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.

See it through the eyes of:

What’s in my Office Thursday: Brian Smith

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet Recent CPS Alum Brian Smith, Copywriting Intern at Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Los Angeles – who just started a couple of weeks ago!

Check out his advice below:

“Don’t be afraid to be yourself and let your work be a glimpse into your personality. Find an agency you think mirrors your personality and go for it; never know what might happen.”

“Throw ideas around, laugh, and have a good time and your book will show your passion. Lastly, avoid clichés.”

Take a look at Brian’s talented work here:

By heather : October 30, 2014

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Hassan Ali

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum Hassan Ali, Junior Copywriter at Energy BBDO here in Chicago. 

His advice is totally clutch – so, check it out:

“I’m Hassan, a copywriter at Energy BBDO. I also run the agency’s Instagram account, which is pretty fun/ridiculous depending on the day (”

Here’s what I did and it might work for you, too:

- “Find at least 2 mentors: That includes everyone from CPS teachers to folks you meet at a networking event to people whose work you admire online and reach out to. Not only have mentors taught me a ton about the ad biz, but they’ve hooked me up with some super cool opportunities, too. Mentorship is clutch.”

- “Use buzzwords like ‘clutch’.”

- “Get good-ish at public speaking: Perhaps an overlooked piece of advice, but damn, what a difference a solid, confident presentation can make. Practice makes perfect, so use CPS classes as your dojo for honing those presentation skills.”

- “Try and surround yourself with people funnier/smarter/more talented than you. That environment pushes you to do some great work.”

- “Find opportunities in seemingly unglamorous projects: Anyone can come up with a funny a beer ad campaign. But what about a campaign for something like, oh I don’t know, rice milk? See now there’s a challenge! Pulling off something like that would be so clutch.”

Check out the rest of Hassan’s work here:

By heather : October 21, 2014

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Chelsea Berger

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS alum, Chelsea Berger, Copywriter at Havas Worldwide Chicago - where she works for a really cool boss.

Check out her advice below:

“My CCO told me in a meeting once that he did not hire me for my opinion. I responded, ‘Fuck yeah you did’ and proceeded to give my input. Now, my boss is cool, so I’m not saying to mouth off to your superiors, but the point is to know your value. Your opinion, passion and vision is what should lead you - always. Yes, you need to know when to back down, but you don’t want to bend to the point where you’re kissing a client’s ass and lackadaisically saying “Sure” to every request. You want to be upright, shaking hands as they congratulate you for improving their brand with an awesome, innovative idea.”

“Jason LaFlore (in the pic with me) is my partner at Havas, and also a CPS grad.”

View Chelsea’s portfolio here:

By heather : October 16, 2014

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Rachel Bottlinger

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet recent CPS Alum, Rachel Bottlinger, who is currently working as an Art Direction Intern at Cramer-Krasselt here in the Windy City.

Check out her Advice Below:

“My advice? Stay curious. I believe curiosity is the key to creativity.”

“Don’t skimp on brainstorming. Say everything that comes to mind. If Tide laundry detergent makes you think of unicorns, write it down. Tell your partner. Who knows, a genius concept could come out of it. I prefer keeping it weird over playing it safe.”

“Keep up with the industry. Things change in the blink of and eye, and you need to be able to change with it. That’s the whole fun of advertising, man. “

“Finally, something my dad told me a long time ago. ‘There are people who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who wondered what happened.’ Work your butt off and don’t ever quit your dream.”

By heather : October 02, 2014

Tags: 0 Comments

The Great Schlep

This morning, I was Googling around with no real aim in mind because FALL BREAK! – When I came across a certain news headline. The headline read, “Advertising is a poison that demeans even love – and we’re hooked on it.”

“Harsh,” I thought. But then I remembered that I was initially very skeptical about getting into advertising. You know, there’s that whole idea that the big “ad giants” are milking the world for all its worth; then there’s the idea that the industry is completely obsessed with money, and so on.

Obviously, I made the decision to attend portfolio school – at the of the end of the day, the only career path that’s 100% wholesome involves living in a nunnery – but as I’ve been learning, it turns out that advertising isn’t all about, well, deception and dollar signs. Sometimes, advertising can serve a purpose bigger than selling a good or service. Sometimes, it can… get presidents elected.

Yeah, you read that correctly. In 2008, the award-winning agency Droga5 created “The Great Schlep” –  a campaign to help Barack Obama win the presidential election. The agency targeted the state of Florida, specifically, its older Jewish population. They filmed a video starring Sarah Silverman that featured young Jews visiting their grandparents, explaining to them things like- “just because Obama’s middle name is Hussein doesn’t mean he’s a Muslim.” Debunking such myths must have been exactly what the older Jewish population needed, because in the end, the video went viral, the Great Schlep Facebook group had 25,000 members, and, most importantly, Obama received the highest percentage of Florida’s Jewish vote in 30 years. Pretty impressive.

So there’s that. Advertising DOES have the power to do “good.” To not just make consumers reach for their wallets, but to provide powerful storytelling that has the potential to REALLY change the game up.

(Thanks to Teressa Iezzi’s “The Idea Writers” for making me aware of the whole Obama-and-the-state-of-Florida thing!)

Written by: Amanda Burger

Watch the video that went viral here:

By heather : September 30, 2014

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Rick Hickey

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum, Rick Hickey, Junior Copywriter at Schafer Condon Carter, who just reached his one-year anniversary 2 days ago!

Check out his advice below:

“I’ve spent the last year working on some awesome Chicago-based clients, specifically the Cubs, Giordano’s and Ideal Industries. As a Junior CW I’ve had the chance to work on everything from campaign concepting to below-the-line email blasts and social media to print and OOH campaigns. I’ve even had the opportunity to work on TV, radio and digital copy for a range of websites and projects.”

