The Chicago Portfolio School


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What’s in my Office Thursday: Nicholas Micale

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum Nicholas Micale, Senior Copywriter at David&Goliath in El Segundo, CA!

Check out his advice below:

“Advertising is extremely fun—even while it’s burning you out.”

“All-nighters, sleeping in the office, poor diets, partying, drinking habits—they’re all part of the job. But it’s hard to sustain. So learn to maximize the times you’re at your best. And when you’re not, give yourself a chance to be at your best the next day.”

“Learn to gauge your productivity. Can you keep cranking? Or should you call it a night? Since I’ve learned to balance work & rest, I’ve been more successful. Because it’s not about what you do in one night. It’s about consistently delivering great work.”

“My advice: Treat your mind the way an athlete treats their body. Work it out by concepting, writing scripts, blowing out ideas, executing, etc. But get some rest so you can perform at the top of your ability every day.” 

Take a look at his talented portfolio:

By heather : February 11, 2016

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Creative Resolutions

As we enter the first week of February, now is a great time to reflect and check-in on those New Year’s resolutions we were so eager to share with family over the holidays.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve already started to question paying $75/month for a gym membership or $200 on groceries at Whole Foods each week.  These are what I like to call, “Reach Resolutions”, as each year it’s completely unrealistic that I am going to get anywhere close to meeting them. 

This year, however, I did write down a few resolutions that pertained specifically to having a career as a creative.  While walking a mile to the gym in 10 degree weather seemed unattainable, I wanted something that I could hold myself accountable for each week.

1. Rip out/print off an Ad you deem successful each week.
As a student of the industry, it’s crucial that we examine what is currently out there making money for clients (or in some cases, just the opposite).  After you’ve found an advertisement you connect with, think to yourself what it’s concept might have been.  Were they successful in their execution?  How would you have gone about the headline and/or art direction?  Keep these in a separate folder as inspiration in the future when your head has sustained multiple bruises from trying to pound out an idea. 

2. Discover and research a new agency each week.
Whether you are a student or an award winning Creative Director, it is always wise to stay abreast* of what is going on in your industry.  As you creep closer to graduating from Portfolio School, knowing which agencies created the ads that have inspired you may help in deciding where to apply for work.  Like any business, knowing the history of those who have come before you and the players currently on the field is extremely advantageous.  Learn prominent names.  Discover where they are located.  Remember what they have produced.  Knowledge is powerful. 
*made a secondary resolution to use new words

3. Each day, have a set-time for writing and/or refining a new skill.
Simply put, you can never stop perfecting your craft.  The more you practice, the better you will become.  To develop a routine is only going to get more ideas out there for you to choose from.  Copywriters - pick up a notebook at Target and write for 30 mins each day.  When you’re done, shut the book and come back to it after some time away from it.  Art Directors - mock up an idea you’ve been sitting on or watch a tutorial at  Some days may produce crap, but getting yourself to sit-down and start is half the battle. 

4. Continue to have a life.
We are in the business of advertising and marketing.  We must know what is going on in the world around us and what is “in” these days.  Additionally, every creative must make time for themselves to relax and give your brain a break.  Nothing is more frustrating than a creative-block from exhaustion. 

Happy New Year!  If you have a hard time committing to something this year, you have over 340 days to think of something for 2017.  It better be good. 

Written by CPS Blogger and 2nd Quarter Copywriter: Sean Kunz

By heather : February 03, 2016

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Drake Paul

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS alum Drake Paul, Copywriter at Golin.

Check out his advice below:

“Go to class. Get the work done. Be professional, but it’s not life or death. At the end of the day, what you’re doing should be fun. You’re making ads. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole and worry that you’re never going to figure it out. But you will. And it’s usually when you stop worrying about it so much.”

“When someone gives you feedback, take it, they’re trying to help. It’s easy to get defensive but it’s very rarely personal and there’s almost always some truth to the criticism. Hear them and try to take the opportunity to make your work better.”

“Sometimes the hours can be long and the assignments can be hard but you can always beat it. You can always solve it. Just relax and learn to enjoy the process. Don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Take a look at his talented book:

By heather : January 28, 2016

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Winter Workspaces

It’s winter in Chicago, which means it’s even more tempting to work in bed, cuddling with your laptop all weekend. Don’t do that. There’s a whole world out there. Here are some out of the box places to work remotely when you need a break from CPS or elsewhere:

Garfield Park Conservatory / Alright, so you may not be able to spread out at a big table or even have wifi connection, but don’t write the conservatory off just yet. It’s absolutely beautiful as well as making you forget that it’s -12 degrees outside. It’s essentially empty during the weekdays and there are plenty of benches to read, sketch or just think.

The Map Room / They serve coffee in the morning and open up the bar starting at noon. The wifi is strong, 1970’s National Geographic issues are littered everywhere, and there are free pretzels. It may not sound like your average work spot, but it’s perfect. If you stay late enough, you may even run into the tamale guy.

Harold Washington Library / Public libraries have a seedy reputation, and sometimes for good reason. But what Harold Washington lacks in Instagram-worthy decor, it more than makes up for in silence and meeting rooms. Major bonus points for the ninth floor Winter Garden, which is beyond beautiful.

Half Acre Taproom / This shouldn’t work, but it does. The tables are big, there’s wifi and starting next week, Half Acre is even throwing low key bar eats into the mix. During the day, it’s basically the perfect casual meeting place.

Coffee Shop Adventure / If the baristas at your nearest Starbucks know your name, you’re doing it wrong. This city is chock full of better options. Tour Chicago neighborhoods by stepping outside of your coffee comfort zone. Need a starting point? Try Gaslight Coffee Roasters in Logan Square, Heritage Bicycles in Lakeview, Plein Air Cafe in Hyde Park, or The Wormhole in Wicker Park.

