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.
“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.
“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.”