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Ad School Profile: Creative Circus

Posted on January 26, 2006 and read 4,949 times

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ignaciocreditpic 156x156 Ad School Profile: Creative CircusIgnacio Oreamuno

A circus can best be described as a bunch of distinct loonies and animals that travel like gypsies around the world, performing and dazzling us with their incredible talents and feats. Whilst they unfortunately do not have any dancing elephants, bearded ladies, or tigers jumping through fire hoops at the Creative Circus in Atlanta, their tagline is appropriately: “A school where weird kids become employable”.

And employable they become. Just walk in the ad-crammed hallways and you’ll recognize dozens of pieces we could all recognize from Communication Arts, the Clios, Cannes and the One Show. As one of the oldest advertising educational institutions in the US, the alumni pool is pretty impressive. Crispin Porter and TBWA are just some of the gazillion agencies where Creative Circus alumni have ended up.

Let’s get down to it. Ad schools are very competitive these days, and even though they all produce very cool promotional brochures, books and Web sites, it all boils down to one question: What do I get there that I can’t get anywhere else? I asked Carol Vick the Associate Director at Creative Circus what made the school so special and she told me it was “personal mentoring”.

Students are not just encouraged to create good work, but also to change positively and learn the social skills that are crucial for a career in advertising.

If I were to be asked what’s the one competitive advantage Creative Circus has over other top ad schools, I’d say it was the network. Glancing at the list of alumni it’s very clear that the Circus has been at it longer than most schools and it can easily make a call to get students in for interviews at basically any agency in the US. And isn’t getting a job in advertising all about a decent book and networking?

What Atlanta as a city has to offer I cannot say, since I was only there for two days but I can tell you they have a pretty big airport, very nice malls, vulgarly huge steaks and a cool southern accent. They also have two of the world’s largest companies, Coca Cola and Home Depot in town, but unfortunately the “ad scene” in Atlanta is not that hot.

The big bulk of agencies in Atlanta mainly do local work. And while the ad scene is not up to par with New York or Chicago you shouldn’t take this to heart since local agencies have made extremely good work over the years. Quickly surfing the sites of agencies such as Fitzco, BBDO and Grey I quickly found some amazing work that I recognized from past annuals.

The Creative Circus doesn’t disappoint when you enter its doors. It looks just like a circus! As you enter you are greeted by several student awards to your right and a wall of inspiring work from all its four branches of art direction, copywriting, graphic design and photography.

The very colorful hallways are designed to look like a little town with benches and fountains, which is very quaint and nice. Suffering from creative block? Just plop yourself in the sofa bed in the hallway and take a breather. You can’t turn anywhere without facing inspiring, amazing work found on the multicolored walls of the Circus.

Many of the classrooms overlook trees and foliage and are filled with young creatives and their PowerBooks enthusiastically working on their projects. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the students I met looked very happy.

The auditorium is pretty nice and filled with more inspiring student work from floor to ceiling.

One thing that separates Creative Circus from other ad schools is that the branches they offer complement each other. Choose from either the art director or copywriter branches or go to the photography or graphic design side. Either way, I’m sure there is a lot of internal synergy when all these students work together. If you are an art director for example, you could very well use the photo studio that the school has to create your ads.

Plan on touring 24 months with this Circus before you graduate. Like they say, could be more, could be less, it all depends on you. And you don’t need to think of it as a full time 2-year stint. The Circus considers itself a “finishing school” so depending on the state of your portfolio (if you happen to have one) you might decide to attend in the evenings only for a quarter or two, just to polish it up a bit.

When you finish at the Creative Circus you don’t get a degree but you do get a certificate and like they rightly claim on their brochures, it’s not like any degree makes a difference in the world of advertising. It’s all about your book and your ads, not the little paper that you get in the end, which no creative director will ever ask or care for. What they don’t offer in degrees they offer in support and in help with your post-school employment pitch.

If you are thinking of attending the Circus I’d highly recommend visiting the school beforehand and spending a couple of days in Atlanta. It won’t take long for you to make up your mind on whether the Creative Circus is the school for you.




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