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:


Don’t look now, but a certain city in the Midwest has the best downtown in the states!

By John : October 30, 2011

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All I Got Was This Shirt

Remember that kid in high school that was too cheap to buy a yearbook? Instead, on the last day of school, he’d stroll through the halls collecting signatures on the plainest of white t-shirts. If he was popular, he’d fill it up. If he wasn’t, someone would inevitably draw something inappropriate, and he’d get sent home.

In hindsight, that kid may have been a genius.

Enter the CPS Freshman Mixer…

At the beginning of each quarter, CPS takes over a bar and buys the students drinks. It’s a great way to get to know some of your fellow students, teachers, and maybe (this is by no means a confession) sing a little karaoke.

First quarter students (like myself) are to wear a white shirt and bring sharpies. These shirts then become pages where the more seasoned CPS students write “words of wisdom” to help us survive our year at school. Even Jeff and Maria get in on the act.

All in all, it’s a darn good time.

And in the spirit of advice, I have some for next year’s newbies: Get there early (drinks go fast), and if you have white sheets like I do, don’t pass out in your shirt.

By John : October 24, 2011

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Occasionally Perfect

For a lot of people, myself included, a billboard is just a huge print ad. Pictures. Text. Just at a really large scale. (Yes, there are digital ones now, but in general a billboard is a billboard.)

For Heineken, a billboard became something different. A few weeks ago, I noticed some buzzing on Twitter and Facebook. An impromptu concert with Broken Social Scene… on a billboard. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Heineken, with Wieden + Kennedy, did a similar stunt in NYC with TV on the Radio.

They took a basic billboard ad and turned it into an experience. With a pretty good turnout too, if I might say so. My only complaint is that apparently all of Chicago is way taller than my 5-foot-4-inches.  You can read more about the event here: Heineken Light: Occasionally Perfect Billboard travels to Chicago. Or you can even watch highlights from the concert on Heineken’s YouTube Channel here.

I do have to admit though, my main point of going to this show is that my friend was sitting in with them playing trombone—but, that said, I’m glad I went because it’s good to see how others are stepping it up and turning advertising into experiences. Which for me, that’s the goal.

By christine : October 14, 2011

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Chicago is a three-peat town. AGAIN!

Explaining the Big Ad Gig would take five sentences. Go the website for the full story. In short, it’s a competition between ad students. Winners get a freelance gig at one of five prestigious creative-type places. Hence the name: Big Ad Gig.

Last year, first place went to a CPS grad. Two years ago, ditto. This year, THREE of the eight finalists are CPSers. I’m liking our odds…here’s who’ll be representing our school at the final presentations in NYC.

Steve Stenholt made a funny video.
Sara Nitz also made a funny video.
William Shandling also also made a funny video.

10/6/11 UPDATE:
William was one of the Big Winners and will be working at Martin Agency in Richmond, VA!!!

By Jeff : October 07, 2011

Tags: Advertising / Alumni / Design / Digital / Events / 1 Comments

2011 Cusp Conference Wrap Up

It’s not easy getting a CPS student out of bed before noon during school break. Let alone 11 of us, 2 days in a row.

What’ll turn night owls in to early birds? Volunteering at the 2011 Cusp Conference.

September 28 and 29 found several of us at the Museum of Contemporary Art registering attendees, guarding doorways, arranging and rearranging signage, or asking each other to repeat what someone just said so we could tweet nuggets of inspiration.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of attending or even hearing about Cusp, that may be due in part to the topic of this conference. It’s nearly indefinable.  Even after experiencing it, I struggle with calling it a discussion on the “design of everything.” What I do know is that it’s put together each year by local design firm smbolic. They call it: “part design project and part science experiment.” Essentially, smbolic finds twenty-some people who’ve turned a good idea in to a great project to present their work to a room full of about 300 curious minds.

I walked in to the conference with a list of must-see presenters. Among them were Adam Sadowsky, President and CEO of Syyn Labs; Erik Proulx, former adman and current filmmaker; and Baratunde Thurston, a writer and comedian; to put it boringly. In truth, all of the presenters have as complicated a bio as Cusp does, and I was surprised, provoked and energized by each person I heard.

While each presenter had his or her own way of exhibiting, many touched on a common theme; process matters. Whether it was Yves Béhar’s use of design to encourage positive social change or Christopher Simmons’s extraordinary look at his favorite bottle opener, most presenters stated in one way or another that success is no accident.

What I was reminded of by Cusp, and what I hope sticks with me as this quarter begins, is to not just see the end result. It’s true that CPS is a one year program – of which I am now halfway through! – and I’m here to produce the best portfolio possible. But I’m also here to experiment, ask questions, make connections and, whether I like it or not, make mistakes.

So thank you to Cusp for helping me recognize that being willing to fail can be just as respectable as being successful. And the truer I am to the process, the more likely I am to do something great.

written by Courtney McCormack

By katie : October 03, 2011

Tags: Events / 0 Comments

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