Portfolio Plus Program

  • Studio Art concentration. Photo by James Byard.
    Studio Art concentration. Photo by James Byard.
  • Drawing studio.
    Drawing studio.
  • Fashion Design concentration. Photo by Joe Angeles.
    Fashion Design concentration. Photo by Joe Angeles.
  • Photo by James Byard.
    Photo by James Byard.
  • Communication Design concentration. Photo by Joe Angeles.
    Communication Design concentration. Photo by Joe Angeles.
  • Drawing studio. Photo by David Johnson.
    Drawing studio. Photo by David Johnson.

2017 Portfolio Plus Program
July 9-29, 2017

*The application period for our summer 2017 Pre-College Programs is now closed.

The Portfolio Plus Program invites high school students to take college-level art and design courses. Students spend their mornings learning the fundamentals of drawing and their afternoons pursuing a studio concentration of their choice. With guidance from Sam Fox School faculty, students work throughout our intensive three-week program to develop strong portfolios for college admission. Studio work is rounded out by organized trips to museums, visits to artists' and designers' studios, and workshops.

This program is recommended for rising juniors and seniors in high school. Upon successful completion, you earn 3 college credits.


Each weekday morning, you take part in an introductory Drawing course. Using a variety of media, you practice fundamentals of line, composition, form, space, and modeling. Demonstrations and illustrated lectures supplement studio sessions, in addition to a trip to the Study Room for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

During the afternoon session, you pursue your cohice of one of three concentrations, which reflect the degree paths offered through the Sam Fox School's Bachelor of Fine Arts program:

Communication Design: Communication Design is the intersection of graphic design, illustration, and interaction design. You learn visual problem solving using elements of two-dimensional design such as visual hierarchy, composition, typography, color, and image making. The course explores both traditional and digital tools, with assignments supported by workshops aimed at developing computer skills.

Fashion Design: This concentration focuses on the relationship between clothing and contemporary culture. You begin by learning to conceptualize and illustrate your designs two-dimensionally. Sketches translate into wearable artworks, with a focus on construction, proportion, and form. Your work culminates in a final garment constructed from alternative materials.

Studio Art: In this concentration, you survey contemporary approaches
to visual art, learn to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries, and try incorporating such practices into your own artwork. Exploratory in nature, this course introduces you to thinking conceptually and tying your work to broader social issues and cultural conversations. The course culminates in the creation
of a thematic body of work.

In addition to the drawing course and studio concentrations, a series of weekend workshops in the areas of printmaking, photography, and book-making provide students opportunities to explore additional media and techniques.

Course work is complemented by additional events and activities, including:
- Wednesday Guest Lectures by artists, designers, and curators.
- Artwork documentation workshop.
- Presentations on topics such as research, portfolio preparation, and the college admission process.
- Field trips to Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, The Luminary, Firecracker Press, fort gondo compound for the arts, and local artists' and designers' studios.
- Design and installation of a final exhibition of work.


John Early
Program Director; Lecturer, Studio Art
John Early is an interdisciplinary visual artist whose work documents the dynamics of permanence and change in the world around us. Two of his current projects include a self-published artist's book of snapshots from Florence, Italy, and a sculptural installation created as part of the Modern Segregation Program Initiative headed by WashU's American Culture Studies program. As an instructor, he strives to make the studio a laboratory for experimentation and risk-taking to help students build confidence as makers, critical thinkers, and problem solvers. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, he has lived in St. Louis for the past twelve years.

Amy Auman
Lecturer, Communication Design
Amy Auman is a visual designer, writer, and educator. She enjoys integrating images and typography to tell compelling stories in a variety of forms, from the messages a brand sends, to the narrative behind a data set, to a set of images within a book. Her background includes book design and information design, but much of her current work is focused on branding and identity. Auman is passionate about the way design can make the world around us easier to navigate and understand. In class, she encourages design thinking through deep investigation using both traditional and non-traditional media, including the computer as a tool to manifest ideas. Projects range from illustration to design to communicate a desired intent.

Liz Guilmet
Lecturer, Drawing

Liz Guilmet is an artist currently living and working in St. Louis, and has exhibited her work internationally, including in Greece and Italy. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan in 2008 and a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Art from WashU in 2014. She will be teaching drawing for the Portfolio Plus Program. Some of her recent work is both a celebration of the forgotten relics of natural history, and a return to wonder by reanimating the curiosities.

Tim Lane
Lecturer, Drawing

Tim Lane is a graphic novelist and freelance illustrator. His graphic novel Abandoned Cars, published by Fantagraphics Books, was nominated for the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Collection of Stories and has been translated into French and Spanish. Lane's comics are widely published in anthologies, including Fantagraphics' Hotwire and MOME, the Kean Review, Smoke Signal, and DC Comic's Bizarro World. Another graphic novel by Lane, The Lonesome Go, was published through Fantagraphics Books in spring 2014. He also produced a biographical graphic novel about the actor Steve McQueen for Quayside Publishing, which was published in winter 2015. As a freelance illustrator, Lane's clients include Rolling Stone, Wired, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, Utne Reader, The Boston Globe, and Believer Magazine, among many others.

Robin VerHage
Associate Professor, Fashion Design
Working regionally, nationally, and internationally, Robin VerHage has designed costumes for more than sixty theatre and opera productions. She collaborated with Jim Henson at Muppets in NYC, as well as with companies such as Laterna Majika (Prague, Czech Republic) and Opera Theatre of St. Louis. As an associate professor of fashion design in the Sam Fox School, one of her favorite assignments is teaching Introduction to Fashion. Two University grants (from the Kauffman Foundation and I-CARES) have generously supported her studies in sustainable fashion design.

Tuition, Room, & Board

The estimated cost of the Portfolio Plus Program is $4,789. These costs include tuition, room, board (3 meals per day), supplies, and field trips. An additional $100 should be budgeted as extra spending money for purchases such as snacks, entertainment, souvenirs, etc. Upon acceptance to the program, a $250 non-refundable deposit will be required by June 1, 2017, to reserve your space in the program. If you withdraw from the program after classes begin, no portion of tuition will be refunded.

You will live in one of our modern residence houses on the WashU campus. Study rooms, kitchenettes, laundry facilities, floor lounges, and a computer lab are available. Program Assistants are current undergraduates or recent graduates who live in the dorms, assist in your classes, chaperone field trips, and guide you through the program. With your meal plan, you get to enjoy a variety of food choices available across campus.


*The application period for our summer 2017 Pre-College Programs is now closed.

The following materials were required:
1. 500-word essay answering the following questions: What sparked your interest in becoming an architect, artist, or designer? This could be an experience, a person, a building, an artwork, etc. What do you wish to gain from this program?
2. Your most recent high school transcript.
3. One letter of recommendation from an academic teacher, art teacher, principal, high school counselor, or artist/architect who knows you well.
4. (Optional) Copies of official PSAT, SAT, or ACT scores.
5. (Optional) 3-5 examples of your work. This could include anything from drawings and paintings, to photographs, illustrations, videos, sculptures, storyboards, websites, or other types of work that seem relevant.
6. $45 non-refundable application fee ($35 for those who apply by March 15, 2017).


Scholarship assistance is available, rangiing up to the full cost of attendance. Scholarships will be awarded based on financial need and academic merit. The program deposit is waived for students requiring scholarship assistance.

*The application period for scholarship assistance for our summer 2017 Pre-College Programs is now closed.


For more information, please contact:

Mariana Parisca
Admissions Counselor

Courtney Cushard
Coordinator of Special Programs