What are the best portfolio schools out there?

Basically, I'm a 4th year student finishing up my bachelor's degree in marketing in Canada and I've decided that advertising is what I want to pursue. Problem is, I dont have any creative samples or a porfolio, just ideas and an artistic soul that I havent really had the chance to show. I don't have the necessary technical skills, but I want to learn. So I have been looking at what I could do after I graudate to step up my game. I won't be able to get a job on the creative side of advertising (art direction or copywriting) with merely bachelor's degree in marketing. I need to sharpen my artistic skills with a really hands-on school.

I've been looking at Miami Ad School ever since I stumbled upon it a couple of days ago, and it seems to be a great school (and expensive :S), but I've read some reviews and not all of them are good. Creative Circus, VCU Virginia, Brainco and the Chicago Portfolio School have shown up on my search as well. I haven't done any research in schools in Canada, which I am open to looking at, or schools abroad. Do any of you have any suggestions as to what school I should attend, or even any tips that would help me get a start in an advertising career?

I also need to mention that I am itching to get out of the country and experience life from a global perspective. But if there is a good school Canada that seems to fit the criteria, then I am open to it.

Thanks! :D

15 comments

ivan's picture
ivan

Check out our online creative school: http://mediabistro.com/creative-pro

Ivan Raszl, admin of AotW

lahaff's picture
lahaff
1520 pencils

Miami ad school is the only school that's internationally famous of the ones you mentioned. So I guess that's your best bet if you want to work abroad. And their best campus seems to be located in Hamburg, Germany.

Hammad S's picture
Hammad S
484 pencils

What do you mean by best campus? (How are you comparing them?) ..I'm trying to decide as well!!

Jaap Grolleman's picture
Jaap Grolleman
7004 pencils

If by technical skills you mean design skills - you don't need them to sell your ideas. A sketch may also work. So don't use lack of photoshop skills as an excuse to yourself. Just sell your ideas.

You could also read books about advertising to get a better general idea about the business. Hey Whipple Squeeze This is the best book I can think off. (By Luke Sullivan).

In the Netherlands, Willem de Kooning Academy is the #1 in advertising & copywriting. Even Wikipedia is saying that, not just me.

Guest's picture
Guest

If you want to travel and study, the Miami Ad School is perfect as they have a quarter away programme in the second year where you do 3 months at a diff. school location in many parts of the world.
But, you can, of course just study and then travel ... don't have to combine.
Also, the school is expensive ... might be better to find something closer and then backpack and have fun with all the cash you saved!
Don't know much about schools in Canada ... check out www.ihaveanidea.org. I know some universities there offer courses.
In Holland there is also the Junior Academie (art direction) and the Hallo school (started by KesselsKramer)
The one mentioned by jackmancer is also good (perhaps a broader platform) and there is the Royal School of Art in the Hague with a new media course.
His comments on sketches probably being fine is untrue. If you see the work that gets students hired in top agencies, then you'll see that your ability to execute is important. Not just in terms of art direction and copy, but also new media. You need to be interactive/media savvy as well these days to get a good job ...
Look at Hyper Island in Sweden (and now a mini version in NY) to see what you are up against. This is the kind of ad education that is really cutting edge these days. Those grads get hired instantly.
And, while online education is a great additional source, what you miss is real contact with inspiring people and the connections you make with other students that will one day be in the industry
** remember Wikipedia is open to the world to write what they like ... it is not a proven, accountable 'authorative voice' or professionally edited website. Be careful of using it as a source of reference.
... not saying it is wrong about the WdeK Academy ... I'm sure it's great! but just for future reference.

jen89's picture
jen89
14 pencils

Thanks for the replies guys...there are so many damn choices! Just gotta know which one is best for me I suppose...

@Guest yeah i dont want to simply look at online resources, definitely not. I will use them and they will probably benefit me, but I def want some real interactive experience...and no I dont really trust Wikipedia with my important, life decisions LOL

Jaap Grolleman's picture
Jaap Grolleman
7004 pencils

Wikipedia is fine to get a first impression which you should later validate with a different source.

