• Posted on April 22, 2013 by cmykuser

    The name Dan Balser has appeared in nearly every issue of CMYK magazine over the past decade, listed in the credits beside the award-winning creative that appears inside this magazine’s Top 100 New Creatives Showcase. Not as a copywriter, although he has been one for over 10 years now, but as “instructor” to some of the smartest and most talented young minds in advertising. As head of the advertising department at The Creative Circus in Atlanta, Mr. Balser has developed a gargantuan list of budding copywriters and art directors he has helped to prepare for this business. Obviously, CMYK was curious to know what it is that makes his students so special. What follows are the personality characteristics, Dan’s own Top 7, of the common traits of a job-worthy young creative.

    First, let’s make one thing clear: Ad school is not like regular school. As a student in a portfolio program like The Creative Circus’s, you’re not just doing two more years of classes and going to parties. You are starting your career and going to parties. So the decisions you make, and the commitment you demonstrate, will reverberate for decades. Our school—more a subset of the advertising/design industry than academia—requires dedication, focus, and professionalism. And success requires even more.

    In my decade of teaching hundreds of incredibly bright, talented, inspired, and inspiring people, I have noticed seven traits that many of them possess. I’m sure there are dozens more, but I was given a word count.

    1) CURIOSITY. I often wonder whether people value curiosity as much as they should.

    Nobel laureate Isidor Rabi famously attributed his becoming a scientist (rather than a doctor or lawyer, like most other immigrant Jews) to the way his mother greeted him after school. While most Jewish mothers asked their children, “Did you learn anything today?” Rabi’s mother asked him, “Did you ask any good questions today?”

    If you’re a person who has the aching need to learn why something is how it is and what makes people do what they do, you’re a step ahead of those who blindly accept the world around them or ignore their own curiosity.

    [Shameless Plug Alert!] If you want to hear an example of my occasionally debilitating curiosity, listen to the first seven minutes of Episode 42 of my podcast. You can find it at balserville.com.

    2) RESOURCEFULNESS. Quick: I need a short headline for a CMYK article about the value of resourcefulness.

    The best students find a way to get it done. A few years ago at The Creative Circus, there was an art direction student who wanted to do some additional projects with writers outside of class. Occasionally, students will come to department heads to ask for help finding partners. That’s okay. But this student took it into his own hands. He created a screen image that mimicked a desktop with a warning/crash icon. He placed it, full screen, onto the computers in the lab. It berated writers’ lack of computer skills in a humorous way. It created buzz and got him some work.

    Never wonder how you’ll get something done. Dream big, and then figure it out.

    3) TALENT. Cruelly, it’s unteachable. Fortunately, it can be applied pretty much anywhere.

    To a creative person, every problem, invitation, email, and tweet is an opportunity. When I was a junior copywriter, I got a call to send out my portfolio for a job. In the mid ’90s, our books were laminated samples. So when I discovered a typo in one ad in a print campaign, I had a choice. I could (1) take out one of the three ads, leaving it a two-piece campaign; (2) take out the whole campaign (but that campaign had already gotten me a job offer); or (3) hope nobody noticed a missing two-letter word.

    Obviously, all three of these options were unacceptable. I was never a good enough art director to completely re-do that third ad. I was, however, good enough with page-design software to create a full-page coupon ad with the headline: FIND THE TYPO, WIN A PIZZA. I designed the page, wrote some copy, printed it, and dropped it into the case. It may have been the best idea in my book, because it solved an actual problem with my only real resource: talent.

    4) MATURITY, a sense of responsibility, life experience. Yep, real grown-up stuff.

    Many of the best students, year after year, are those who’ve had the distinct displeasure of having a lousy, grinding, brain-numbing career first. They inherently know that if you’re creating a portfolio to land a job as a creative person, nobody can do the work for you.

