Category: side projects
Kelly Pratt is a recent graduate of the Chicago Portfolio School. Because she likes sandwiches as much as she likes advertising, she’s got a side project called Stately Sandwiches. Check it out. Bring your own chips.
I shortened the 45-minute presentation to about 12 minutes, so I had to cut out some of the showcase pieces.
I also had to rerecord my voice. I swear I sound much better live.
Please send any feedback on how I could improve this presentation to the comments section below.
The Maker Generation
Last week, I was able to catch up with my friend, mentor and first boss Kevin Lynch. Over lunch he said a few things worth sharing here. Paraphrasing, of course. My hands were too busy with my pulled pork sandwich to take notes.
According to Kevin, you portfolio students and recent grads are the Maker Generation. When Kevin or I were looking for our first jobs, if we wanted to pull something real together, we would have had to find a typesetter, a photographer, maybe a sound engineer. Nothing got produced that didn’t involve a team.
But today, people are producing work all the time with nothing more than a great idea and maybe a little tech shrewdness. I go to portfolio school reviews each year and more and more, there are students developing their own apps, fonts, websites, radio programs. It’s not just theory.
Kevin said this democratization of maker-iness means there’s no reason any portfolio school grad should go into a job interview where the person interviewing hasn’t already heard of them.
That’s a pretty high bar. Thing is, there are plenty of examples out there where portfolio school students (your competition) are already clearing it.
This has nothing to do with ads. But we’re always fans of side projects.
I first heard about Jon Chonko’s project, Scanwiches a few years ago. But only recently did I hear his interview on NPR’s Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal and find out that he’d turned Scanwiches into a book.
Just a nice example of a side-project that built momentum over the years.
The Creative Ham
The Creative Ham was designed by Alex, a portfolio student about to graduate from The Book Shop. High-fives to Alex.
The Gold Mine of Side Projects
The Importance of Hobbies
- It is *shareable*. You have some kind of documentation that this side-project actually existed. Even better if that documentation tells a story.
- It is somehow *relevant* to your chosen path in the ad industry. Or it’s just mind-blowingly cool and creative.
- Potential for *growth*. Nothing is better than a success story of a passion turned into a phenomenon, so the more scalable your project the better. Try to think about “what’s next” for your project so that it can grow along with you and your career.
The Bronx & Their Mariachi Side Project
As a buddy of Greg and Jim’s, I periodically pass along stuff to them I think might be relevant to Makin’ Ads. Well, this is something I shared and they encouraged me to write a post. So here goes.
This documentary, while not particularly well-made, shows a bit of what Greg and Jim seem to cover a fair amount on Makin’ Ads: Doing something completely different creatively might make you better.
It’s about a band, or more accurately, two bands. (Note: They are not everyone’s cup of tea, but the bigger point remains.) The Bronx is a hardcore-ish punk-ish rock band. Mariachi el Bronx has the same members, plus a couple more, but they operate as two different bands. And yes, they perform in mariachi garb. The two bands are remarkably different, and the members discuss in this documentary how shifting gears completely has helped revitalize the creative process. Sound familiar?
I personally need to do more of this. I’d wager it would improve my work, and if nothing else, I’d probably enjoy the process.
Backstory of how Mariachi el Bronx came about: As I understand it, someone asked for an acoustic version of one of their songs for a compilation. They decided that they didn’t like acoustic versions of hard rock songs, so they did a mariachi version instead and it snowballed from there. Pretty cool.
Art directors, designers, creative directors, copywriters, print buyers–pretty much anyone in the creative department is inundated on a daily basis by paper promo mailers from photographers, illustrators and their reps. In the age of digital, it’s a pretty antiquated way to reach people. Furthermore, all those trees could probably be put to much better use. CO2 reduction, for one. It’s not that we don’t love the samples we get–some of them are from the most talented artists in the business. It’s just that we don’t physically have place to store it all in our offices.
With that in mind, I’ve been helping a group of guys on a project that aims to chip away at this colossal waste of paper and money. We’ve created a site called first-stop.org that we hope will 1) be a good tool for creatives to search for photographers and illustrators–a kind of central directory, and 2) at least make photographers and their reps think twice about sending out paper mailers.
If you have time, please check it out. Send us feedback on the site and its functionality. What would be helpful to you? Feel free to sign up and submit work if you’re an artist. It’s completely free. And please spread the word. Thanks.