Still from Cup Noodles ad by student Ada Zhang
Featured Course

Bookcamp

Students bind their skillsets together and focus solely on creating and refining professional-quality pieces for their portfolio. Each assignment is catered to individual students' goals to produce new work that will strengthen and broaden their existing book. During this course, students craft print, social, stunt and experiential campaigns for products and services to rpoduce a strong, well-rounded portfolio representative of who they are.

Interview with Instructor Dennis Lee

ArtCenter: How would you describe this course to a prospective student?
Dennis Lee:
It's a portfolio boot camp to strengthen your book. To get a job in advertising, you'll sit down with a creative director and discuss your work, and if you don't feel confident, it really shows. I work with students until their portfolio accentuates both their strengths and distinct personality. There are so many ways to say the same thing in advertising, so I want each book to match the student's voice. Are you funny? Are you thoughtful? Do you care about the world? I want to emphasize those qualities to make sure the portfolio has the right personality.

The amount of portfolio-ready work I ended up with from Bookcamp was more than any other Advertising class I'd taken at ArtCenter. The best part? It was work I genuinely enjoyed making and was proud of.

Sydney HuntAdvertising

AC: How does this course get students portfolio-ready?
DL: First, we do what I call the "yes, no, maybe." I work with students to put all of their work in these three boxes and we go through all of it. I also look at what's missing from their book — is there too much print, too many stunts or not enough traditional work? We look at the breadth of work to ensure that at the end of this class, they have a well-rounded portfolio.

AC: What do you look for in a strong portfolio?
Variety, unexpectedness and perspective. Recruiters and creative directors typically hire a graduate right out of school because they're looking for someone with a fresh perspective; someone who takes chances. They want a perspective that's unexpected, and that's what I want to pull out of students.

AC: What are some of the most important concepts and ideas you hope students take away from the experience/classwork?
Confidence. More than anything, I want my students to leave this class with a book they're happy with; something that truly represents who they are. Coaching them up and getting them into that mindset will help tremendously when they're on the job hunt.

Film and Advertising alumna Sonja Johnson creates campaigns that break walls

AC: What are some of the assignments that challenge students to break new ground creatively?
DL: When creating content for their portfolio, I want students to focus on brands they really know. It's difficult to come up with ideas that are unexpected if you're working with a brand you know nothing about. For example, a recent student of mine was a hard-core gamer. I encouraged her to create something about gaming because she knew the language and the culture. She ended up crafting something that was really amazing.

AC: What were some of the most interesting/surprising ways the students responded to the challenges and assignments?
DL: In this class, I want students to take off that guardrail, to have a sense of looseness. And once they do, the work they produce is astonishing; sometimes inappropriate, which is great. A creative director will spend a few minutes going through a portfolio, so you need something that pops and takes them by surprise. I've seen some pretty shocking creative from students, and that's very exciting.

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