    When a student comes into a graduate ad program right out of college, they’re eager, but they sometimes lack world-view, professional dedication, and drive. Twenty-two-year-olds occasionally treat ad school like two more years of college. But it’s not. Young parents and former retail managers, lawyers, salesmen, and Marines get that. I’ve seen at least one of each, and they’re now all working in the country’s best agencies.

    Know this: You will not get a medal for trying. You will get a W-4 and an employee handbook for being good.

    5) RESPECTFULNESS. What goes around absolutely comes around. Respectfulness is career insurance.

    Ask anyone in this business, and they’ll tell you: It’s not a matter of whether you’ll ever see that partner, boss, junior, or account person again in your career, it’s a matter of when. Never burn bridges. Be there for your partners. Treat instructors with respect. Treat students in earlier quarters with respect. Ask how you can help. Show deference. Don’t be a pushover, but as the famous quote says, “Be nice to people on your way up. You’ll meet ’em on your way down.”

    It’s no coincidence that the best portfolios belong to people with whom other students are vying to collaborate.

    6) FEARLESSNESS. (This article was, very recently, a blank page.)

    Two years of school is not a long time. Dive in and take risks. Now. At The Creative Circus, we work very hard at building an environment where it feels safe to be an idiot. Dan Wieden once said he walks into work stupid every day. That’s a good way to be. Thinking correctly or safely is, ironically, the most dangerous habit a creative can have.

    A writer in a headlines class once brought classmates to tears with headlines for 1-800-FLOWERS. Coming off a recent breakup, he avoided student clichés (what I call “studentia”) by channeling his heart directly into his writing. Never be afraid to expose your fears and hang-ups. Be a goofball. And do it from your heart.

    7) FORTITUDE. The best way to make it in advertising is to have the fortitude to actually make the advertising.

    Decide whether your piece is worth keeping, not whether the idea is worth making.

    Re-read that line.

    Do it. Make it. Then figure out if it goes online, into your portfolio, or into the trash. The worst thing that can happen if an execution falls flat is that you will have learned something. Oh, and this is important: By finishing things, you have options. And having options is the whole point of hard work.

    There are millions of reasons why not to do something. Ignore ’em all. Execute, don’t kill.

    A last word … or five.

    In addition to the traits above, I have a few more pieces of advice for anyone starting out in an ad program or an ad or design career.

    Take advantage of teachers. Seek out their opinions on layout, copy, concept, and strategy. When asked, most creatives have opinions. But sometimes a teacher may not be looking at the same elements you are.

    The most successful students are not always the most talented, but they often have the most stuff. I sometimes say, “Don’t work harder, work more.” Quantity very often will lead to quality.

    Write shorter emails.

    Don’t get hung up on media, apps, experiences, games, social, or environmental. Work on your craft. If you’re a writer, write a lot. If you’re a designer or art director, learn to kern. Design a lot.

    And finally, have fun. Very soon, you’ll get to think for a living. It’s a privilege. Be grateful.

    *Featured in CMYK 54 Winter Edition. Purchase Here.

    Posted in CMYK Magazine

  • Posted on April 17, 2013 by cmykuser

    We were amused by redheaded eight-year-old smoking a bowl in the back of the bus, so we had a conversation with the man behind the camera. William Perls is a photographer currently based out of San Francisco and an Alumni of the Academy Art University. William's is a two-time Top New Creatives winner with award-winning images published in CMYK Vol. 51 (winter 2011) and CMYK Vol. 52 (spring 2012), here’s what he had to say:

    First of all how are you doing? What’s new and exciting?

    No complaints here.  I'm currently working on a solo exhibition called "We are Animals" for my international debut at BOX 32 in Berlin, Germany. As well as producing a slew of imagery and video work for my commercial clientele. Life appears to be getting exponentially busier & I couldn't be more grateful, I am living my dream.

    How did you begin as an artist, were you always a photographer?

    I've always found ways to make things, whether it be drawing, painting, ceramics, graphics, and of course photography, art has always been a prominent facet of my life. My pop put a Canon F-1 in my hand at the young age 7 but it wasn't until I was 19 that I realized the importance of this object. I chose photography because it embodies everything I enjoy; being creative, being physical, working with people, and traveling.

