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: Jeff Roy

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum Jeff Roy, Associate Art Director at Golin. While at CPS, Jeff’s print ad for Kohler (the one with Jimmy Hendrix) was featured in Lurzer’s Archive student section, and his Square Cash app idea was named Young Glory’s Student Silver!

Check out his advice below:

“First off, I’m an Art Director which means I can’t word, so please bear with me. Just kidding, I’m eloquent as a mofo. I once heard a story about a seed. I can’t really remember the details, but the message was that some seeds stay dormant for years and years before finally sprouting, and rapidly growing into an immense, beautiful and neat tree. It takes the perfect mixture of timing, luck and determination for that tiny seed to finally sprout. But, it will sprout.”

“Think of your time in school as being like that little seed. You may not see that you’re making progress, and think you’re not growing – but you are.  Trust me. So take this time to learn from your mistakes, do the kind of bold work that clients will never buy and just have fun. Soon enough, you’ll all be some big ass redwoods looking back at the CPS days with fond nostalgia.”

“Above all though, be nice to everyone. If you can take one thing away from this rant – it’s to be nice to everyone. Oh, and be like that seed, so two things. Wait. Also, stay neat. Those three things and you’ll be fine. Trust me, I’ve been employed for over 6 months now…”

“P.S. I’m sorry the above got delusional about halfway through. It was finished at 3 am after an 18-hour day. But, I’m still saying being in advertising is worth every minute of stress, every dead idea and every sleepless night. So you know it must be fun.”

“Best of luck and see you all soon when you’re taking my job,
- Jeff.”

Check out Jeff’s talented work here:

By heather : March 26, 2015

Tags: 0 Comments

Social Media Obsessed

I went off on a tangent in Jeff’s class once about why I don’t use Snapchat. Basically my argument was, it takes too much time for me to be constantly updating my friends on the complete banality of my daily life and I also don’t have enough time to be constantly updated on the banality of theirs, either. I tried it before. But Snapchat doesn’t do anything for me.

The problem with our generation is that we are so plugged into to all these different outlets that allow us to share every detail of our lives that I don’t think we’re paying that much attention to our actual lives. We aren’t living for moments anymore, we’re living for uploads. I can guarantee you the next concert you attend, a good chunk of the audience is going to watch it through their crappy phone camera, trying to get a good picture for Instagram instead of actually enjoying the show.

We’ve created an entire social brand in our society of overly stimulated narcissism that keeps growing constantly. With the amount of social sharing apps my generation uses, I feel like the protocol for doing anything is, “Let me post about my day on Facebook, then send a tweet, then text all my friends to check out my posts, then send them all a Snap of my face with a caption that has nothing to do with my face, then post it to Instagram, check my Gmail, my Hangouts, my Pinterest boards, my Yik Yak, my Tumblr, see if I matched with anyone on Tinder, check my texts real quick, then update my Snapchat story with 125 seconds of me doing nothing! I’ll repeat this for the rest of the day.” How did we find people before smartphones? Did we actually make plans and commit to them, then spend the time enjoying each other’s company while making eye contact and having real conversations? That sounds great.

Some of these apps are fun. I use a handful of them and fully understand around two of them. I think Tinder is creepy. I’m still not entirely sure how I’m supposed to be reading Tumblr comments. When I set up Uber, it said to hold your card in the red box and it would scan automatically and I physically laid my phone down and put my card on the red box on my screen. In my defense, wine. I made a Vine once. But for the most part, I like to keep up on my social media. I just think in some cases, we’ve gotten to the point where we are more attached to our phones than to the people we’re sending the content to. We should give it a rest sometimes.

Social media is certainly in no danger of being a dying trend in pop culture anytime soon, and I feel that it should be embraced to its full potential. But there is a thin line between being connected and being conceited, and the millennial generation is flirting with it. Thanks for listening, readers, I needed to get that off my chest. Now stop reading this blog on the Internet where I ironically shared my opinions about people sharing their opinions on the Internet and go play outside. There’s still snow on the ground.

Written by CPS Blogger: Jillian Aramowicz

By heather : March 24, 2015

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Cassidy Pazyniak

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet recent CPS alum Cassidy Pazyniak, Copywriting Intern at Edelman.

Check out her advice below:

“I’m giving you CPS advice that’s basically life advice, so think of me as Chicken Soup for the Soul.  The books, not the meal.  #TBT.”

“I came from a job that did nothing to stimulate my mind.  Maybe we all need to work at something we don’t really enjoy before we’re allowed to do what we love – because then you feel this gratitude.  To go to school every day with funny people, to spend your days creating, to stand at the front of a class and realize just how bad an idea is when you say it out loud, and for the free basket of pretzels at Ocals.” 

“This gratitude you feel, it has to drive you.  Not to be better than anyone, because you will see at school and in the real world, there is so much talent all around you.  The only person you’re trying to be better than is the ‘you’ from a quarter..a week..a day ago.”

“It can’t be said enough. The love you give is the love you get – in your work, in your art director/copywriter relationship, in your life.  So feel gratitude for this opportunity and then love the crap out of it.”

