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The Chicago Portfolio School

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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: Rachael (McLean) Kusper

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS alum Rachael Kusper, Art Director at Burrell Communications.

Check out her advice:

“When I first came out of CPS I was ready to jump in headfirst, make some killer campaigns that make people think, laugh and cry. Instead, my internship consisted of countless banner ads, in-house posters for the next agency get together, a sign for my bosses desk to tell people where to put his mail…basically not anything that anyone, anywhere would remember. However, I did it with a smile on my face and the conviction that those were going to be the best banner ads ANYONE had ever seen (they weren’t, but I digress). After my internship ended and I got my first job, the assignments didn’t budge that much, but one day a big project came to the agency and I was determined to work on it. For almost a year my days consisted of getting my assigned work completed and my nights were dedicated to working on that project. After all the late nights, weekends, headaches, frustration and revisions, I ended up producing the work and gained a great book piece, a mentor and invaluable experience.”

Advise to current students:
“Always strive to make better work. Learn the rules and then learn how to break them. It’s easy to want to make things that are cool for cool sake. What’s challenging is to think of big ideas that help move the brand forward. Really understand the brand you’re working for. When I look at student work, something that always stands out is when work is created that is completely outside that brand’s voice. It makes me think that the work wasn’t created for the brand, rather for the creative. While the industry we chose is fun, exciting and constantly pushing boundaries; we have to remember that our job is to build a connection between the consumer and the brand.”

Take a look at her book: http://rachaelmclean.com

By heather : February 25, 2016

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What’s in my Office Thursday: Vince Soliven

What’s in my Office Thursday: Meet CPS alum Vince Soliven, Executive Creative Director at MVNP in Honolulu, Hawaii!

Check out his advice below:

“Wisdom: If your first opportunity out of school is a freelance gig, work your ass off. Give them their day rate’s worth. Then, when you’re done burning the midnight oil and delivered creatively, go introduce yourself to the CD that’s working on the best work in the agency. Ask him/her if you can help. They’ll give something to you, because everyone needs help. When you’re almost done with that project, go meet another CD and do the same. The goal is to stick your hands in as many cookie jars as humanly possible. You’re essentially assigning yourself jobs. That way, you’ll always be working on something. And you’ll always be in demand. Eventually, they’ll figure out that they need to hire you.”

Connect with him on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vince-soliven-5443535?authType=NAME_SEARCH&authToken=tSNZ&locale=en_US&trk=tyah&trkInfo=clickedVertical%3Amynetwork%2CclickedEntityId%3A15786052%2CauthType%3ANAME_SEARCH%2Cidx%3A1-2-2%2CtarId%3A1455824564290%2Ctas%3Avince

What you’ll find in his office:

- Selfie with a jackalope taxidermy wearing a lei. Does it make sense? No. Does it have to?
- A view from my office. It’s being obscured by a handful of post it notes that were placed on my window while I was out on paternity leave. They all represent thoughts and ideas when you have a baby girl. My favorite one? “Thongs.” Dammit.
- A cow vertebrae. I found it in the grass while on a location scout for this spot
- Black Label—because some days are just like that.
- Wine fridge—now filled with beer.

By heather : February 18, 2016

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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: http://nickmicale.com

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 Lynda.com.  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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