    Do you agree with the statement that an artist's medium sort of  “chooses them”?

    Yes, the medium chooses you. Depending on an individual’s exposure to life and ability to obtain necessary tools to present themselves into an outlet for creativity.

    What is the story behind the Humanity Project, what does it represent?

    The humanity project is intended to conceptualize synchronicity between humans. Timing is everything as they say; so much like a zipper these bodies fall into place with one another seamlessly.

    Did you really intertwine naked people in a studio?

    Yes, I did indeed shoot 12 nude oiled and tangled up people. Their faces were removed to prevent any pre-association with the models because the intent was to concentrate on the beauty of the form. The models covered a range of ethnic background as well sexual orientation. In hopes to once again to emphases the importance of Synchronicity between all of us.

    Tell us about your process.

    It all starts from the initial concept. My aesthetic choices, casting, locations & post-production are all intended to point directly at the concept. Once the concept is established a production crew is developed and mass communications undergoes to make sure all elements are in play for the shoot day. The photo shoot is easily the most fun part however, this is only the half way point for my process. I then take the imagery home, lock myself away, blast music and edit photo-shoot till the sun sneaks through my blinds only tell me that I have burned through another night.  The last part can go on for days on end.

    Why do you choose to create a surreal world through various forms of photo manipulation rather than capturing the world as it exists naturally?

    My work is entirely based upon reality except I present my imagery in a surreal world because the visual dialog can be taken to an extreme. It's my way of hitting the viewer over the head with a concept.

    I find the “Dolls” series dark and disorienting, yet witty and absurd. What’s the story behind it?

    The concept of behind the big head revolves around the ego and the way people walk around with far bigger heads then they may deserve.

    How much time to you spend conceptualizing a shot?

    It completely ranges project to project. Some images just appear in my head right away but certain ideas like the Humanity Project take months to chew on and develop.  I remember while attending university in San Francisco I would be given an assignment that would be due the following week and I would spend 4- 6 days thinking about it. Once the idea was formed it's only a matter of running through the motions to manifest it.

    I know that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Is the “Glass Houses” series intended to be a photographic illustration of this old idiom?

    Absolutely! This series was a collaboration with Erik Otto an amazingly talented installation artist who created the house we used as the set for the idiom.

    This “Color Pop” series is a lot of fun, it appears that a crowd of onlookers is examining the lives and scandals of other people. Is that the idea?

    Once again, right on! The photo shoot was actually produced and shot in front of a live audience and the driving concept is the juxtapositions of perceived reality vs the actual reality. Some people including myself like to create a world more beautiful than the truth. From an aesthetic standpoint this series is heavy drawing from the pop movement.

    How do you see your art?

    I see my art as my purpose. Without it I would be lost.

    Why does art matter?

    Art matters because it evokes new ideas and leaves behind a visual history of humanity.

    What is your advice for young artists?

    • Always ask yourself, Why?
    • Learn your History and follow the masters of art.
    • Pour your blood sweat & tears all over your work.

    What’s next?

    I'm making a movie...

    (Interview by: Jacqueline Bon)

    Posted in CMYK Magazine

  • Posted on March 7, 2013 by cmykuser

    The following artists, instructors and schools will be featured in CMYK Magazine's spring 2013 issue this April. Some are mentioned more than once to reflect the number of works to be showcased in CMYK 55. CMYK 55 will be available this April and we will keep you posted as to its arrival in print, and on App.

    Work selected was chosen by some of the hardest working and most successful creative professionals in the industry.


    "What these images have in common is a personal voice, which is what makes them strong. That includes the way one uses the technique, the composition, the colors, the empty space. The choices that are made define a point of view."

