ALUMNI UPDATE: Producing the iPhone 11 Keynote Film

Interview by Professor Mark Allen

Ask any advertising student (or professional) to name who’s on their career bucket list and most likely you’ll find Apple near the top. In the same league as brands like Nike, Volkswagen and Coke, the creative heavyweight from Cupertino consistently pumps out ads that are just as revolutionary as their products.

This September, Apple released its much-anticipated iPhone 11 Pro with a seriously beefed-up camera. To show off the device’s impressive new video capabilities, Apple asked TAI alumnus, Diego Contreras (’08), to create a short film for the official worldwide launch at the most recent Apple Keynote. With an iPhone 11 Pro and an extraordinary amount of talent, this is what he produced:

The new iPhone camera is incredible, no doubt. But one thing is even clearer to me: I still don’t expect my videos to look anywhere near this good—that is, unless Diego Contreras happens to be holding my iPhone.

I’ve kept up with Diego and his career ever since he was an art direction student of mine back in 2006–08. In addition to being a unique creative talent, he’s one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. Whether it’s dinner when we find ourselves in the same city or giving advice to my advertising students via Skype, he always makes time in his busy schedule to catch up and give back.

One of my fondest memories of Diego was how he always found a way to have fun while working so hard. When he returned to our program as a senior, I asked him to lead our Fall Startup Meeting—our annual gathering of creative students after returning from summer break. Diego kicked off the event with a crazy video he shot and edited of him and a few other creative students wreaking havoc at a local grocery store on motorized carts. He even hosted a goofy awards show, featuring trophies that he made himself. He gave me the Vidal Sassoon Best Hair Award, made from an empty bottle of shampoo that he spray-painted gold. It was very much like Diego’s own version of The Dundie Awards. The point here is that Diego spent a ton of time creating a bunch of completely unnecessary content and made-up awards in order to foster a culture of fun and creativity around hard work. More than 10 years later, I still see the effects of Diego’s contribution to the culture of fun, hard work and camaraderie in our program.

Since graduating from SMU, Diego has worked for a truly impressive list of agencies. He started out as art director at Crispin, Porter + Bogusky in Boulder, then went to Anomaly in New York. He became an associate creative director at BBDO and then launched out on his own as a film and commercial director, currently working with Reset Content in LA. In light of his momentous project for Apple, I caught up with Diego and hit him with a barrage of questions:
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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 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 Laura Walsh Interns with Moroch

Walsh and other Moroch interns.

The summer of 2017 has been filled with many student accomplishments, as we’ve had several students interning at some of the top agencies locally and nationally. TAI Creative Advertising student Laura Walsh spent her summer interning with Moroch Partners at their Dallas office.

“Because Moroch is great at having creatives work on a variety of clients, the entire creative department was basically my team,” Walsh said. “I worked with a specific team depending on the client. There were times that I would concept with the Executive Creative Director and maybe two others for commercials and then there were times where we as a department concepted together. I also worked with other studio and production interns to create content for social posts.”

Walsh supported clients such as Vision Works, Taylor Hooton Foundation, Llano Wines, Teazzer’s Tea, and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen. Assisting with the conception and production of several McDonald’s commercials was especially exciting to Walsh.

Walsh covered in McDonald’s french fries for National French Fry Day.

“I learned more than I ever could have imagined,” Walsh said. “Even when there were slow days and I was working on more boring project I still felt like I was learning. I learned more about the creative process in an agency environment, that some clients are awesome and others you want to throw out the 11th floor window. As one of my Creative Directors said “Everything is a teachable moment. Even when you screw up and accidently insult the client’s eating habits during a presentation.”

One of Walsh’s favorite memories from her internship was getting covered in McDonald’s French fries for National French Fry Day. She emphasizes that one of the best things about Moroch was that there was no typical day.

“Some days were filled with kickoff meetings and brainstorm sessions and some days were slower in terms of work than others, but every day was great and something new,” Walsh said. “On any given day you could find me creating logos, ads, website content, branding collateral, content boards, presentation decks etc. I also participated in campaign concepting and brainstorm sessions as well as client photo shoots and video/commercial production.”

Moroch slide
Walsh on the Moroch slide.

A lot of the experience that Walsh has had from class and projects helped her be successful in the internship.

“I think honestly everything I’ve learned came into play at some point or another, especially with my creative core and graphic design classes,” Walsh said. “[The internship] definitely solidified a career in advertising.”

Temerlin Advertising Institute is lucky to be located in a top 5 media market, giving our students easy access to all kinds of agencies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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 Emma Clayton Shares Experience Running Fashion/Lifestyle Blog

Image from Clayton’s blog “Dash of Serendipity”

Many people aspire to start a blog, but many are unsuccessful when it comes to turning that blog into a profitable outlet. TAI student Emma Clayton has been running her own blog, Dash of Serendipity, for over five years. She has even been able to make a profit off of her blog through affiliate links and sponsors.

In the beginning, Clayton had no intention of starting a blog, but as she gained a large following she decided to start an official blog, which is a combination of fashion, beauty, and just life in general.

“Back in 2012 I created a Tumblr account, just as all my friends were,” Clayton said. “Slowly I started posting photos of my outfits and gained a pretty large following through that. Eventually I realized I wanted to have the opportunity to write more in-depth posts and moved my blog to a platform more suited for blogging. My first Tumblr username was ‘sweetest-serendipityyy,’ after the Lee DeWyze song ‘Sweet Serendipity.’ As my blog was getting bigger I realized that [it] might not be the most professional name, so I came up with ‘Dash of Serendipity.’”

While running a blog sounds like fun and games, there can be many challenges that arise along the way, especially for a student who is also managing school and extracurriculars.

Another image from “Dash of Serendipity”

“This year trying to juggle the work from my classes and everything else I’m involved in on top of my blog has been difficult,” Clayton said. “I am the Director of Communications at SMU Relay for Life and the Vice President of Public Relations in my sorority, which are both positions that demand a lot of my time. I definitely haven’t posted on my blog as frequently as I would have liked to this year, but that serves as motivation to keep trying to become a better time manager and planner.”

Clayton’s interest in fashion and running a blog led her to major in Advertising with a specialization in Digital Media Strategy and minor in Fashion Media and Graphic Design. With this combination, Clayton is learning all the right skills to continue running her blog for a long time.

“One of the reasons I was interested in pursuing the Digital Media track in Advertising was because of my blog,” Clayton said. “After a few years of having my blog I realized that I was organically teaching myself how to advertise in the digital space as I was promoting and sharing my blog content across many platforms. Now, I see myself using and solidifying the ideas and strategies I’m learning in my classes on my blog almost immediately after learning them.”

Some of the strategies Clayton is learning in her Digital Media Strategy courses include SEO and using Google Analytics to boost her blog on the web.

Image from “Dash of Serendipity”

“Most recently, I’ve been able to use a lot of the skills I learned in my Media, Metrics and Measurements class to more fully understand Google Analytics,” Clayton said. “I’ve been using Google Analytics on my blog for a few years, but was very unfamiliar with the information I was generating. Now, I feel like I have a more solid understanding of the platform.”

Clayton’s favorite part about having a blog is having a place to channel her creativity, and she hopes to continue her blog as long as she can.

“There are times where school gets more busy and difficult where I have to put my blog on the back burner,” Clayton said. “I always realize during these times that I feel like I’m lacking something. Having my blog to put all of my creative energy into is really great.”

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.”