TAI Professor Mark Allen Judges BBB Video Contest

TAI Professor Mark Allen

TAI Professor Mark Allen was one of six local advertising professionals to act as a judge for the BBB Serving North Central Texas’s video contest. Students from seven local high schools created 1-minute PSAs about BBB’s services to illustrate the contest theme, “Be Smart. Be Informed,” to North Texas consumers.

Students from local high schools Berkner High School, Booker T. Washington High School, Lagrone Advanced Technology Complex, Lincoln High School, New Tech High School @Coppell, Richardson High School, and Rockwall High School were selected to participate in the competition because of their strong film, journalism, and audio video production programs.

“I was totally blown away by the talent of the students and the advanced capabilities of the winning high school programs—in fact, I had a hard time believing that these were just high school students,” Professor Allen said. “I was equally impressed with the teachers I met from Richardson High School, Berkner High School and New Tech High School in Coppell. I have been talking with all three since the competition and we are making plans to have their students visit SMU to discuss opportunities for collaboration between our students in the future. I’m hoping some of these students might consider applying to TAI’s creative track in the future—we’d sure love to have them.”

The videos were judged on production quality, creativity, the teams’ ability to market them, and effectiveness at representing BBB. The first phase of the contest took place online. The 17 videos submitted racked up an impressive 320,259 likes on this site. The second phase of the contest took place on one of BBB|NCTX’s Facebook pages, where students were encouraged to promote the videos among their friends on Facebook.

TAI Professor Peter Noble speaking at the BBB Video Contest Awards

The winning team was from New Tech High School in Coppell for their video titled, “Don’t be scammed by this guy.” Berkner High School and LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex placed in the top three. The schools of the winning teams will collectively receive $4,000 in donations to their Audio Visual programs. The students of the winning team will each receive a GoPro digital video camera and cash prizes. The winning video will be used in BBB|NCTX marketing efforts for 2018.

TAI also had an information booth at the BBB Student Video Contest Prize Ceremony on December 7.

TAI Student Jolie Guz Interning with Read Between the Lines

TAI’s advertising students are encouraged to take advantage of as many internship opportunities as possible. Creative track student Jolie Guz has followed that advice, which has allowed her to gain valuable experience in different industries as well as help shape her career goals for the future.

Photo by: Jennings Ross

This semester, Guz is a copywriting intern for stationery company Read Between The Lines®.

“As a copywriting intern, I help write copy of all kinds!” Guz said. “From email newsletters to blog posts to Instagram captions, I help carry the voice of the Read Between The Lines® brand. Primarily, I focus on Instagram captions for our daily posts which are viewed by over sixteen thousand followers as well as product descriptions for the online portion of our business – we add new products from our favorite makers each week!”

Guz has been fascinated with Read Between The Lines® for a while. She actually won one of their Instagram giveaways when she was in high school. Since starting her internship she has learned even more about the brand.

“I have learned an incredible amount about SEO and how to write copy in our brand voice while still being able to add my own style,” Guz said. “I have also learned the value of gift giving! Each person that comes into the shop has a different story or experience that drives the way they make a purchase. I love hearing customers make comments on certain cards or phrases they find relatable.”

Her priority is writing Instagram captions for daily posts. She also works with the graphic design intern and creative manager to create newsletter emails for the week. Outside of her regular responsibilities she also gets to work with new makers and products and attend maker events.

“When we add new makers and products to the shop, I get to help write the descriptive copy that introduces our customers to the new maker!” Guz said. “I was [also] able to travel to Silo-Bration, which is a huge independent maker shopping event at the Silos in Waco, TX. It was awesome to be able to interact with people who are so passionate about the products we create and to meet all of our Instagram followers in real life!”

Many of her creative courses and professors helped prepare her for a copywriting position, as she’s been able to get lots of practice and feedback.

Jolie Guz with Jennings Ross, and Melinda Jones.
Photo by: Emily Jarvis

“The copywriting practice I gained in [Professor Allen] and [Professor Baronet] Portfolio classes has been insanely helpful when it comes to writing captions and newsletters,” Guz said. “The guidance I’ve received from [Professor] Jason Shipp in his classes has also been influential in the process of writing and re-writing copy of all kinds.”

Prior to this semester, Guz has had several other internship and freelancing positions where she gained experience in several different industries.

