Skype Critique — Paul’s M.Arch Portfolio Review

Paul has been preparing a portfolio for a Master of Architecture (M.Arch) program after completing a BFA in Painting. After studying his portfolio submission for an hour or so, I sent him my notes and got in touch with him on Skype. We chatted about his work for about two hours, discussing questions we had for each other about his work, concept, and presentation.

Artist: Paul / @defazio_art
Critique Format
: 2 Hours / Skype Messaging
Requested Feedback: Concept / Presentation / Portfolio Suggestions

This post is a short excerpt of our full discussion, and has been edited for readability. 

Paul's Portfolio CoverPages 1 and 2.

Ok, from the top – immediately there was a mixed impression of the overall aesthetic choice of the seemingly pixel-art cover and the slick studio photos following.

Ok so first I was a little puzzled about the relationship between the pixels and cube concept. I was looking for connections and ultimately found the connection, but not until the last textual notes towards the end of your portfolio.

The Kelley process, no? So anyways, I thought right away there was a disconnection.

I wondered if this is to be a printed and folded booklet or only to be viewed digitally. At first I thought print, but then some of the pages made me suspect otherwise.

There are a lot of vertically split panes of visual info and media, but as I went through the portfolio, it seemed not meant to be folded.

Yeah, should we dig into things one at a time or do you want to give me all the stuff and then we go back over it?

Let’s dig as we go, that seems conducive to this format~

perf. So I had questions for you about cover stuff too, bc I just kind of threw on the color, and it is the Kelley process like you said, but I think you’re right that it doesn’t make sense that the first image doesn’t come into play until the very end

We can go nonlinear here haha, because I had a suggestion with an “if then” clause.


My question first was whether the entire portfolio is currently chronological

Because the first half definitely is, but I wasn’t sure for the last works.

The first is chronological. The last section is kind of a series of experiments. What I was trying was dividing them into digital and physical manifestations of the same process

Ah, that makes sense. In that case, my suggestion is to start with the Kelley bits at the front, but in a color gradient that will flow to the studio pictures.

Also, the very last piece (which I love btw) seems to have no context? It didn’t seem to be Mod 1 2 or 3.

This is the last note of page 2.

Interesting. It is meant to be Mod 1. The values are random numbers going from 1-10

Ah, I thought it went vaguely mod 1, 2, 3, 4?, 5?

What threw me off was that mod 1 is described as a color geometry study, so I didn’t connect the achromatic pieces to it.

Also, it was the last piece and didn’t see to match the description of mod3, so I was a little lost but intrigued.

like you broke the physical pieces into mods

er, divided

Yes, def. Tho mod 3 and ‘4’ seemed to maybe be the same series or study?

Part of my biggest suggestion is to add more context. One of the most lovely pages was the introduction to Follies and the examples. It perfectly illustrated the concept, context, then examples.

My note for this is top middle of page 2.

I see it. That’s one of the biggest things I was wondering about

I don’t want to put an overwhelming amount of text and description, and some ambiguity is definitely good, but it sounds like seeing it for the first time it would’ve been more productive to have context

The bottom then shows my proposed order: cover, Kelley intro, mod1, mod3, mod’4′, mod2, then the cubes onward in the same order.

This way the cover aesthetic is immediately explained in context and the colors are slowly displayed in increasingly monochrome.

from chroma to achroma


I do think the graphic design is really strong btw. It would pose a challenge to redo text in smaller accompanying sections, but it would make the narrative easier to follow.

Because the “Phaidon” aesthetic is so lovely, and the RGB + black aesthetic is great too, but together they are a little dissonant.


Phaidon press, amazing quality art books.

Hm, yeah I agree. So I think that’s kind of bringing us to the general topic of how it’s organized

Yes. I think you need more context to explain the cube idea. The Folly intro is perfect.

Check out Paul’s work on Instagram:

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Founder of CritHub and multidisciplinary sculptor.