    Beth McNaire, illustrator
    Lindy Burnett, instructor
    Portfolio Center (Atlanta, GA)

    Karl Kanner, illustrator
    Mohamed Danawi, instructor
    Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)

    Sara Carr, illustrator
    Linda Warner, instructor
    Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)

    Julia Yellow, illustrator
    Julie Lieberman, instructor
    Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)

    Abby Haddican, illustrator
    Ryan Peltier, instructor
    College of Visual Arts (St. Paul, MN)

    Faith Jin, illustrator
    Gayle Donahue, instructor
    Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA)

    Marisa Passos, illustrator
    Rui Santos, instructor
    Faculdade de Belas Artes Da Universidade Do Porto (Portugal)

    Jake Burstein, illustrator
    Dick Varney, instructor
    University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS)

    Jw Pang, illustrator
    Ontario College of Art & Design (Ontario, Canada)

    Deshi Deng, illustrator
    Doug Panton, instructor
    Ontario College of Art & Design (Ontario, Canada)

    Deshi Deng, illustrator
    Shea Chang, instructor
    Ontario College of Art & Design (Ontario, Canada)

    Sarah Hart, illustrator
    Robert Lee, instructor
    The Creative Circus (Atlanta, GA)

    Michael Pitropov, illustrator
    Doug Panton, instructor
    Ontario College of Art & Design (Ontario, Canada)

    Emmily Petersen, illustrator
    The Creative Center (Omaha, NE)

    Hilda LeStrange, illustrator
    Robert Meganck, instructor
    Virginia Commonwealth University: Communication Arts (Richmond, VA)

    Esther Lui, illustrator
    Oren Sherman, instructor
    Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)

    Seokhan Jung, illustrator
    University of the Arts (London, UK)

    Steven Hughes, illustrator
    Marco Cibola, instructor
    Sheridan Institute (Ontario, Canada)

    Steven Hughes, illustrator
    Sheridan Institute (Ontario, Canada)

    Shirong Gao, illustrator
    Stephen Player, instructor
    Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA)

    Jonny Ruzzo, illustrator
    Thomas Woodruff, instructor
    School of Visual Arts (New York, NY)

    Jimena Montemayor a.k.a. Jimo, illustrator
    Carlos Llerena, instructor
    University of Miami (Miami, FL)

    Sebastien Rossouw, illustrator
    Alex Nassour, art director
    Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA)

    Sebastien Rossouw, illustrator
    Brian Rea, instructor
    Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA)

    Sebastien Rossouw, illustrator
    Jim Salvati, instructor
    Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA)

    Boyoun Kim, illustrator
    Josh Cochran, instructor
    School of Visual Arts (New York, NY)

    Stephanie Matos, illustrator
    Kam Mak, instructor
    Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, NY)

    Justin Jackson, illustrator & designer
    Margaret Reid & Awilda Dejésus, instructors
    Guilford Technical Community College (Jamestown, NC)


    "There were definitely some common themes with this year’s entries—a lot of hand-drawn
    typography and a general color mood that was predominantly desaturated, acidic, and secondary. Most of the exceptional projects were packaging based—and on the other hand, logos definitely seemed to pose a bit of a challenge. Distilling a single idea into one graphic mark is no small task and takes time to learn, so I am hopeful!"

    Nick Dunlap, designer
    Paul Sheriff, instructor
    Tyler School of Art, Temple University

    Danielle Young, designer
    Paul Sheriff, instructor
    Tyler School of Art, Temple University

    Melissa Withorn, designer
    Hank Richardson, instructor
    Portfolio Center (Atlanta, GA)

    Melissa Withorn, designer
    Brett Player, instructor
    Portfolio Center (Atlanta, GA)

    Leanne Auld, designer
    Josh Ege, instructor
    Texas A&M University (Commerce, TX)

    Abby Haddican, designer
    John DuFresne, instructor
    College of Visual Arts (St. Paul, MN)

    Benjamin Cochrane, designer
    Peter Wong, instructor
    Savannah College of Art & Design (Atlanta, GA)