“[As a] Branding Intern [for] Page Architecture, I was able to gain experience working within very strict branding guidelines and on architectural photoshoots,” Guz said. “Plus I learned a lot about great architecture! [As a] Design Intern [for] Texas Legends NBA Developmental League Team, I was able to work in the crazy world of sports. I was able to help create stadium signage, jersey designs and merchandise for the team. [As a] Graphic Designer [for] Spirit of America Productions, [a company that] takes high school dance teams to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade each year, I design postcards and merchandise for the event as well as help walk in the parade in NYC each year!”

With preparation from her courses, previous internship opportunities, and now her position at Read Between The Lines®, Guz has a good idea of the culture she wants in future positions.

“I’ve absolutely loved my time in Temerlin and at SMU,” Guz said. “The people are absolutely priceless in this program, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world! I [also] absolutely love our Read Between The Lines® Team! I know that I want to be surrounded by creative gems of human beings just like them throughout my career.”

TAI Students Work with Executives from Black Eye

Black Eye, a design and marketing communications agency, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year. Founded in 1997 by SMU alumnus Chris Stewart (’95, ’97), the agency works for a wide range of clients–from national, blue-chip companies to small local businesses.

(Left to Right, Front Row): Morgan Martin, Black Eye, Black Eye founder Chris Stewart, Glen Gauthier, Black Eye Creative Director, Hank Benzenberg, Black Eye, TAI Advertising Professor Willie Baronet, (Far Left Corner) TAI Advertising Professor Mark Allen, shown with SMU Advertising Students at the Advanced Portfolio Critique and workshop held Monday, October 2, 2017.

To help mark their anniversary, the creative team from Black Eye took the afternoon and evening of October 2 to work with SMU advertising students. Coordinated through SMU Advertising Professors Mark Allen and Willie Baronet, they first assisted in an Advanced Portfolio Critique and later provided an in-depth look at their company and agency-life during a workshop.

“There is nothing like ‘real world’ experience and stories to get our students excited and motivated about their careers,” TAI Professor Willie Baronet said. “Black Eye did a fantastic job of sharing their work, creative approach, and how they got where they are. The students and faculty really enjoyed and appreciated their time and wisdom.”

Black Eye provided food and beverages at the event, which was attended by approximately 25 TAI students. Students were especially interested in advice from creative professionals how to set their portfolios apart, and the differences between working in larger agencies versus smaller studios.

“We’ve never had an entire firm close up shop so they could bring the whole creative team over,” TAI Professor Mark Allen said. “I know our students really appreciated it.”

“We wanted to take a break from our day-to-day, reflect on everything that’s transpired over the last 20 years and give back a little to the University where it all started,” Steward said. “We really enjoyed the experience of working with the students and think they will have bright opportunities.”

The students at Temerlin Advertising Institute greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet and work with creative professionals in the industry.

TAI Creative Student Riley Frost Interns with Brass Tacks Collective

TAI creative advertising student Riley Frost has been working as an apprentice at Brass Tacks Collective since July. While her experience is considered an internship, it is far from the average agency internship.

“Brass Tacks Collective runs on a paid apprenticeship program,” Frost said. “My day-to-day job is working with a team lead that acts as a guide throughout the creative process for each project. I work with other apprentices in a collaborative rather than competitive manner, and one of these days will be given the responsibility to lead a project.”

Frost in the Brass Tacks Collective office.

Frost was encouraged to apply for the position by TAI creative advertising Professor Willie Baronet, and she has loved her time there since the beginning.

“Our days at Brass Tacks are full of jokes, sing-a-longs, and tons of fun,” Frost said. “We work for several non-profit organizations around the Dallas area, and those heart-warming experiences are some I will never forget. Our team goes into every meeting with confidence and of course a sense of humor. One thing is for sure; boring days at Brass Tacks do not exist.”

Brass Tacks brands themselves as a “teaching agency” that is made up of paid “apprentices” working on local clients. Since starting, Frost has gained valuable skills that she can apply to her future career.

“It has only been about three months since I started working at Brass Tacks, and I have learned so much,” Frost said. “I have learned how to use new programs such as Sketch and Invision, as well as deepened my understanding of the Adobe Programs. Production skills aside, I have learned how the real world of advertising works. Clients can be difficult, but you have to go into each situation poised and patient.”

Frost has also taken the skills she’s learned in her advertising courses and applied them to her work at Brass Tacks.