I didn't knew about the Hallo school, but their website isn't even working.

About sketches or fully finished art work, I don't see why you can't sketch new-media. But Luke Sullivan said the following in a Q&A:

"How important is finish? If ideas are the most important thing, can sketches be enough?

The short answer is, if your ideas are incendiary --I mean if they are hair-curlingly great -- yes, you probably can get away with a less-than-finished look. But when you have a less-than-polished book, well, you have human nature working against you. It may not seem fair, but the better lookin’ books have an advantage. It has ever been thus. Remember the handsome stupid guys in high school? Dumb as a bag of scissors, and they still attracted all the great girls? Get over it. Aaaanyway, I don’t care how you do it, but find a way to make your great ideas look like great ideas. I’m not talkin’ about kick-ass finished art, but if you can go a level or two beyond stick figures, go for it."

Luke is talking about getting hired at an ad agency here. I suppose ad schools are even more tolerant on this, since you come there, still having to learn most of the business.

Guest's picture
Guest

Please note that Sullivan says "if they are hair-curlingly great" then a sketch is okay. This is very rare.
And actually, if you read his quote again, you will discover that he is advocating that sketches are usually not enough.
Of course you can 'sketch' anything you like. There is nothing wrong with a sketch and it can quite adequately communicate a great idea.
The thing is that the really good students these days take these good sketches of great ideas AND execute them brilliantly ... this is normally followed by employment!

Jaap Grolleman's picture
Jaap Grolleman
7004 pencils

Agree. Point is, opening poster is not looking for employment (yet) but mainly to be accepted on school. I think schools are heaps more tolerant.

Hammad S's picture
Hammad S
484 pencils

Wow, I'm in almost the exact same boat as you! Completing my 4th yr of marketing, living in Canada, looking for the right ad school....(Next you'll say you go to UoG!)

I may be getting a little biased but I'm favouring MAS. For the quarter program away, unfortunately you'll have to pay all the expenses (stay, travel, etc). I spoke via email to a representative and she was telling me that MAS is one of the best priced (competitively) ad schools.

You know what you can do? Take a few courses and just start developing a portfolio...and then apply to an ad school. However you don't even require sending MAS any previous creative work.

I don't know anything about the other ad schools, honestly. However, in Canada I hear about Sheridan College and George Brown College. There's an ad agency a friend of mine worked at who told me employees there graduated from the program at George Brown.

EDIT
I just realized I'm a year too late in responding!

arthor's picture
arthor
515 pencils

George Brown
Humber
OCAD

I have heard great things of the first two, I go to OCAD all of my ad profs were/are in the industry working as CDs ADs, etc. Do not go here if you're looking to be a copywriter.

kava's picture
kava
4 pencils

Arthur, how's OCAD for Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media and Design, if you know please help. I've got through there but have heard it's too theoretical . I have worked in advertising and wish to continue that, but also want to improve my design sense..so I applied. Now I'm all confused. please suggest!

Copykat11's picture
Copykat11
2 pencils

I need help too... but I'm in the U.S. ... Urbana-Champaign, in Illinois to be exact... I was thinking Miami in SF, but again, in IL... Any tips?

apedropinto's picture
apedropinto
23 pencils

Hi!

I've been searching the Internet in the past few months (and also talking to every professional I could get in touch with) about portfolio/ advertising schools and I've narrowed my choices to two:

1st) Attend MAS in Hamburg, since I'm European (portuguese, so I would have to pay for accomodation and everything);

2nd) Attend a Porftolio school in NYC, since I've got family and friends there (also visited recently and gone absolutely mad about living there: as tacky as it may sound I'd definitely imagine living there for a couple of years). In fact, there IS a MAS in Brooklyn, but they aren't accepting international studens for now (they've opened recently). So:

Do you know any Portfolio School in NYC that you would recommend?

Thanks!

kava's picture
kava
4 pencils

Arthur, how's OCAD for Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media and Design? if you know please help. I've got through there but have heard it's too theoretical . I'm interested in advertising but want to improve my design sense.. please suggest

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