Written by CPS Blogger and 3rd Quarter Copywriter: Olivia Crandall

By heather : January 26, 2016

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Caitlin Fitzgibbons

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS alum Caitlin Fitzgibbons, Associate Art Director at FCB Chicago.

Check out her advice:

“Portfolio school is a great time to have fun and create work that really plays to your strengths. However, it’s also important to treat it like a job. Forming good habits in school will help you get a job and jump right in at an agency/design shop. Learn to work fast. Deadlines are quick and the faster you are able to work the more you’ll open yourself up to opportunities as a junior. Push yourself on every assignment to become a better presenter. Being articulate and confident will help you sell your ideas. Work hard and it will pay off. A year ago, I had never used any of the programs and here I am sitting in this futuristic theater space called a job, and that’s pretty cool.”

Take a look at her awesome work:
Current side project:

By heather : January 21, 2016

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Chloe Lebamoff & Sarah Frazer

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS alumni Chloe Lebamoff (Associate Copywriter) and Sarah Frazer (Associate Art Director), creative junior partners at FCB Chicago!

Check out their advice:

Sarah & Chloe’s Keys to Success:

1. Every word, image, color and typeface needs to serve some kind of purpose. Be ready to explain why you did what you did when you’re in an interview.

2. Read Adweek everyday and be familiar with what’s happening in the industry. Keep tabs on what’s trending and the agency that did the work.

3. Spend more than just a couple hours before class and using a Google doc to concept. It’s amazing what you can come up with when you put in the time and brainstorm together.

4. Never use the word “I” when talking about your work. You are a team. If someone calls something out, you both have to take responsibility.

5. Learn how to stand up for your work without getting attached to it. If an execution or concept gets killed, don’t ask 3 other people for their opinion to rationalize why it still works. Move on and come up with something better.

Take a look at their awesome work:

By heather : January 14, 2016

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Kevin Zwier

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS alum Kevin Zwier, Copywriter at Wunderman.

Check out his advice below:

“Never stop asking ‘Why?’ For every brief or every assignment that’s thrown your way there’s a problem to solve. It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, art director or designer, do your research on the client and their competitors. Ask tons of questions to everyone and anyone; the creative director, account people, your partner, your friends, your family or even people on the street. Read the reviews and comments of the product(s) on various websites. Dig deep into research because you never know where you’ll find a little nugget of insight that you can use to solve the problem at hand.”

“Secondly, this is a highly subjective business you’re getting into so never give up and never look defeated. What one person says is terrible another might come back and say they love it. There will be days when every one of your ideas or lines gets shot down or ripped apart, one that you’ve worked hours upon hours upon hours fine tuning. Don’t give up when an idea does get rejected, don’t look defeated. Accept the criticism, learn and grow from it. The same applies to when you do get an idea through. Tweaks will always need to be made but for every swing and a miss you’ll eventually get a home run.”

Check out his talented portfolio here:

By heather : January 07, 2016

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Franki Geib & Kate Cullen

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alumni Franki Geib (Associate Art Director) and Kate Cullen (Associate Copywriter) who are creative partners at FCB. We love it when CPSers get to work as a team!

Check out their advice below:

“Go to class, the easiest thing you can do is show up. While it’s important to make your book your own, it’s even more important to take your teachers’ advice. Practice applying critiques to your work while you’re still in school because that’s what your future job will be. When it comes time to get a job, do whatever you can to get an internship - it’s a great way to network and prove yourself. Most importantly, be nice to everyone. You never know who your future desk mate will be (see picture).”

Take a look at their talented books:

By heather : December 17, 2015

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Gift Ideas for the Creative in your Life

The holidays are officially here, which means shopping for everyone on your list needs to happen ASAP. Here are some ideas for the creatives in your life (or more realistically - things you’ll end up buying for yourself).

Adult Coloring Books / These guys are totally having a moment. For good reason too - they’re fun and majorly stress relieving. Don’t forget to pick up some markers as well.

Illustrated Harry Potter / There’s no time like the holidays to revisit new and improved childhood favorites.

The Design Deck / It’s easier to explain to your dad what you actually do in the context of a poker game. I promise.

Audible Subscription / Improving someone’s commute is priceless. Bonus points for finally convincing them to join your book club.

LEGO Architecture Studio  / So they can carefully follow the directions or have enough supplies to go totally rogue.

Built-in Charger Bag / Cooler than a normal computer bag, more functional than that ratty Jansport leftover from college.

Food/Liquor/Snack of the Month Club / Mouth has so many options for different subscription boxes, from pickles to jerkey to gin. The ultimate gift that keeps on giving.

Siracha2Go / Because creative or not, we all probably could benefit from a miniature vat of hot sauce.

Written by CPS Blogger and 2nd Quarter CW: Olivia Crandall

By heather : December 11, 2015

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Sarah Hall

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS alum Sarah Hall, Junior Art Director at Leo Burnett.

Check out her advice below:

“If you have a certain technique or style that you love, do as much of it as possible to build up your skills and develop your point of view. But don’t be afraid to try something a little out of your wheelhouse too. You might grapple with it, but making yourself creatively uncomfortable from time to time will only make you more well-rounded.”

“Sometimes there will be tough days in school, on the job hunt, or at work, because you are a human being. Don’t let them discourage or debilitate you. It’s easy to get down on yourself if something isn’t clicking, but just remember that every single creative in this industry has been in your shoes at some point. In any project, it will only help you to be kind, curious, and well-reasoned.”

Take a look at her talented work:

By heather : December 10, 2015

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