“Everything I have learned [in my advertising classes] has come into play in some way or another,” Frost said. “The main one though is the importance of having a concept behind any design or campaign.”

Working for such a unique agency has given Frost a perspective on what she wants for her future career in the advertising world.

“It has taught me that I want to work at a small agency rather than a huge machine of a company,” Frost said. “I want to do work for big clients, but also want to give back to the community. Brass Tacks has taught me how to balance both.”

One thing Frost wanted to make sure that everyone knows is that, “Brass Tacks rocks.”

The Temerlin Advertising Institute for Education and Research (TAI) trains students to search for unique solutions in advertising, preparing them for work in advertising agencies, media firms, corporate marketing departments, design studios and more.

TAI Student Wade Burton Shares Freelance Design Experience

Many creative advertising students and professionals alike have a working job as a freelance designer. However, not everyone is able to turn it into a successful job outlet. TAI creative advertising student Wade Burton is currently enjoying success as a freelance designer, while balancing the hefty load of schoolwork that comes with his major.

Wade Burton (’18)

Burton didn’t start designing with the intention to be a freelancer. After downloading Adobe Illustrator and playing around with it, he became inspired to constantly create.

“It was a very natural progression from there,” Burton said. “Friends and friends of friends started seeing this work I did, probably on my Instagram or Snapchat, and started reaching out. When labels need to be used, I prefer designer to graphic designer simply because when these people tap me for work, what I have realized they want more than my computer clicking abilities is the way I think, and that’s easily the most rewarding part of the freelance work I do.”

Through his experience freelancing, Burton has become firm in his viewpoint of creativity and creative work. He prefers to take a less mainstream approach to his work for clients.

“My learning experiences freelancing are also fairly nontraditional as far as I understand the industry,” Burton said. “[TAI] Professor Mendenhall once spoke to 99% of graphic design work being able to create on the computer screen what your client dictates to you, and 1% being you executing your vision. I took this to heart, and told myself from the start that I always wanted to operate exclusively in that one percent – to the occasional chagrin of Prof. Mendenhall’s project grading rubrics. I made the conscious decision that if I ever wanted to get into design full-time, I would only do so upon being recognized for my personal style. I hold respect for graphic designers, and I hold even more respect for those who break the mold, going against the status quo and earning recognition and praise for it.”

Created for the Perot Museum, from Burton’s portfolio.

As part of his time in the advertising program, Burton was able to be a member of SMU’s 2016 NSAC Ad Team. Through the Ad Team experience got a glimpse of what it’s like to work under the guidance of superiors.

“Ad Team taught me how to exercise humility and practice respect for authority,” Burton said. “Working under a boss is a subject that my freelance work never really broached on, because I always maintained total control of the product until the contract’s completion. Additionally, Ad Team taught me how rewarding a project’s journey to completion can be once you see it entirely through. Even in summer internships, that feeling of completion is frequently lacking. In the agency world, it can take months or even longer for something like a TV spot to go from project brief to production to airing. Ad Team provided a complete experience of this lifecycle in a single semester, even if it didn’t end on a nationally displayed television commercial.”

TAI’s Creative Advertising program has taught Burton a lot about the creative world, especially the many different approaches to creativity and how to apply that in the advertising industry.

“Temerlin’s Creative program has shaped the way I think about creativity as a whole,” Burton said. “Lots of people will say that you can’t be taught creativity, which I would agree with to some extent. But you can be better taught how to think creatively. Thanks to Mark [Professor Allen] and Willie [Professor Baronet], I have learned to take in everything as inspiration. Whether it’s inspiration for what not to do, or work that I wish I had come up with, I have learned a greater appreciation for everything artistic because sources of inspiration come from all over. Mark and Willie have also taught me the importance of creating good advertising work. Their constant feedback and willingness to help and see us succeed pushes me to always create the best work possible. These are people who I didn’t really know two years ago, and now would be ashamed of disappointing by doing anything short of excelling in this creative program.”

Created for Southwest Acupuncture, from Burton’s portfolio.

Burton is currently an art direction intern at McCann Humancare, a health subsidiary of McCann New York, where he’s been able to put his creativity to the test.

“It’s a pretty common industry stigma to work in health, or pharma as most people will call it,” Burton said. “So I learned quickly to get over that because worrying about other people’s negative opinions of your job can really slow you down and there’s no time for that, especially when you’re working in NYC. I’ve also come to learn that of the most exciting aspects of working ‘pharma’ is that the extensive restrictions breed creative excellence. The second week that I was here, the McCann Health network swept the floor at Cannes, heading home with 25 Lions. Suffice to say, any lingering fears of having to do mundane work subsided upon receipt of that announcement.”