“God speed you talented mf’ers.”

Take a look at her awesome book:

Follow her on Twitter: @CassPaz

By heather : March 19, 2015

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Diana Ahn

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum Diana Ahn, Designer at Slalom Consulting.

Check out her advice below:

“Here are a few things that I’ve learned…

1.    Be the person you would like to work with.  Be nice. Smile often. And compliment people when necessary.

2.    Listen to what other people say about your work. As a designer, you have to listen to what the client wants, and (even though sometimes it seems impossible) make it look good. Feedback or criticism will only make your work better.

3.    Talk. This can be hard especially as the newbie at a company. But the person next to you will say what you were thinking and get a whole lot of credit for it. Your opinions count and are just as valid as anyone else’s.

4.    Be curious. Ask questions. You’ll never know unless you ask.

5.    Continue learning. You will never be the authority on type or design. So, continue exploring, reading, listening, and be proactive about knowing more about your craft.

6.    Lastly… Be human. And understand what it means to be human. Everyone makes mistakes and changes their mind. Embrace it. Enjoy it. At times, complain about it. Learn that not everyone is like you. But remember that everyone matters.”

Check out her beautiful portfolio here:

By heather : March 05, 2015

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Will Bright

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum Will Bright, Creative Director at JWT in the Big Apple. Will has produced insanely talented work for BMW, Ad Council Adoption, Porsche and more – be sure to check it all out!

Here are some of Will’s true stories and the lessons he’s learned along the way:


I got let go from my first job after two days. In fairness it was a freelance gig, but I was supposed to be there at least a couple of weeks. In the middle of the second day the creative director said as nicely as possible, “You don’t know what you’re doing and we don’t have time to teach you.”

Right there, I realized that even after a year of school, I still didn’t know what I was doing. The real education starts once you start working.


My second job was a full time gig and my first assignment was writing a series of overhead announcements that would be played in the elevators of a casino in Detroit.

If there’s a bottom rung on a ladder, that’s it.

But for the first time I was making something real. And early on that’s all that matters. Just focus on making a lot of stuff. You don’t have to love everything, but producing actual work is how you will really get better.


When I worked on BMW I was able to go down to their performance driving school in South Carolina a couple times. I don’t know what other jobs are like, but I’m pretty sure that accountants or teachers or regional supply chain managers don’t get paid to test-drive BMW’s all day.

Sure, there will be bad days. But for the most part this is an incredibly amazing business. Just ask your friends and family how many of them have beer fridges, or summer Fridays or get to see something they made out in the real world or on TV.

Take a look at his work:

By heather : February 26, 2015

Tags: 0 Comments

The Ghost of CPS

Not many of you will believe me when I say this, but rest assured, the Chicago Portfolio School is haunted.

It was a dark and stormy night in late October and I was working on the fourth floor at CPS. Class had ended, but I was working late on a campaign for Pine-Sol and I refused to go home. I glanced out the window. Traffic whizzed on the street below and the sounds of engines revving, brakes squealing, and sirens whirring in the distance floated up to me. A chill hung in the air. I was making marker comps… and that’s when the trouble started.

My marker comps were pinned to the tackboard and I sat with my notepad staring at the wall. I was wondering which of my print ads worked best when I heard footsteps behind me. I turned around, but all I saw was old scrap paper fluttering in the wind. I refocused on the tackboard and noticed something odd. Four pins were in the middle of one of my executions and the words “feels like a one off” were written in what appeared to be a red sharpie. BUT I DIDN’T HAVE A RED SHARPIE…

“I must have done this absentmindedly,” I said to myself, looking back down to my legal pad. I wrote a few more headlines. Wash your floor with a Christmas tree. Boring. The best thing about Pine-Sol is the easy cleanup. Dumb. Make your house smell like a lumberjack’s daydream. Ugh. I rested my forehead in my palms, when I heard a voice behind me whisper.

“Where does it live?”

My head snapped around, but I didn’t see anything. “Who’s there?” I yelled.

Then, again, from just behind my ear, “Say it straight… then say it great.”

A cold sweat dripped down my brow and my hands shook as I uncapped my pen and grabbed a piece of printer paper. I drew out a bottle of Pine-Sol being poured into a bucket and wrote my headline. At this low price, buying Pine-Sol is just a drop in the bucket. As soon as I wrote that final “t”, I felt hard slaps across my face. SMACK! “Never base advertising on the price.” SMACK! “Don’t use puns.” SMACK! “That’s too see-say.”

My heart was pounding and I struggled for breath. “Who are you?” I gasped. “What do you want with me?”

At that, a cloud began forming in front of me. At first it seemed like a haze or a fog rolling in from the street, but after a moment I saw her outline form. The apparition was a young girl, in her early-to-mid twenties, wearing jeans and a plaid shirt. She had thick-rimmed glasses and a sharpie in her pocket. Her mouth fell open, “My name is Gashley, and I am the portfolio school spectre.”

I began to say, “Gashley, that’s an odd nam—”
Interrupting, she shrieked, “It’s a portmanteau of ghost and ashley! I don’t make the rules for ghost naming!”

