Distinguished Artist Award

The Distinguished Artist Award (DAA) is granted to incoming first year students.

  • It provides eligible students with $2,500 each year towards their college costs and is renewable for up to four years.

The DAA is awarded to students with strong academic records and outstanding creative abilities in art, dance, music, theater and creative writing.

The deadline for receiving portfolios is February 10, 2017, and our decision is due to the Admissions office on March 1, 2017.


To apply for a DAA in art, submit:

  • A completed application form
  • A digital portfolio (slide format is acceptable)
  • A self-addressed postcard with postage (optional)
  • No more than 15 images of your work
  • A separate sheet listing titles and medium
  • A SASE if you wish to have material returned

Please send this information directly to the Art Department at:

Department of Art and Art History
De Pree Art Center
ATTN: DAA Coordinator
275 Columbia Ave
Holland, MI 49423

When we receive your portfolio, we will notify you via email or postcard. If you do not receive an email or postcard, we have not received your portfolio. Please contact Kristin Underhill via email or at 616.395.7500.

Decisions will be announced by the admissions office and the Art Department after March 1.

Portfolio information

Submit 15 individual digital images (jpeg) on a CD. Size each file between 100 kb and 1 mb. If we cannot open your files, we cannot review your portfolio or consider you for a scholarship. Do NOT submit individual DVDs or DVRs, PowerPoint presentations or Quicktime Files. 

If you include a self addressed stamped envelope, we will return any application materials. If you do not include an envelope large enough for the return of your materials, we will not send them back to you.

You can schedule an appointment with a studio professor to discuss your portfolio by contacting the art department at 616.395.7500 or the admissions office at 800.968.7850 or 616.395.7850.

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio of art work should be a collection of your best and most recent work. It is a crucial part of your application. The portfolio helps the school evaluate your achievements and potential, and represents your view of yourself and your work.

Many different portfolios are necessary during your career as an artist, including for:

  • Graduate school
  • Exhibits
  • Galleries
  • Buyers
  • Employers

The preparation of each portfolio varies according to its purpose. The admissions portfolio required for application to most professional fine art and design schools should include 10–20 pieces in a variety of media. Fewer pieces may not allow an accurate assessment of your potential. The college will be interested in your drawing ability and use of color in two-dimensional and three-dimensional work.

We can give you suggestions and technical assistance, but there is no exact formula for preparing the “right” portfolio. Art teachers can help you with the selection and photography of your work, but you should make the final decisions on what best represents you.

Photographing your artwork

The following is a list of techniques to help you assemble slides that will represent your original art work faithfully.

  • Preferably use a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, but a smartphone should do the trick if necessary. 
  • Make sure the white balance setting on your digital camera is for outdoor or daylight. For indoor shooting, block other sources of light and use two tungsten bulbs. Place a light on each side of your artwork at a 45-degree angle. Make sure the light balance is for indoor or tungsten.
  • Photograph each piece individually. Try to fill the camera frame with your work. If you use a background, it should be a neutral color, preferably black.
  • If unsure about exposure time, take three slides of each piece: one at suggested meter reading of the camera, one at an exposure (f-stop) higher and another at an exposure lower.
  • Most importantly, take your time. Photograph your work again if necessary. Select the best shots, put them in the order you want us to review them and preview your work by projecting it.

Source: The Cleveland Institute of Art

Photographing Artwork for Your Digital Portfolio (PDF)

Renewal Criteria

If you receive a DAA award, it will be renewed every year if you maintain a 2.6 GPA and take one art class each semester. You must also participate in an annual DAA review and maintain a competitive portfolio. We encourage you to submit work into a juried show on or off campus each fall.

DAA students are expected to demonstrate steady, continuous progress each year, via public exhibitions of their work for those in studio art and written evidence for those in art history.

We require DAA recipients to complete at least 22 credit hours in art (the requirements for an art minor), we encourage recipients to take as many courses as possible beyond this minimum, particularly upper level course offerings.