All of his experiences, both school and work-related, have truly helped shape him as a person and guide him towards having a successful career while leading a healthy lifestyle.

“I believe that all of my experiences speak directly to my strengths of independence and adaptability,” Burton said. “Living in New York City is not easy, especially going into a creative field. Being able to live comfortably on my own and constantly roll with the punches has prepared me for life after graduation. I think independence is something extremely undervalued and under-taught. Having friends and a burgeoning social life is fantastic and undeniably necessary to personal health, but finding your own way in this transition out of college into the workforce doesn’t happen if you exclusively live other people’s lives with them and are afraid to be independent.”

Sisters Jessica and Tiffany Giraudon Attend the TAI Program Together

Going to school with a sibling is an experience that many siblings have in their lifetime. However, more rarely do students have the experience of attending the same college as their siblings. Even more rarely are siblings in the same program and major at the exact same time. TAI students and sisters Jessica and Tiffany Giraudon share this experience.

Tiffany and Jessica outside Dallas Hall.

With only a one-year difference in age, Jessica and Tiffany were admitted to the program at the exact same time. The only difference is that Jessica is specializing in Strategic Brand Management while her younger sister Tiffany is on the Creative track.

“Jessica and I have always been competitive but in the best way possible,” Tiffany said. “We don’t want to beat each other as much as we want to push the other to perform at their fullest potential. Having classes together has definitely fostered our competitive side, but also fostered a want to help and see the other succeed. Jessica and I have always had different habits when it comes to school and how we like to get things done so it has been nice to see the way we have evolved and worked together through group projects and various courses.”

The Strategic Brand Management and Creative tracks have very different style classes and subject matter. The Creative track has very hands-on courses that have student constantly producing ads, logos, and other relevant design work. The Strategic Brand Management track focuses more on the account side of advertising, including strategic planning, business development, and brand management. Because of the differences in tracks, Jessica and Tiffany have grown to appreciate the work each other does.

“It wasn’t until I took the Creative Production class that I realized how much time, dedication and skill it takes to produce high quality creative work,” Jessica said. “I view my work in brand management and planning as the precursor to strong creative work. Our job is to provide consumer insight and direction so that the creatives can develop ways to engage consumers by creating an actual ad.”

While many of the classes they take differ because of their specializations, they have taken many of the general core advertising courses together. This has allowed them to grow their relationship in a new way.

“It was always a relief to have a sister in class for multiple reasons,” Tiffany said. “I always had an automatic group partner I knew would pull their weight, I always had a buddy to sit by in class, and I always had someone who understood the work I was doing and could push me to do my best work. It has definitely made the program enjoyable and allowed me to get to know my sister in a new, academic setting.”

Both sisters agree that having a sibling in their same program influenced their experiences for the better.

“Having Tiffany in the advertising program enhanced my experience in the program,” Jessica said. “It equipped me with a better understanding of and appreciation for other disciplines within advertising. It’s interesting to hear her talk about what she’s learning in her classes and impressive to see the work she’s producing.”

TAI Student Eric Sedeno Shares Experience Interning with Photomadic

Many students have a specific idea in their head about what type of company they want to work for. Usually this is a well-known, popular company that students idolize. However, these students often don’t realize that smaller, less well-known companies can provide an equally wonderful, if not even more hands-on experience. TAI student Eric Sedeno is interning this semester as the Jr. Design Intern with Photomadic, a small photo solutions and event marketing company in Dallas.

TAI student Eric Sedeno

Sedeno is an Advertising major on the Creative track with a minor in Graphic Design. He has had a lot of past experience with graphic design, which helped him get the job.

“I actually did not apply to this internship,” Sedeno said. “My boss found my LinkedIn profile and thought that my work was great and sent me an email about their company and what they were about. I visited their office and enjoyed how young and energetic the office was and decided to accept their job offer.”

The atmosphere and culture at the Photomadic office has provided Sedeno with many great memories already.

“One day after work we went to Sandbar [Cantina and Grill] to celebrate [a colleague] Dave’s birthday,” Sedeno said. “We played volleyball and bonded for about 2 hours and it was a great day. The other night we shot a promo video at a brewery in Dallas and everyone had a great time. It was fun to see everyone get even more comfortable and I felt like I was a part of the office crew.”