    Yi Chun (Sharon) Lin, designer
    Peter Wong, instructor
    Savannah College of Art & Design (Atlanta, GA)

    Yi Chun Lin, designer
    Joseph DiGioia, instructor
    Savannah College of Art & Design (Atlanta, GA)

    Amanda Crumley, designer
    Josh Ege, instructor
    Texas A&M University (Commerce, TX)

    Emmily Petersen, designer
    Paul Dotzler, instructor
    The Creative Center (Omaha, NE)

    Allison Brunton, designer
    Dana Zurzolo, instructor
    Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)

    Allison Brunton, designer
    Elizabeth Morrow McKenzie, art director
    Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)

    Blake Miller, designer
    Jeff Davis, instructor
    Texas State University (San Marcos, TX)

    Natalie Zamora, designer
    Kathryn Schambach, photographer
    Colleen Finn, instructor
    The Creative Circus (Atlanta, GA)

    Brittany McCullers, designer
    Jason Black, ECD
    The Creative Circus (Atlanta, GA)

    Brittany McCullers, designer
    Ron Moore, instructor
    The Creative Circus (Atlanta, GA)

    Lauren Hom, designer
    Gail Anderson
    School of Visual Arts (New York, NY)

    Hector Guerra, designer
    Mark Todd, instructor
    Texas State University (San Marcos, TX)

    Simon Stipp, designer
    Josh Ege, instructor
    Texas A&M University (Commerce, TX)

    Simon Stipp, designer
    David Beck, instructor
    Texas A&M University (Commerce, TX)

    Virginia Patterson, Designer
    Ray Dugas, Instructor
    Auburn University (Auburn, AL)

    Kendall Henderson, designer
    Peter Wong, instructor
    Savannah College of Art & Design (Atlanta, GA)

    Piet Aukeman, designer
    Robert Newman, instructor
    Savannah College of Art & Design (Savannah, GA)


    "Coming up with fresh stuff now requires more than combining two things that have already been done before. It’s about select database scrapes meeting innovative digital stunts and having them be relevant enough for people to want to share with friends."

    Matei Curtasu, copywriter
    Niklas Frings-Rupp, instructor
    Miami Ad School (Hamburg, Germany)

    Joe Schoppy, copywriter
    Daniel Giachetti & John Clement, instructors
    School of Visual Arts (New York, NY)

    Natalya Yampolsky, interactive designer
    Kevin Panke, instructor
    The Creative Circus (Atlanta, GA)

    Natalie Nelson, illustrator & copywriter
    Kristen Strawinski, art director
    Robyn Cohen, instructor
    Portfolio Center (Atlanta, GA)

    Adam Tetreault, copywriter
    Zack Madrigal, art director
    Coz Cotzias & Wayne Gibson, instructors
    VCU Brandcenter (Richmond, VA)

    Madeline McDowell, copywriter
    Natalia Fredericks, art director
    University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC)

    Rebecca Diaz & Lauren Culbertson, designers
    Courtney Bante & Randy Chunga, copywriters
    Ron Moore, instructor
    The Creative Circus (Atlanta, GA)

    Scott Rogers, art director
    Thom Williams, copywriter
    Kristin Holding, instructor
    The Creative Circus (Atlanta, GA)

    Scott Rogers, art director
    Jaysn Kim, copywriter
    Peter Kehr, instructor
    The Creative Circus (Atlanta, GA)

    Lauren Hom & Jessie Gang, art directors
    Jack Mariucci, instructor
    School of Visual Arts (New York, NY)

    Jeff DeGeorgia, art director
    Tyler DeAngelo, instructor
    Miami Ad School (New York, NY)

    Christy Parrott, art director
    Jordan Spencer, copywriter
    Dev Gupta, instructor
    Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX)

    Alex Jarzemsky & Jena Jessen, art directors
    Haley Gatewood, copywriter
    Dev Gupta, instructor
    Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX)


    "I tended to gravitate toward the more traditional photos—the ones of friends, the grainy black and whites—those are the kinds of photos that typically resonate with me most—the ones where I can really feel it."