“My Art Director and I are currently working as the leads on the 2015 campaign for the Chicago Cubs and just did a shoot at Wrigley Field for next year’s TV campaign (see the attached selfie).”

The advice I always offer young creatives is as follows:

- Be nice. You can learn a lot from listening and you never open doors with a bad attitude. If you don’t think a partner’s idea is a good idea, just write it down and move on. The bad ideas weed themselves out. Just keep pushing. There’s no need to be a jerk.

- Stay Humble. Young creatives aren’t entitled to anything. You earn what you get by working hard and thinking differently. Don’t ever be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Don’t get comfortable, there’s always something that can be done to improve.

- Nerd out and love what you do. This is a soul-sucking industry where you’ll see some of your best ideas crash and burn because somebody important won’t see your vision. Stay sharp by keeping up with the best work in the business (Adweek, AdAge, Cannes, Comm Arts, etc.) and remember that some of the greatest ideas are built on the bones of early concepts and crumpled up marker comps. Not everybody thinks the same, so be patient and keep doing what you do best, and eventually you will push something through that you can be proud of. This is a fun industry, but it’s also an emotionally draining one. Stay positive and good things will come to you.

Check out his awesome work:

By heather : September 25, 2014

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Megha Kumar

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum, Megha Kumar, Junior Copywriter at Anderson DDB in Toronto!

Check out her advice below:

“My name is Megha and I’m a Junior Copywriter at Anderson DDB (DDB’s healthcare division) in Toronto. I usually work on vitamin brands, psoriasis cream, and fun products like that. The biggest challenge in advertising is getting past the regulatory team. Great ideas do get rejected, but you have to keep at it. You never know when a client may feel experimental. Just recently, my art director partner and I competed with other senior creatives for a big, non-healthcare pitch and won it. So “miracles” do happen if you work hard.”

“My other piece of advice to all aspiring creatives is to be interesting. Don’t be afraid to be assertive and quirky, because it’s your personality that makes you stand out. Also, don’t forget your veggies. There’s a lot of free pizza and donuts in advertising. We can’t eat like we used to.”

By heather : September 18, 2014

Tags: 0 Comments

A Feature Friday: 4th Quarter Art Director, Jeff Roy

A Feature Friday: Meet 4th Quarter Art Director, Jeff Roy and learn about his awesome, time-consuming talent.

Time isn’t always on your side. But don’t worry, they are always making more of it.

Time management seems to be the biggest hurdle in Portfolio School and that is no different for 4th quarter Art Director, Jeff Roy.  Jeff’s book has some intricate work in it including some very cool hand drawn typography that had to take years off of his life (although you wouldn’t know it from that flowing mane of his). The highlight of the work for me is the Claytoon videos. Who doesn’t like claymation, am I right? Jeff has about 20 videos on his Vine site and has made probably around 60 in total.

“Each video can take anywhere from 45 minutes, to 4 to 5 hours.”

Painstaking work for sure, but it’s something that he has been doing for years and is what eventually led him in to the ad world. 

In talking to Jeff about managing his time, I discovered a unique method to knowing how to compartmentalize your time-

“I park in the metered parking so I know that when I have feed the meter, it’s time to switch gears.”

Sorry bikers… save your hippie nonsense for another day.

As far as advice for incoming students-

“At the end of the day, it’s your work, your voice, your book. As much as you have to be open to criticism and not fall in love with your first idea, you have to realize when to stand up for your work.”

Be sure and check out Jeff’s book here:

His vine videos here:

And be sure and ask him about an incredible experience when Wes Craven tweeted him and asked him to make this:

Written by: Jeff Polaschek

By heather : September 12, 2014

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Alfonso Zapata & Conor Clarke

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alumni Alfonso Zapata (Copywriter) and Conor Clarke (Associate Art Director) – who are apparently two hot babes at FCB Chicago.

Check out their advice below:

“We’re Alf and Conor, five-tenths of a team at FCB known as the Hot Babe$. We both went to CPS and then we interned together and now we work together and, sometimes, we even take naps together. Alf never cleans his desk. Conor hates him for it.”

Here’s our advice:

“Even LeBron couldn’t win a championship by himself. You need to work well with others in order to succeed. If you have a great idea, someone else could have a way to make it better. Stop. Collaborate. Listen. Don’t assume your way is the only way of doing things and especially don’t assume that you’re always right.”

“Also, always go to the bathroom before a big meeting.”

“Alf always does. Conor hates him for it.”

Take a gander at their work:

By heather : September 11, 2014

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Colin Merdian

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum, Colin Merdian – a very busy young man!  Colin is currently a full-time copywriter at SPM Marketing & Communications in LaGrange and a personal trainer at LA Fitness in Broadview.  He also does freelance work for Hopothesis (a local craft beer) where he runs their Twitter handle as well as Dollar Shave Club!

Check out what Colin has to say below:

“Two of my co-workers at SPM are former CPS alums, including my immediate subordinate. It’s a pretty great thing to bond over, and I attribute a lot to CPS in my ability to get hired at such a great place.”

“My advice for current students & aspiring ad people would be, ‘Advertising is kind of like baseball. 3 hits out of 10 plate appearances is a pretty good job. It’s ok if you strikeout a lot, cause when you finally hit that home run, which you will, it will make all those wiffs totally worth it!!’”

Take a look at Hopothesis Twitter: @Hopothesis
And Colin’s Portfolio:

By heather : September 04, 2014

Tags: 0 Comments

Previous Page   Next Page

Blog Logo