Many of the skills that Sedeno has learned in his graphic design and creative advertising courses have come in handy during his internship. He has learned many new skills as well.

Sedeno with his boss at Photomadic.

“Although I had a lot of design experience before my class, Intro to Graphic Design has really taught me about how to apply design principles and organize my projects better,” Sedeno said. “It’s really nice to take the design rules I am learning in class and applying then almost directly to what I am doing at my internship. [My internship] has expanded my knowledge of Photoshop tremendously and they have given me time to learn more Adobe programs, which is something I never thought I would have the chance to do.”

After graduation, Sedeno hopes to have a career as an Art Director in the advertising industry. His work experience and school training should help him to achieve this goal.

“My career is going to be as an Art Director in the Advertising industry so having any extra design experience is great,” Sedeno said. “I love being able to expand my knowledge on the programs that I will be using for the rest of my career. I even have my boss as a resource for how I should make my website look and what people in the design side of the world expect things to look like and what matters when they want to hire you.”

Although this was not a typical internship experience, from the application process to the job, Sedeno has had an incredible experience so far.

“I was very skeptical about taking this internship because I had never been approached about working in a place that I had never heard about,” Sedeno said. “But I took a chance, and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me. I have learned a lot and built some great relationships. I have grown a lot as a designer and I am able to make money while gaining all these experiences. I can’t wait to see what else I gain from the rest of these experiences.”

TAI Hosts Portfolio Night for Creative Advertising Students

Attendees at the event.

Wednesday, December 7, TAI hosted a Portfolio Night & Exhibition to display the work of creative advertising majors in both Concepting and Advanced Portfolio classes. The event was held in SMU’s Owen Arts Center and was attended by over 100 people. The night started off with an opening reception and exhibition viewing followed by a portfolio review.

During the portfolio review, DFW-area industry professionals from over 15 agencies reviewed the students’ creative work. Industry reviewers at the event included Amanda Fowler, The Richards Group; Randall Kenworthy, TM; Gus Granger, 70kft; Jason Shipp, Moroch; Kevin Sutton, Moroch; Matt Lindner, Moroch; Zack Ward, Johnson & Sekin; Kent Johnson, Johnson & Sekin; David Wilgus, The Launch Agency; Anna Lee Doughtie, TracyLocke; Arturo Lee, Dieste; Jose Benitez, Dieste; Raul Mendez, Dieste; Greg Hunter, Firehouse; Michelle Sensale, The Richards Group; Abraham Campillo, The Richards Group; Rob Wilson, Illustrator / Designer; Alan Lidji, Lidji Design Office; Keisha Whaley, LDWWgroup; Jim Sykora, Willow St. Agency; Larry Johannes, Willow St. Agency; Mallory Massa, 3 Headed Monster; Blake Cleavenger, 3 Headed Monster; Travis Hanson, 3 Headed Monster; Ken Koester, KoesterDesign; Ky Lewis, Infinite Agency; Jordan Spencer, Infinite Agency.

Some of the work featured at the event.

“The most common thing I heard from our reviewers over the course of the night was that the work was really strong and only seemed to be getting better and better,” TAI Lecturer and Creative Professor Mark Allen said. “After seeing the work in the exhibition and the portfolio review, I had several agencies ask for recommendations for internships and full-time creative positions. My favorite thing about the whole event is getting to watch the faces of my students light up as they finally get to see their work displayed in an art gallery full of creative professionals who are visibly impressed with what’s on the wall—this is the moment when they understand why I push them so hard; why all the late nights and the seemingly endless rounds of changes are worth it.”

Several of the reviewers were also SMU and TAI alums, which provides students with a familiar perspective and encouragement about where they could be in the future. It also serves as a special experience for the alums themselves.

“Getting a chance to sit on the other side of the SMU portfolio review was quite an experience,” TAI alum and Art Director at Dieste Arturo Lee (MA ’14) said. “Seems like it was only yesterday I was having my book evaluated. The only thing that has changed since then is the level of talent, which [has] gone up exponentially. Can’t wait to see what next semester’s students are able to come up with.”

