Do ad schools turn out the best talent?

If you’re a student in a portfolio school, you need to watch this video on

Sorry I can’t embed it. But I’ve got to say I agree with a lot of what they say. (Craft is often neglected, junior creatives struggle to create “scaleable” work, a lot of schools turn out a vanilla product, etc.)

You should spend eight minutes watching then, then go back and reassess your book.

I’m curious to know what some of you portfolio school students think about this. Love to hear your comments.


4 thoughts on “Do ad schools turn out the best talent?

  1. Hi Greg-

    As a recently graduated ad school student, I agree with a lot of this video as well. In my time in school it was easy to see some students struggling through assignments and not grasping onto big ideas in their work, but I do not think because of that they will not become great creatives. Yes, it takes talent to be a creative, but I believe that with your motivation and enthusiasm to work on your skills, you can improve your craft and become successful in your work and the ideas you create. It's not just your raw talent – poor and also great work can be swayed based on your direction and knowledge of what you are working on, so I believe that the schools themselves factor into the work that is produced there as well. Also, I think the work that I produced in my 'traditional media' class would've been a but different if I had Susan Credle as my teacher. Heh, 🙂

    We are young, we are eager, we are learning and every time we watch a creativity roundtable we get butterflies in our stomach and misty-eyed because we want to do this.


  2. Credle was my CCO, presented to her many times. She has a point about storytelling, but the discussion totally devolved after her comment. CDs love to fantasize about some untapped genius in the comedy clubs. But if they tried to effectively manage and train their own talent half as much as they spent fantasizing about Chris Farley, it'd start to shine through much more.

    I've been in the business only a few years, so this is pretty relevant for me. The biggest wake up call for me was not the difficulty of the briefs, or the long hours, or the design or writing challenge. It was dealing with creative directors that were blindingly egocentric and disinterested in managing a successful team. It was the whole 'can't see any idea but my own' syndrome, over and over again.

    I'm sorry, but that's the biggest failing of the industry as I see it. Leadership is way too focused on what shiny brass their peers might be winning, worrying about their own fragile egos, when they should be building a team that can make creative magic together. It's not everyone, but it's pervasive.


  3. Unfortunately, creatives are often promoted to CD positions because of their creative work, which doesn't mean they'll be a good CD or leader. But there are good CD's out there, Anon. That's why it's important to know not just what agency you'll be working for, but who the CD is you'll be working with. Find the one that helps you grow and guides your creative, not just the one looking for you to execute their creative.


  4. Gabriel Garcia-Marquez is one of my favorite novelists. He's won the Nobel Prize and his work has been translated all over the world. But it would make no sense for his publisher to say, “Gabriel, you're such an amazing writer, we're going to put you in charge of 10 other novelists. You judge their work and decide if what they write is any good.” But that's exactly what we do in the creative department.

    That said, I once had a creative director whose ideas dominated the entire department. I built a good portion of my reel and my book listening to what he said and executing his ideas. And I won a lot of awards doing it. We still came up with our own ideas. But if he threw something out there, it was implied that I needed to try to bring it to life. I didn't mind because I completely trusted his judgement, and he respected my work. So it all comes down to who you work for, and how you work with them.


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