. 

In terms of the description text for your pieces, I suggest keeping them short and sweet. Ensure to use concise and technical language that gets across what it is and perhaps your hoped effect of the piece. Avoid any kind of waffle! 

Tip #3 – Maintain a range of artistic skill  

It is easy to assume that because you are applying to an architecture course it is crucial to include work that is related to architecture in some shape or form. In most cases, any computer-aided design, perhaps AutoCAD or SketchUp are frowned upon and they would rather an applicant to display their artistic talent through mediums such as drawing, painting, construction etc.

This lends itself to my final tip, to include a range of artistic skills. This could consist of a multitude of skills. For example, you may include sketching, painting, photography, collage and much more. And, if you feel that as an artist you only focus on one or two artistic techniques, push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. It does not have to be perfect but the fact that you have taken it upon yourself to try these new skills will be attractive to universities. For example, in my portfolio, I tried to do this and included pencil drawing, oil painting, graphic design, physical modelling, photography and woodwork. 

A word of advice that I received from the feedback from unsuccessful applications and accomplished artists around me, universities like to see a lot of drawing work. So I would push the boat out with practising and refining your drawing skills to be able to create a large pool of drawn work to select from. This is something that I lacked and I have now taken the time to rectify this and now draw for pleasure much more regularly and in doing this my confidence in my own drawing ability is increasing.

Specific task examples:

As mentioned earlier for a couple of my university applications I was required to submit specific pieces for their university. This is crucial to the application and is why it is important to fully understand the brief and know what it’s deadlines are. The universities that required additional work were the University of Sheffield and UCL. I will display both of my responses to the task set and offer some advice if you were applying to these particular universities. 

University of Sheffield: 

This is an excerpt from the University of Sheffield Portfolio Submission Guidance leaflet: 

“As a further test of your critical, representational and observational skills, we ask that you submit a piece of work that illustrates an aspect of the street/road/lane that you live on. This can be in any medium and should be accompanied by a short text of around 200 words.”

Below is my response to the above task with the attached 200 words: 

This is my piece responding to the brief on ‘your street’. I decided to draw inspiration from David Hockney who was prolific in cubist photography. He would take multiple photos of a scene and concentrate on some areas and ignore others. I decided to dive into certain details that would otherwise often go unnoticed in my street. These differing perspectives of certain elements were then brought together to create an analytical view of my street. 

I decided to link an artist to the completed piece which is something that I recommend as it displays that you have a broader understanding of the art community and the influences of certain people in that community. I would also advise trying something slightly unusual perhaps as it will separate you from the rest and avoid answering the brief in a very literal way such as simply drawing ‘your street’. Try and layer your response with some insightful artistic knowledge and exploration. 

Your specific piece is then included as a slide in your complete electronic portfolio that you upload online. 

University College London: 

The brief changes every year so I am unable to give direct advice on what to include but I will briefly explain how the task is set up and what is required of you. 

You will be sent an email including a brief that will require you to respond to a certain theme that changes year on year. You will be asked to submit five A4 pieces as frames of a storyboard. The drawings must be quick and personal responses and not drawn from photographs. It is required that the drawings explore different media, two must be drawn with pencil, one mixed media and one a photograph. A unique aspect of the UCL drawing task is the time pressures. One drawing must be completed in 5 minutes, one in 15 minutes, one in 30 minutes and one in 60 minutes. The final piece has no set timings but has to be in response to an image that is given to you on the brief. 

The advice that I can give is to try and think outside the box and be inventive with what you decide to do. Don’t worry too much about it being perfect as they are aware of the time constraints when looking over them. This particular task in my case had to be sent in the post to London so make sure you allow enough time for it to arrive before the deadline.  

I have included my full university application portfolio at the end of this post for reference for prospective students that may find it useful when creating their own. I hope that this post may provide some assistance. If you have any questions shoot them over!

Good luck! 

Blog Post #001 – A Warm Welcome

Life in General

Hello and welcome to my first ever blog post on my new website. I want to offer complete transparency and admit that at this moment I am unsure of what direction this blog will take. I am a pending architectural student hoping to study architecture at a UK university come the autumn of 2020 so I feel that I will have an architectural theme running through my blogging activity. I wish to share my experiences of attending university and of course studying architecture. I have heard lots of good things about studying architecture but these have been coupled with the warnings of constant all-nighters and extreme sleep deprivation, dreaded crits where the work you have slaved over is ripped up and the non-existence of any kind of social life. 

I have no idea to what extent these warnings hold any truth however, I will let you know in 6 months when I get stuck into my first year of architecture school. I severely hope that this will not be the case and I will enjoy my university years. 

I have utilised the website that this blog resides within as an outlet to display the work that I have completed in the form of a portfolio and I hope to expand upon the finished elements that will be seen in that portfolio. This might be in the form of talking about how and why certain things that I constructed came to fruition. A blog post may be a collection of images from a specific trip that I have made, perhaps to a particular city renowned for its architecture and art and open a dialogue of my experiences whilst visiting. Another kind of post may have a slightly more personal touch with a discussion on my experiences around certain things going in my life such as current events, education, social life etc. 

I hope that you will join me on this journey into the architecture world as well as the big, wide world. 

Let’s see how it goes!