Everyone at Chicago Portfolio School has run into the same awkward situation - someone asking what you’ve been up to. It’s hard to tell them that you’re spending a year doodling and making fart jokes to get a job most don’t know exists.
So here’s a letter that might come in handy:
Dear (Mom/Uncle Stanley/That-Neighbor-You-Ran-Into-Last-Time-You-Went-To-Your-Parents’-House),
The other day, you asked me what I had been up to, and more specifically, “What the heck is portfolio school? Like, investments? Copyright law?”
I’m sure you sensed my discomfort as I struggled to define what I do every day.
You know those funny ads you see on TV, or the ones that make you cry?
Okay. The stuff you mute while you pee? That’s made by writers and art directors at an advertising agency. My goal is to get a job making those ads - the kind you choose to watch.
But at advertising agencies, the demand for talent is high. Even junior-level “creatives” have to show samples of ads they’ve made before they can get jobs. Inexperienced creative people go to school to practice making ads to show during job interviews.
How does that work? First, a creative partner or team and I sit in a room, and talk about the merits of basketball over hockey and vis-versa. We draw pictures of elephants playing instruments, and then throw them away. We write a list of the porn-version of popular movie titles and sketch with markers.
With enough time, these thought exercises lead to creative ideas that help us meet our goal. Sometimes it’s selling more popsicles. Other times it’s raising awareness of testicular cancer.
We present our work in class, to our instructors who are all industry professionals. Their feedback helps us find the areas with the most potential for being interesting. From there, we make sample ads to put in our portfolio and with any luck, get a job.
Oh! And then we drink booze. Sweet, sweet booze.
I hope this helps! It sure helped me.
Written by David Mattera