At the end of the night, Stan Richards Professor in Creative Advertising, Willie Baronet, and Mark Allen presented awards to students who had particularly positive reviews and creative work. The student awards include:

Best Concept – Tiffany Giraudon & Caroline Moss, Bumble

Best Art Direction – Helen Rieger & Tiffany Giraudon, Hypnotic Donuts (campaign) and Morgan Hoff & Caroline Moss, Converse Chuck II Poster (single)

Best Copywriting – Nicki Fletcher & Jennifer Nelson, Lotrimin

Best Graphic Design (TIE) – Sam Butz (Cookie Cottage, Zero Gravity and personal branding projects) and Tanner Thompson (Hotel California and NASA Interplanetary Missions posters)

Best Video/Commercial – Tanner Thompson & Sofie Rosell, Anonymous

Best Digital/Non-traditional – Laura Walsh & Christina Skertchly, 1-800-GOT-JUNK App

Best Overall – Tanner Thompson & Morgan Hoff, Dallas Grilled Cheese, Co.

Students Morgan Hoff and Tanner Thompson with their awards.

“It was really rewarding to see all of the student’s hard work being shown off at Portfolio Night,” TAI creative advertising student Morgan Hoff said. “I couldn’t believe how many people came to see our work! It was also a great way to show my friends and family what I’m passionate about. The feedback I received from industry professionals was really valuable too, because it helps me improve my work and helps me understand what agencies are looking for when they are reviewing portfolios. Overall, it was a really exciting event.”

TAI Professor Willie Baronet’s Documentary “Signs of Humanity” Showing in Two Film Festivals

Some of the many homeless signs collected by Professor Baronet
Some of the many homeless signs collected by Professor Baronet

TAI Creative Advertising Professor Willie Baronet has been purchasing and collecting homeless signs from people across the country since 1993. Over the last twenty-three years he has collected over 1,000 signs. For years, Professor Baronet has displayed these homeless signs in exhibits all across the country in his art project “WE ARE ALL HOMELESS.” This past April, his project was turned into a documentary following Professor Baronet’s 31-day cross-country trip buying homeless signs in 24 cities.

The documentary, “Signs of Humanity,” was released in April, and has since been accepted into several film festivals across the country, including the 2016 Dallas International Film Festival and the Chain Film Festival. The film will be playing at the UNAFF 2016 International Documentary Film Festival in San Francisco on Thursday, October 27, and the Unspoken Human Rights Film Festival in Utica, New York on Friday, October 28.

Professor Baronet interviewing for "Signs of Humanity"
One of the interviews from “Signs of Humanity”

Although Professor Baronet has been collecting signs for over twenty years, this was the first time he had done something so concentrated.

“[The documentary] was the first time I did such in depth interviews with folks on the street,” Professor Baronet said. “And the media attention from the trip helped to make it clear how many people struggle with what to do when they see someone with a sign, and often have mixed feelings about what to do. I began to realize this project helped some people voice those concerns and have conversations they might not otherwise have.”

“Signs of Humanity” has given Professor Baronet an amazing platform to voice the issue of homelessness and find a way to help. In making the film, Professor Baronet and the other filmmakers partnered with many organizations that help homeless people.

Help USA sponsored the exhibit in New York at the end of the documentary,” Professor Baronet said. “They also sponsored exhibits at both political conventions this summer in Cleveland and Philly. Maria Cuomo Cole, the chairman of Help USA, is also an activist and filmmaker and has been a big supporter of this project. The Bridge has also been a big supporter, and I also spoke at their annual fundraiser in 2015. They helped sponsor events around our premiere at the Dallas International Film Festival as well. I’ve also partnered with Stewpot and the Housing Crisis Center on projects in the past. All of these organizations are doing great work for the homeless.”

Although Professor Baronet didn’t document many of his early encounters purchasing homeless signs, he remembers quite a few people that have stuck out to him over the years.

Michael from Omaha and Professor Baronet taking a selfie
Michael from Omaha and Professor Baronet taking a selfie

“There was a woman who sold me a sign that her late husband had made,” Professor Baronet said. “There was a man in Austin who wanted to talk about art and his relationship with his father. Michael in Omaha was a veteran missing one leg, who I had a powerful connection to. Cheryl in Detroit is the only person so happy that I was buying her sign that she reached in the car and hugged my neck. Elli in Baltimore was only 17; she was Romanian and spoke five languages, so full of promise and doing what she could to take care of her family.”

One person in particular Professor Baronet has kept in contact with is a man named Eddie who he met in Philadelphia.

