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All you need to know about packaging up your work for assessment

This is a post from the weareoca.com archive. Information contained within it may now be out of date.
This video has been produced on request of the OCA Student Association (OCASA) because of the number of students who agonise about how best to send their work for assessment. It’s most relevant to Visual Arts students not including Photography, but all OCA students may find some of the tips helpful.

One question some students ask, but which is not covered in the video, is the thorny question of how to remove your work from the recommended A1 boards after assessment. Here are some suggestions:
Attach, just inside the corners of the back of the artwork, small squares of double sided tape or one or two longer strips positioned off centre. This requires careful undoing afterwards to avoid tearing and so cannot be used on thin paper. Spray mount (the one that allows for adjustments to be made) will work for relatively lightweight paper, photos etc. but might not be strong enough for heavier pieces. However, if Spraymount is used at all, it has to be used with care, making sure that areas that are exposed do not become sticky since this can cause havoc to other work in the portfolio.
If your work is larger than A1, and/or is on canvas, board, or fragile, we advise you to discuss options with your tutor during your final tutorial.

Posted by author: Jane Parry
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31 thoughts on “All you need to know about packaging up your work for assessment

  • Great video. One of the A1 sheets in the video shows a students preparatory work mounted along side the finished artwork. Much of my preparatory is actually in my sketchbooks. Does the OCA want me to remove this work from the sketchbooks and mount them? Would just cross referencing the preparatory work in a given sketchbook be sufficient? In addition much of my preparatory work is very rough, e.g. buckled paper from over use of water. This would make it difficult to mount as neatly as a finished piece of work. Any suggestions?

  • Your preparatory work can take many forms (including photos, notes and test pieces, particularly during courses like Mixed Media or Advanced Painting) and as such are unlikely to be neatly kept all in one place. For assessment you should use your creative and judgmental skills to work out which pieces to include and how best to show them. There is no need to put a frontal frame around the image, and please ensure you do not sign any of your images.
    In relation to ‘finished’ assignment pieces, sometimes the assessors will find as much, or more evidence of ability in the sketchbooks, preparatory studies and test pieces so bear this in mind when preparing your portfolio. So the answer is yes, if an image in your sketchbook is particularly strong, you might want to remove it and present it as a piece that you consider worthy of attention for a particular assignment. Assessors need to find the links easily so help them by adding a contents list at the front of your portfolio and your learning log, with links to specific assignments, tutor reports, notes, reflections, experiments, research themes etc. Try to be clear and concise in your selection and in your presentation – don’t just pile in everything you have ever done throughout the course and expect the assessors to work it out. Good luck!
    Hope this helps

  • Laticia, I have often had preparatory work in sketchbooks and have cross referenced by adding tabs to the relevant pages of the sketchbook. I wouldn’t tear pages out of a sketchbook.
    But I would check this with your tutor to ensure that it is still acceptable

  • Thank you Linda and Amanda. I think I need to use my own judgement on how/what to display for each piece as well as make it as easy for the assessor to have clear access to what I which him/her to see. Difficult to give specific guidelines as each student’s work is so different. Perhaps a large envelope attached to the bakc of the A1 sheets with the preparatory work inside? I’ll have to think about this carefully when the time comes. The videos definatley help. Thank you.

  • What do people use for mounting work on paper? What adhesives? What about work that’s been done on less conventional supports, e.g. newspaper, lightweight oriental papers?

  • With OCASA hat on – thanks for this Jane, it’s really clear. Also, picking up on Linda’s point about not signing any of your images, could someone clarify the reason for this please.

    • Re. Not signing the front of the image, in the same way as not framing the work, you should consider everything you do for your OCA modules ‘work in progress’ rather than work for sale. Once your course is over and the images out in the world, you can of course do whatever you like.

      • Re. Not signing work. That is interesting and I’m not sure is clear (or I missed it if it was) in the course notes. I am very early on in studying with the OCA and have just sent off my Printmaking 1 first assessment. Throughout the Printmaking 1 course notes there is information on how to edition / label / sign prints, so I assumed it was a requirement to do this for the assessment. I’m glad I’ve watched this video early on (although I’m sure my tutor will put me right when it is returned).
        Re. Mounting work, I use a Hermafix Glue Dispenser (Removeable) for affixing my work as it can be removed if no longer required.

        • Sorry Mark, this is relevant to students studying drawing and painting, and so might not apply to printmaking, best to check with your tutor as I doubt it is mentioned in the coursebook

  • I have done watercolours which have brown sticky tape around the edges (which is difficult to remove) where I have stretched them–should the pix be mounted inside card frames to hide this brown untidy margin (as well as onto A1 card) or shall I stop using the brown sticky tape and use a plastic tape which will only leave a white margin?

    • It might be difficult to stretch paper with anything other than gummed brown paper tape, and it doesnt have to be scruffy if applied properly and neatly trimmed when removing it from the board. It is a good idea when stretching paper to leave enough space around the image to allow for a passe-partout/frame

  • This is a very helpful video – thanks. I understand I can submit my Illustration assessment entirely in a digital format but I am unsure how to do this. Would it be possible to have a video suggesting appropriate ways to do this as there are so many pitfalls. Are the Assessors looking for a slideshow or video and will the images be projected onto a screen or seen on a computer as this affects the size and clarity that the image will be viewed at, not to mention the affect it may have on the colours and tones that I used. Thanks – it would be a shame to lose marks by getting this wrong!

    • Hi Julia. For a digital submission you can have your images clearly labelled in a folder, so that th assessors can go through each image one by one. Don’t worry about setting up a slideshow or video, but having good quality images of course is important which is why, as well as having images on your learning log, its good to send in higher resolution images with your submission for viewing. I hope this helps. I’ll consider further explanation on digital submissions, that’s for the suggestion.