    Katelyn Hardwick, photographer
    Greg Strelecki, instructor
    Creative Circus (Atlanta, GA)

    Toapinat Satittayayadh, photographer
    John Vano, instructor
    Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA)

    Bryan Valles, photographer
    David Wasserman, instructor
    Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA)

    George Ferris, photographer
    Curtis Harris, model
    Todd Dobbs, instructor
    Art Institute (Denver, CO)

    George Ferris, photographer
    Ryder Spahr, model
    Tom Finke, instructor
    Art Institute (Denver, CO)

    Lauren Wuornos, photographer (five pieces)

    Danielle Ashley Burke, photographer
    Sarah Wallace, model
    Anju Kulkarni, instructor
    Ringling College of Art & Design (Sarasota, FL)

    Laura Hennessy, photographer (two pieces)

    Hong Gaab-Gaab, photographer
    Manolo Garcia, instructor
    Miami Ad School (San Francisco, CA)

    Kathryn Schambach, photographer
    Greg Strelecki, instructor
    The Creative Circus (Atlanta, GA)

    Juan Montenegro, photographer
    Michael West, instructor
    Portfolio Center (Atlanta, GA)

    Ariel Spaugh, photographer
    Carlo de la Sara, model
    John Vano, instructor
    Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA)

    Neil Lopez, photographer
    Michael McCabe, instructor
    Miami Ad School (New York, NY)

    Nathaniel Phillips, photographer (two pieces)
    Keith Sandman, instructor
    Pratt at Munson-Williams-Proctor (Utica, NY)

    Noah Lindelow, photographer (three pieces)

    Andrew Kerns, photographer
    Dave Neligh, instructor
    Art Institute (Denver, CO)

    Kelsey Niziolek, photographer
    Matt Curtius, instructor
    University of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA)

    Sandra Arenas, photographer
    Ginny Dixon, instructor
    Miami Ad School (Miami, FL)

    Jazzmin Windey, photographer
    Frank Varney, instructor
    The Art Institute of Colorado (Denver, CO)



    Posted in CMYK Contests

  • Posted on February 28, 2013 by cmykuser

    CMYK Discovers - Christopher Scott (CMYK 54)

    Inside CMYK Magazine #54 we feature a sampling of the portfolio of rising-star poster designer Christopher Scott. Check out CMYK 54 to see more of Christopher's work. We hope you enjoy. http://christopherscottdesigner.com/


    Christopher Scott is only 26 years old and he is already an internationally recognized social awareness poster designer. Born in Northern Ireland, he received both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Design and Communication from the University of Ulster, Magee. The concepts of his posters are paramount to the visuals, and his work communicates strong and meaningful messages with humanity at the core of his designs. Scott has been recognized by many organizations such as Good50x70, Posterfortomorrow, Design vs. Poverty, and the Adobe Design Achievement Awards, and he received a silver medal in the International Design Awards. His work has been exhibited in Italy, Peru, Korea, the United States, and many more countries worldwide, including the Louvre in Paris, France. He has been a member of multiple international juries and has collaborated with legends in the field such as Reza Abedini, Yossi Lemel, and Woody Pirtle.

    Posted in CMYK Magazine

  • Posted on December 17, 2012 by cmykuser

    CMYK 54 On-Sale Everywhere Today

    Featuring 100 award-winning works in art direction, copywriting, graphic design, illustration and photography from some of the most talented artists on the scene today. http://tinyurl.com/a98xeso

    Da Vinci Code muse acclaimed typographer John Langdon designs our cover and outlines the process behind his amazing ambigram work for the City of Philadelphia. Plus, Modern Dog’s copyright battle in their own words; instructor advice on what makes a star design student; meet the next great young designer; CMYK Facebook Poll; over 100 works in our Student and Professional Creative Showcases.

    Posted in CMYK Magazine

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