“Eddie had a sign that said ‘What if God occasionally visits Earth disguised as a homeless person panhandling to see how charitable we are. Completely hypothetical of course.’” Professor Baronet said. “Eddie and I have become friends, and I’ve reconnected with him twice in Philly. He is a former heroin addict, and now is working and sponsoring others in AA. He and I spoke together on a panel at the opening of a ‘WE ARE ALL HOMELESS’ exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania in September of 2016.”

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-9-33-21-pm
One of the women featured in “Signs of Humanity”

Over his years of collecting homeless signs, Professor Baronet has gained a new perspective on the meaning of “home.”

“I’ve gotten a deeper understanding about what ‘home’ means, to me and to others,” Professor Baronet said. “I’ve learned that we all share many of the pains and privileges of the human experience. Holding a sign on the street is simply asking for help, something I’ve had to do many times in the course of my life. And I’m lucky to have friends and family as a safety net when I need something.”

Professor Baronet hopes his documentary can take away some of the preconceived notions surrounding the homeless.

“It can be easy to put people in boxes based on judgments we may make,” Professor Baronet said. “Even waving and smiling and seeing the humanity in each other can change the dynamic between the housed and those on the streets.”

TAI Student Samantha Butz Shares Experience Interning with Weller Media Agency in NYC

Many people in the advertising industry will never experience being a part of creating the new culture at a brand new agency or location. But this summer, TAI Creative student Samantha Butz had this opportunity while interning for Weller Media Agency at their new office in New York City.

One of the walls inside the New York office at Weller Media Agency.
One of the walls inside the New York office at Weller Media Agency.

Weller Media Agency is a digital creative agency headquartered in London that focuses on “connecting brands, talent and audiences”. A year ago, they crossed the pond and opened a new office in New York City (NYC). The opportunity to work alongside major musicians and record labels while simultaneously building and agency created a unique experience for Butz.

“I initially contacted the London office because my other advertising friend had interned with them through SMU the previous summer,” Butz said. “[But] since I couldn’t get a work visa, they offered me a position at their NYC office.”

Butz was hired as a creative intern, and worked with the digital team on different musician’s collateral. Her clients included BØRNS, Zella Day, Vevo, and several other artists.

“The days would fluctuate depending on what was happening in the client’s lives,” Butz said, “so, if one musician was planning on releasing a single, we would focus on that client for the majority of the day to create content for them. Content could be anything from a promotional clip of their music video, a gif from a picture of them, or a poster design from a concert picture. My favorite memory was when my design was chosen for BØRNS’ social media campaign. It was crazy to see my designs on his Facebook page!”

Because the NYC office is so new, there were usually only six people working there on a given day. But this provided Butz the unique opportunity to work directly with the Digital Creative Designer, Senior Digital Strategist, and Head of Digital Marketing and Communications. She also got to help out the London office, working with the Senior Designer and Director of Creative Services in the UK.

Butz enjoying New York City.
Butz enjoying New York City.

“This internship was a great experience for me because it gave me an opportunity to explore a different segment of the industry,” Butz said. “Almost all of my projects were digitally driven which is something I hadn’t had a lot of previous experience with. The internship affirmed that I am interested in a creative career with clients that I’m passionate about.”

Throughout her internship, Butz worked directly on many client projects. She learned a lot about working with various types of clients, how a small but growing agency operates, and how to apply skills she’s developed through her advertising classes.

“I learned a lot of technical skills while also learning a lot about client-designer relationships,” Butz said. “Since a lot of our clients were musicians, they were very particular about all aspects of their band or identity. I had to learn how to absorb a brand’s aesthetic in my designs yet produce new and creative content. The creative skills [I learned in my advertising classes], ideation, brainstorming, concepting, and executing, all came into play during my internship.”

Butz in the Ice Cream Museum in New York.
Butz in the Ice Cream Museum in New York.

Butz also gained valuable life experience, learning what it’s like to live in a big city by herself for an extended period of time.

“More than anything, I learned a ton by just living in New York City by myself for a summer!” Butz said. “It’s a totally different lifestyle than in Dallas, or any other place I’ve visited, and I think it’s a great learning experience for anyone. One of my favorite experiences of the summer was being able to visit the Museum of Ice Cream, the art project that was open for a month. Something I loved about NY was the spontaneity and the ideas there; there are so many people with so many different and amazing ideas, you’re constantly seeing or learning something new every day.”