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3D Animation student: Tara Jackson on portfolio building


Written by
Jieying Shao
Published date
04 April 2022

Tara Jackson studies art history and studio art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University. As a UAL Study Abroad student she studies 3D Animation at the London College of Communication(LCC). Here, Tara talks about her experience so far and shares tips on portfolio building.

The hill

"Your portfolio should consist of work that shows what your best quality work can look like when you invest thought into your process."

Why did you choose to study animation?

I chose to study 3D Animation at UAL because I had never studied it before, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to focus a year on a new topic. I had taken a stop-motion course and a 3D modelling course with the SMFA (School of the Museum of Fine Arts) at Tufts which sparked my interest in the 3D Animation Program at UAL. While I was doing dual majors in Tufts, it was a bit hectic figuring out scheduling and commuting to two campuses while also getting first-year requirements out of the way. It’s really rewarding to be able to focus on making art this year.

Why did you choose to study abroad at UAL?

My home university, Tufts, has a program for students who want to study at UAL and other London schools called “Tufts in London.” I chose to study at UAL because the credits I earned here would translate easily and seamlessly into my studio art major with Tufts.

How was the application process, do you have any advice for people who want to apply?

I remember being excited and nervous during the application process, but I would suggest that people lean into the excitement and try not to worry too much about their application. I got into the Year 2 3D Animation program without any 3D animation on my portfolio, but everyone in year 2 is starting around the same baseline of learning what to do in their respective pipelines. I would suggest putting your best work in the portfolio and some examples that are close to or pertain to your work. For example, I did put some clips of my stop motion animation experience in my portfolio application.

What are your first impressions of London, UAL and LCC?

If we’re being honest, I got lost in the building the first day and accidentally sat in a photography lecture! LCC’s building is huge and has such a wide variety of technical resources available to the students. I think the highlight of the 3D Animation program is our tutor, Sam Roe (, and the supportive energy of my coursemates.

Tell us about your project

Our big project of the first semester was to create a 15-second animation with 3 shots. One of the prompts for creating the ‘3 shots project’ was to write a three-paragraph story. I ended up writing the beginning to a chapter based off a dream I had about a conversation with a frog.

Olivia in the forest

Share some tips on portfolio building with us?

Even if you are worried that you are applying for a program in which you have no experience, give it a go! I didn’t have any examples of 3D Animation when I applied with my Portfolio. I think the most important part is to show that you have an interest and the work ethic to see that interest through. Your portfolio should consist of work that shows what your best quality work can look like when you invest thought into your process.

Where do you usually get inspiration from?

I often get inspiration from children’s TV shows and children’s books, particularly the science fiction and fantasy genres.

What do you most enjoy about your classes?

What I enjoy most about my class is the rapport that the students have for each other and that we have with our tutor. We are all so genuinely excited to see each other’s creative processes and work and help each other along the way.

How do you find the situation with Covid? Has it changed your art practice?

Fortunately, the 3D Animation Program classes have been held in person. But in addition to this, I’ve found 3D Animation itself is a relatively friendly program for Covid. There’s a lot of communication with our course mates and our tutor over digital platforms when we have issues or get stuck with the program, and lots of opportunities to come into campus and work on the computers in the classroom.

How do you think studying abroad at UAL will help you?

I think one of the best qualities of this program is the study-life balance. I have time to do events with the student Union, explore London, travel, and hang out with my friends. At the same time, the ability to really focus in on one artistic genre means that I’m learning a lot about 3D Animation while not spreading myself too thin between multiple subjects.

What’s your plan for this semester?

One of the projects this semester is to work on a group project with the 3D animation students and VFX students, so I’ll be working on that. I’m also currently applying for jobs and internships for the summer since I’m a graduating senior.

Check Tara's work:
Follow Tara: @tara_laguitara

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