The Chicago Portfolio School


Our school's a little different. But, so are you, otherwise you wouldn't be here. Try on a few eyeballs and check out Chicago Portfolio School.

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What’s In My Office Thursday

Meet CPS alum Andrea Langley, Designer at SapientNitro. Check out her great advice below.

You have to be persistent with pushing yourself. Always keep doing a lot of good work. Continue polishing your craft. And make certain you’re confident in your concepts. We’re all going to face some kind of rejection whether that’s not landing the job you wanted or getting a portfolio critique so bad you left crying (whoops, was that just me?). We put our hearts and minds into creating the work we do so the best thing to do when faced with those moments is to just keep pushing. If you don’t get that first gig guess what, there are a hundred of other just as awesome agencies out there. If you get a bad critique guess what, that’s great because now you can improve it before sending it out into the world. Portfolio school is the place to begin shining, but it’s also the place where you can make mistakes and learn from them.

But beyond being persistent with yourself, you also need to be persistent with getting your foot in the door. Stay in touch with your instructors and mentors, believe it or not they are usually more than willing to help give you a push in the right direction. Enter competitions near and far. Even if you don’t win you’re still feeding your drive to create. Freelance. It gives the chance to try a place out before fully committing. Don’t just apply for endless jobs, try also sending personal notes to the creative directors you really want to get your book in front of. Because if you don’t, know one will ever know how kick ass you are.

By heather : June 19, 2014

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Break is coming up. A good time to rest up, and take a break from the rigmarole of school. Here is a couple of fun things to do around the city that won’t cost a nickel:

It’s a chuckle fest.
The cast of the mainstage does a free improv set after their show every night, with the exception of Friday’s. First come, first serve.

Get your learn on.
Chicago’s finest learning institutions do free days-

Music? I love music.
Series of free concerts at the beautiful,  Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

The F@#ing zoo is closed, Ray.
Open 365 days a year.

It is also free to stand in front of the Trump Tower, and take selfie giving the new TRUMP sign the finger. And don’t even get me started on the k e r n i n g. Just sayin. 

Written by Jeff Polaschek

By heather : June 17, 2014

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What’s In My Office Thursday

Meet CPS alum Sami Ross, CW at SapientNitro. Check out her great advice below.

It is so important to respect yourself and to believe in your talent. The key to achieving self-respect lies in hard work and dedication. When you know that you’ve given everything but your first born child to your book, it’s easier to be your biggest fan. Be an eager learner, be humble, be open minded, but don’t go into worship mode because some big shot descended from her ivory tower to ask you to make some copies. You are not an ant waiting to be crushed - you’re a wildly creative and ambitious force of nature. Hold yourself to high standards, bathe in the sage advice of your teachers, and if you’ve written a really smart fart joke for a campaign, for goodness sake, own it.

By heather : June 12, 2014

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Ad school, huh? Well this should be fun.  You’ll dream your dreamy dreams and come up with grandiose ideas that will change the world around you without a care of the cost to any. You’ll scoff at your “early” 11:30 am class, and certainly have no fear of grabbing that last cup of coffee at 11:30 pm. The answer to your brief will just come to you…organically. You are care-free and free to create.

And by create, I mean re-write the same line a hundred times, only to be told that it was better the first time.  By create, I mean see a fellow class mate put a comp up that was,”exactly what I was thinking,” back at try number sixty-seven.  By create, I mean lie awake at night with a crippling fear that your work is not progressing and everyone around you is miles ahead.

This school is not easy, and there is no time for hand-holding or pandering.

The thing I have to remember is that it’s all about the work.

Like trying to get in shape – If you eat right, exercise, and put in the work, you will end up with results. You might look in the mirror every day and say, “I don’t see anything different,” but that is when I must trust in the work. It is paying off.

I don’t feel like the ads I was making in week one are that much better than the ones I make now. I don’t feel it because I have made a couple hundred.  They are better though. Every comp, every line, every class I take is a step toward the final goal; A buff, ripped book that will not be afraid take off its shirt at the pool.

Now back to work, lazy dreamers.

Written by Polaschek

By heather : June 09, 2014

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Portfolio Night/CPS Featured on Reel Chicago

Portfolio night was fun, huh? Well it also got some pretty cool press for our school. Check out this little diddy featuring quotes from CPSer Molly Stapleton (CW) and Christine Barrett.

Written by David Mattera

By heather : May 29, 2014

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Winner Winner

Chicken dinner!

Stacy Randolph is the official winner of the Portfolio Night Chicago All-Star competition. Outside of bragging rights, she has won a trip to NYC, where she will take her spot amongst top young creatives from around the world to compete in the ADC challenge.

Congrats Stacy!

By heather : May 27, 2014

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CPS 4th Quarters Round Out Their Books.

4th Quarter AD/CW pair Austin Dejonge and Rose Schuchat put their talents to the humblest use with their “Craigsrelist” project. These well-produced versions of unwanted and usually useless craigslist ads put the necessary polish to these less-than-savory items making them ever-so-slightly marketable.

Take a look at their second-hand goods made better at

Written by David Mattera

By heather : May 07, 2014

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Some stuff we couldn’t fit on your shirts.

Hey 1st quarters, 4th quarter CW here. I love the tradition of the CPS Freshman Mixer, but let’s be real- sharpies + shirts + beer= illegible advice. Here’s some stuff I couldn’t fit on your shirts.

Go to your classes. All of them. No brainer, but it needed to be said. Of course, you’ll learn something new and useful every class but more importantly, you’ll be getting weekly face time with busy creative professionals that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. You’ll also get their email addresses. Take advantage.

Don’t sweat if your drawing skills aren’t so hot. Marker comps are meant to show a general idea of what your ad will look like. Stick figures are perfectly acceptable. Seriously. So is putting a piece of paper right on your computer screen to trace an image you found on Google.

Every assignment has potential. Part of the fun of advertising is making “boring” brands interesting. Think this way from the start and you’ll have a lot more campaigns to choose from when you put together your book.

Creativity is a process. Fully formed, mind-blowing, award worthy campaigns won’t just fall into your laptop. Take time to brainstorm, concept, write, design, get feedback and let your ideas evolve.  You get what you put into it.

Don’t let negative feedback get you down. I know, it sucks. But it sucks a lot less than having not so hot campaigns in your book.

Get to know your classmates. And not just the ones in your quarter. In a year they’ll be your professional network. Plus, it’s always nice to have friends who understand what you do for a living. 

Good luck guys, you’ll love it here!

Written by Erin Meulbroek

By heather : May 05, 2014

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Wanna know who gets jobs? BOQ winners. That’s who.

A well-deserved congratulations to our Best of Quarter winners. Nothing makes thawing students happier than seeing the budding talent of young creatives at the end of the winter quarter.

We know you will all continue to breathe life into concepts, headlines, art direction and design for many seasons to come.

Best Design: Diana Ahn
Best Headline: Ana Karina Da Silva
Best Art Direction: Stacy Randolph
Best Concept Team: Sean Peecook, Sarah Dembkowski, Stacy Randolph and Courtney Coha

Check out the following link to see all the winning work.

Written by David Mattera

By heather : May 01, 2014

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CPS Alums Go On to Great Things

Like getting awesome jobs and giving interesting interviews about their passions for creative work and entrepreneurism.

One such alum is Hassan Ali, currently a Junior Copywriter at EnergyBBDO. He recently spoke with the Chicago professional networking site Loop ( about his journey as a young creative.

His advice? Read his interview and find out.

Written by David Mattera

By heather : April 28, 2014

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