Greetings from the beach!
Current temp: 72 degrees and sunny. Current tide: approximately 2.8 ft. Yes, there’s traffic. Sure, there’s a little smog (although way less than there used to be!). But overall, being a top art and design school located in Los Angeles has extraordinary benefits.  Before we get into the highlights of an Otis experience, let’s talk about the admission and portfolio process.

Preparing to Apply
The admission process includes an application, transcripts from all high schools and colleges attended, standardized test scores (if applying from high school), test of English (for English as Second Language students), an essay, and a portfolio of artwork. The portfolio can feel like the most intimidating part of the process, but with a little preparation and understanding of the admission process, it’s doesn’t have to be overwhelming!

Conquer the Portfolio
Different art schools have different portfolio requirements. The portfolio requirements often reflect the personality of the school and the nature of its programs. Because first-year students at Otis enter a Foundation year program, our requirement is more generalized – 10 to 20 pieces of your best work (as opposed to specific media requirements or creative challenges).  The portfolio is designed to showcase breadth and depth. Breadth means – how much do you know? A multi-media portfolio naturally shows breadth, but a single media portfolio (for example, a portfolio made up exclusively of photography) can showcase it as well if you include variety within that media (using our example, perhaps including black-and white photos, color photos, digital AND film photos, use of digital tools to manipulate photos, art photos AND journalistic photos, etc). Depth means – how much do you know about a single facet of art and/or design? Students can demonstrate this in a variety of ways – pursuing a single subject matter, working in a series, and exploring a variety of subjects with a specific media.

The Creative Economy
Don’t be intimidated! Pursuing art as a student and later as a professional can seem daunting and myths about the “starving artist” persist. However, our student success stories smash that myth and prove that working and living as an artist or designer is extremely satisfying, and also lucrative! Professions our alumni currently represent include:  Pixar Feature Animation story artist, Creative Director of Sport Innovation and Olympics at Nike, Art Director for the New York Times, Menswear Designer at Theory, and Toy Designer at Hasbro. Read more about how creative jobs drive the economy in our annual Report.

Otis Overview

  • Students at Otis College of Art and Design receive an international education in the creative capital of the 21st
  • Alumni and faculty are Fulbright, MacArthur, and Guggenheim grant recipients, Oscar awardees, legendary costume designers, leaders of contemporary art movements, entrepreneurs, and design stars at Apple, Pixar, DreamWorks, Mattel, Nike, and Disney. Most of these companies call Los Angeles home.
  • A. has it all—diversity, industry, and culture. Otis College prides itself as a reflection of that diversity.
  • Named among the top 1% of all colleges and universities in diversity by the Chronicle of Higher Education, our student population of approximately 1200 represents 40 states and 28 countries.

If you have more questions, you can always contact us at or by calling (800) 527–OTIS (6847).

By Brooke Randolph
Director of Admissions