      • Thanks for your reply. Is it possible to enter some of the work digitally and some on paper or is it essential to stick to one format? I am already doing an online blog and printed logbook but not sure if I must stick to one format with all the finished pieces? I assume you would need the folders on a CD, but then what happens if the CD fails to work on the day? Thank you for your help!

  • This is very helpful and, apart from sending sketchbooks and logbook separately is exactly what I did for my Drawing 1 assessment. I’m now part way through Practise of Painting and wondering how easy it will be to mount some of my work which has been done on canvas, canvas board or prepared board onto A1 card. For the drawing assessment thin card was perfectly adequate but, whilst thicker mount type card would be an option I’m still not sure how that would work and it would certainly add to the weight. Any thoughts?

    • it depends of course on the size and weight of the image – if more appropriate you might submit some larger pieces unmounted, and/or submit photographic documentation of the work in progress on mount card, for example Painting 2 Mixed Media, where the ‘painting’ may be three-dimensional or fragile. If unsure check with your tutor.

  • This is an extremely interesting debate and very timely as I have just packed my work up (Textiles 1: A Creative Approach)to send from Australia.
    Australia post have size restrictions and I cannot send a parcel with A1 dimensions. I may be able to send A2 if I keep the depth of the parcel minimal (that is the number of stacked mountboards), which means that I could barely send any work. One excellent suggestion, from one of the tutors, is that I hinge two A3 sheets together to get a larger surface but which can be folded for mailing.
    As I was supplied with an A3 sized satchel to send my assignments to my tutor I naturally mounted the work on A3 as I progressed thinking that at the end of the course I would just have to collate the pieces I wanted to submit for assessment and the presentation would already be done – especially as I knew that bigger sized parcels are a postal issue.
    Needless to say, I am posting my parcel today with everything mounted as professionally as I can but on A3 size. I hope that OCA oficials read this and take this into consideration because there is nothing whatsoever I can do about it if I use Australia Post.
    I do have the option of using a courier service. However this will easily more than double the cost of sending the work because, unlike Aus Post, they work on a voluminous weight basis which means they calculate which is the greater between the physical weight or the voluminous weight (meaning the cubic space the parcel takes up)and charge accordingly. So, as an example, if I send my normal 2kg satchel to the UK by Aus Post it costs me slightly under $80, the same parcel by DHL will cost $424.46. Madness!
    Please OCA, remember this and make allowances when we overseas students are trying to do the best we can. I am very interested to hear the experiences of any other overseas students and how they manage.

    • Have you spoken directly to the OCA office on this matter? You will not be the only overseas student with this dilemma and I am sure that the people responsible for the assessments will have useful advice.

      • Hi Peter, I spoke to OCA regarding their recommendations but at that time I hadn’t found out that our postal service actually wouldn’t carry A1 size parcels so I’ll bring that to their attention now.
        Much of the textiles course (so far) are samples and, as such, aren’t huge and can often be folded.
        When doing my final piece for my first course I made it in three sections which can be abutted to create the finished textile art work. I photographed it as a whole and added this to the parcel so the examiners can see how it should be assembled. It seemed a good way to make a larger piece without it getting damaged when packing. I’m so glad I did this because it’s unfortunate to be thinking of size restrictions when creating something.
        Having said that, maybe considering how the final works will be shipped will become part of my creative process and might produce some works that I wouldn’t otherwise have thought of!!

  • I always sent Painting assessments by courier from the Caribbean, it was the most practical way despite the high cost. The cost doubled when the requirement for an A1 portfolio came in, I think it was in 2009 or 2010, but there were corresponding benefits in that it’s a much better size for painting — those A2 sizes were terribly restrictive, especially in the painting courses.
    However, packing as small as possible saves a huge amount in shipping costs, and in some courses, e.g. Watercolour and Printmaking where the work is smaller, it may be feasible to use A2 boards and A2 portfolio instead of A1 and this may be relevant for Textiles as well.

    • Yes, I totally agree that with painting and the like the A2 sizing could be quite restrictive. So far in my textiles adventures I’m not having to do anything that large but there is all the preparative work to be presented as well.
      Due to the volume and diversity of the OCA courses I realise they need to have a standardised approach to presenting work but some things just aren’t going to work for everyone.
      I’ll wait and see what comments I get from the assessors for this first submission – and keep my fingers crossed meantime.

      • Hi Claire. Thanks for the alert about packaging work up from Australia. I have added a note on this into the briefing that I give assessors at the beginning of each assessment so that they are all aware that it is necessary to be flexible about the size of presentations from students in Australia. Its helpful to know about this restriction, but it truly will not impact on you at assessment. It would be helpful if you make notes in your submission (in your blog?) about your thoughts on sizing. So for example, has this restriction had a real impact on you? Did you want to work bigger? Has it limited what you want to do or are you happy to work on a smaller scale? etc Hope this helps.

  • I’m a little concerned about the A1 requirement. Is it a requirement or a suggestion? I thought we were expected to use our judgement and I would hesitate to mount an A4 painting on an A1 background as it would look odd. I think!
    I will certainly make notes in my blog about the size and explain my reasons for working in a variety of sizes. Any comments from tutors/ admin people ?

  • Great video with good guidance. When it comes to the A1 format: in D1 having done some drawings in A1 what are the recommendations. To crop it slightly so that the mat is visible as a kind of frame or just stick A1 drawing on A1 mat to make it sturdy without any frame around?

  • Hi Stefan,
    Generally you wouldn’t necessarily have to mount A1 paper, it tends to be strong enough to support itself, if you do want to mount it, it just depends on the piece itself and if it is suitable for trimming down. There are no set rules so please do not worry about going wrong,

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