Monday, June 29, 2009


I toured Minneapolis College of Art & Design last week and came away very impressed with their offerings. If you are considering graphic design schools right now, put MCAD on your list. Here's why:

They have a very strong curriculum; the course descriptions had me wishing I could go there. MCAD gives equal weight to teaching the real-world application of an art/design/advertising degree above and beyond teaching technical skills.

For instance, there's one class called Creating and Running a Business. From marketing yourself to estimating projects and invoicing clients, it's teaching job skills that I'm sure are a god send to beginning freelancers. Maybe this class is standard at other schools, but from my perspective the "how to run a business" ability is often lacking at the graduate level. We just think they'll learn business sense on the job. Yet for new graduates who, in the current economy, might be hard pressed to get hired, starting and running a freelance business may be their only option.

Add to that a hip city-wide art community, a just-right-sized campus, an impressive faculty list and some of the coolest hands on workshops I've ever seen, and you've got reason to consider MCAD.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


This is, by far, the most unique portfolio website I have seen. Ever.

I instantly want to know more about this guy. After all, isn't that the only purpose of a portfolio website?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Spare Me

I highly dislike Carbonmade as a place to house your creative portfolio.

The navigation stinks. If I have to click 100 times up, down and sideways to see all your work, I guarantee I stop after about 25 times (and that's generous).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

In Reference to Previous Post

My recent post called "Keeping Pace" – now that I re-read it– could possibly be taken two ways, one of which I didn't intend.

I quoted Brandcenter Director Rick Boyko who said, "we don't teach from the past." And I thought this was an excellent example of an ad school being progressive within an ever-changing industry. Brandcenter is focused on teaching what's current in advertising, branding and media. I applaud them.

What I didn't intend is that "not teaching from the past" meant not teaching the foundations of advertising. It's essential to know the basics before you can learn the complex.

The commenter on my original post said it perfectly, "there are some fundamentals that are essential to mastering commercial communications -- whether in print or online. Understanding how brands work and their relationships with consumers. Understanding the power of empathy. Knowing how media and creative must fuse together (contact + content). The importance of a clear brand idea (and not just an executional idea). These are essential concepts that all successful advertising people need to understand, whether they are entering the business or veterans of the industry. One cannot dwell on the past, but must learn from it to thrive in the future. As somebody once said to me, there is no such thing as traditional media...only traditional thinking."

Every school should teach you the fundamentals. The best schools are teaching you what to do with them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The London Project

You gotta love ingenuity in the face of desperation. Six Creative Circus students are nominated for D&AD pencils and really, really want to travel to London to attend the show. But that really, really costs a lot of money. Money they don't have.

Check out this video that leads you to their website called The London Project. A pretty cool idea to get people rallying around their fundraising efforts. Or at least to get people like me talking about their brilliant idea.

Made me smile. And take a look around my office to see what I can send them; I narrowed it down to my 3-foot-high dancing chimp sign.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Keeping Pace

I came across a quote today from Brandcenter director Rick Boyko. He said, "We're not teaching from the past at all. . ." He's saying this in reference to Brandcenter's commitment to "develop a curriculum that keeps pace with where the industry is going."

Not teaching from the past. A very simple idea, but extremely difficult to execute. I call it simple because when you think about it, each and every school in existence should not teach from the past. To graduate truly educated people who are current in the latest technology, culture, innovation, business acumen, whatever, it's essential to teach what's current in the industry. Ok, easy.

Very difficult because staying abreast of (forget ahead of) industry changes, then authoring it into a school's curriculum and finally teaching it, may in fact be near impossible. This morning I was complaining how hard it was to keep with all the changes going on in technology. Imagine needing to do the same with advertising curriculum before it becomes obsolete. You'd need to update practically every semester.

A basic example from a few years back is when some schools held tightly to Quark when the entire industry was moving toward InDesign. I'm still shocked when current students tell me they've only learned Quark (ignore the fact the programs are practically identical). When I hear this, I'm less shocked about the student than I am about the school. Keep in mind this is a rudimentary example of a more profound condition.

Being up to date should not be optional in our educational system. Following in Brandcenter's footsteps, not teaching from the past should be everyone's mandate. As a result, every ad school graduate would be a much more productive creative contributor from day one.