“Oh”, I said, “Why are you here?”

“It is my curse to haunt hopeless students of this school, to tell them when to give up on a concept.”

“How did you die?”

“That’s a long story”, she said. “I had become obsessed with a concept that none of my instructors liked. I shopped it around, and one by one they told me it wasn’t working, but I didn’t believe them. I thought that it just needed to be pushed. So I pushed, and I pushed, night after night, trying to make this concept work. Well, I pushed too hard and had an aneurysm. I didn’t kill my idea, and it wound up killing me. And now I’m here to tell you to kill yours.”

I tried to explain to her that I almost had the concept figured out, and started pointing out my other executions on the board. “Booooooooo!” she howled, and then, “just to be clear I am not just saying boo, I am heckling your terrible idea.” It was only then, looking at her ethereal corpse, that I realized she was right.

“Pine-sol is for lumberjack housewives on a budget is not a genius concept,” I agreed, “Thanks Gashley.” With that, she vanished into thin air. I haven’t seen her since, but I still sometimes hear her whispering “would you put it in your book?”

Written by: Jon Podulka - CPS Blogger & 3rd Quarter Copywriter

By heather : February 24, 2015

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Natalie Valliere-Kelley

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet recent CPS alum Natalie Valliere-Kelley, Junior Art Director at Jacobson Rost.

Check out her advice below:

“The best advice I can give to anyone at CPS is to absolutely work your a$$ off for the one-year period of time that you are there. It might sound cliché, but you 1000% get out what you put in to the school. You can take all of the same classes as other people, but the quality of work and knowledge that you take away from that class can be completely different, depending on how willing you are to really dig in and work hard. Commit to a year of late nights, occasional meltdowns, and humility to taking criticism. You will come out with a book that will put you in high demand and incredible instructor connections that will pay dividends when you’re job hunting.”

Check out Natalie’s portfolio here:

By heather : February 19, 2015

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum Meredith Niles

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet recent CPS alum Meredith Niles, Junior Art Director at Leo Burnett.

Check out her advice below:

“I’m very new to the “real world,” but I’ll try my best to give some worthwhile advice. First, a year at CPS flies by WAY too fast, so take advantage of it. It’s rare in life to have this kind of time to dedicate to pursuing your passion. Draw, write, take pictures, partner up with the talented folks around you, get inspired by this amazing city, cultivate hobbies, and always be thinking about how to make your work better. Our end goal of Portfolio School is, of course, to get a job. But perhaps even more importantly it’s to look back and say we’ve truly made the most of our time.’

“If you’re in the design track like I was, take on an art direction project; you’ll likely find yourself in advertising at some point. I’d offer the same advice to copywriters and art directors, too. Expanding the scope of your portfolio can only help you land a job – everything you do informs your craft!”

“Be curious, passionate, confident and kind. Ask a lot of questions of your teachers, your fellow students, and your coworkers once you’ve landed your first job. Everyone started somewhere and it’s the best way to grow. There will be an incredibly steep learning curve in your first few months of work. There will be hard days and long nights. BUT get excited. Waking up every morning to do creative work is one of the most rewarding things in the world!”

Take a look at her book:

By heather : February 12, 2015

Tags: 0 Comments

A Deliciously Creative Side Project

Kelly Pratt, CPS Alum and current Product Design Lead at the Onion, is the perfect example for how important and rewarding it can be to create a side project. 

Stately Sandwiches is her deliciously creative personal project, where she makes signature sandwiches for all 50 states – and eats them, of course.  The 50th sandwich was eaten on June 14, 2014 – after more than 2 years of Kelly’s hard work.

The state sandwiches are deconstructed and beautifully photographed – which will soon be in a bookstore near you! Expect to see a Stately Sandwiches book in 2016.  Huge congratulations to Kelly – what an amazing accomplishment! 

Check out her project:

Follow updates on her book: @StatelySandwich

Take a look at Kelly’s portfolio:

By heather : February 10, 2015

Tags: 0 Comments

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum Brittany Hughes

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS Alum Brittany Hughes, Copywriter at R/West in Portland, Oregon.

Check out her advice below:

“During portfolio school, I always thought I had a pretty good idea of where I saw myself after graduation. I’m sure most of you do. And now that I’m sitting 2,000 miles away in Portland, Oregon, I realize that my plans couldn’t be further from reality.”

“My advice to you is to keep your options open. Seize every opportunity. If it doesn’t work out, learn from it. It’s a stepping stone to something that will. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. You’ll learn, you’ll grow, and you’ll continue to find new things to inspire you. Start your career as a freelancer. It’s a great way to make good money and see if the agency is a good fit – and vice versa. Even if you end up at the best of the best, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where you’ll do your best work. Find a culture, team, and work life balance that makes you happy. And if you ever find yourself crying in the bathroom stall – quit. Immediately.”

“Good luck little creatives, the world is your oyster. Season it accordingly.”

Take a look at her work here:

Follow her on Twitter: @brittnyhughes

By heather : February 05, 2015

Tags: 0 Comments

Previous Page   Next Page

Blog Logo