The Creative Circus

The Creative Circus
The Creative Circus
Established 1995
Type Higher Education
Location United States Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Website Creative Circus Home

The Creative Circus is an accredited, portfolio-building educational program for Creative Advertising (Copywriting and Art Direction), Interactive Development, Design and Photography. Students learn the elements of concept, strategy, craft and execution through an intensive two-year curriculum that leaves them ready for a professional career.

The Creative Circus was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1995 by Norm Grey.




The copywriter is a conceptual wizard, insightful strategist, and colorful storyteller. They share responsibility with an Art Director for the ideas and execution behind creative advertising. Great copywriters tap into a variety of emotions, voices, and styles in order to effectively communicate a client’s message to different audiences.

At The Creative Circus, the copywriting curriculum is based on real world problems and practices. Coursework is broken down into three basic areas of study: strategy, concept and execution. To get a job, a copywriter must show proficiency in all three, moving comfortably between traditional and digital spaces. The fruits of this program are gathered, edited and polished to form the student’s portfolio.

Initial classes focus on the fundamentals of creativity, communication and computer skills- in both design and radio production. Once these have been established, the copywriting student is ready to apply these in concepting classes which serve as the core of the curriculum. Students are paired with an art director to work on a wide variety of speculative real-world assignments. When the team determines a sound strategy and a unique concept, creativity begins. Each week their ideas are presented to industry professionals who critique their work, dispensing direction with dashes of inspiration.

To graduate from The Creative Circus, a copywriting student must show a high degree of proficiency in strategic thinking, conceptual interpretation, and creative execution. The work in a student’s final portfolio must showcase a range of creative solutions, audiences, types of media and voices. Graduating students are also expected to create various vehicles for presenting and promoting their work comprising a personal identity package, resume, mini-books, and a web site.

Art Direction

In advertising, the idea is king. But if it doesn’t look great, no one will notice it. Art direction students work with copywriters, photographers and designers to develop print ads, digital messages, ambient concepts, and integrated brand communications for speculative real-world assignments. Art Direction students are required to master the fundamental skills essential for visual communication including typography, color theory, image creation design principles, and professional software such as Adobe Creative Suite.


Graphic Design is, at its essence, visual communication. Without great design, every web site, package, logo, street sign and object will go unnoticed or be ridiculed, which is why designers hold a very important role in all sectors of life. Design students create logos, packaging, brochures, and web interfaces.

The Design curriculum at The Creative Circus prepares students by providing the creative principles and methods for solving real business problems. It begins with foundation level courses in typography, production, color theory, and digital design programs. Later, students learn how to determine a visual voice and appropriate form – print collateral, stationery system, posters, annual report, capability brochure, catalog, publication, packaging, signage, web site – for learning how to best connect a brand with its audience. Because most classes are taught by working professionals, student work is judged by real-world standards of success regarding deadlines, aesthetics, and concepts.

Interactive Development

Interactive Developers are part scientist, part inventor. They bring ideas to life through a passion for technology, coding, organization, communication and creativity.They speak in code and write in languages most of us will never see or hear.

Creative Circus Lion created in 2010.
The Creative Circus Lion poster commemorating the 15th anniversary of the school

A presentation layer developer must understand the constraints of digital media. First year students aggressively expand competencies in all areas of coding and development. They learn critical scripting and programming languages along with experimental applications to develop an organic understanding of how best to turn design into reality. Versatility in all the engaging applications across relevant mediums is fundamental. In the second year, students work on projects developed in conjunction with copywriters, art directors, designers and photographers.

Required Competencies:

  • Ability to create engaging applications across all relevant mediums.
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Version control
  • Unit-testing
  • Reverse engineering
  • Platform agnostic development on OSX, Windows, and Linux
  • Quality execution of code
  • Communication skills
  • De-coupled and agile coding techniques
  • Patterns based development
  • Creative collaboration
  • Invention and creation
  • Ability to code by deadline
  • Ability to bring designs into reality


To be successful, a commercial photographer must have a firm grasp of technical craft but also be able to think conceptually and execute with aplomb. In two years at the Creative Circus, image students go from student photographers to artists-for-hire. They learn the necessary skills of lighting, composition, bellows extension compensation and digital retouching. They also learn to collaborate with writers, art directors and designers as they create conceptual, powerfully strategic pieces of art that work as hard in their fellow students’ portfolios as the photographers did to create them.

Classes in studio and location lighting expose students to daylight, tungsten, quartz and electronic flash options. Additionally, understanding additive and subtractive lighting tools, light modifiers, and grip gear are essential. By using lighting and studio techniques from other classes, students capture images either as an original digital file or scan film which then allows them to work in Photoshop, the industry standard, to craft a finished image.


  • The Creative Circus was founded in 1995 by Norm Grey & Co.
  • In September, 2002 the school was acquired by the Delta Career Education Corporation.
  • In 2009 a complete Interactive Development curriculum was added.
  • in 2010 The Creative Circus celebrated its fifteenth year running.


National Advisory Board

The role of the Nation Advisory Board is to ensure The Creative Circus maintains its accreditation and courses reflect industry trends. The members of the board are:

  • Suellen Schlievert, AKQA, Creative Director
  • Tim Guy, AKQA, Creative Director
  • David Baldwin, Baldwin &, Executive Creative Director/Owner
  • Rob Brinson, Brinson Studios, Photographer/Owner
  • Kara Taylor, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Director of Creative Recruitment
  • Ron Huey, CSE Group, Executive Creative Director
  • Deanne McLean, Deanne McLean & Co., President/Talent Search
  • Paul Stechschulte, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Creative Director
  • Paul Keister, Goodness Mfg., Partner/Creative Director
  • Matt Rollins, Iconologic, Creative Director
  • Carol Vick, Bynum Kelliher & Vick, President/Co-founder of Circus
  • Susan Treacy, Leo Burnett Worldwide (USA), Creative Director
  • Jim Mountjoy, Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy, Sr. VP/Creative Director
  • Jannie Gerds, Matheson Gerds, Creative Director
  • Bryan Jessee, McGarrah Jessee, President/Creative Director
  • David Kampa, McGarrah Jessee, Design Director
  • Dave Holloway, McGarrah Jessee , Creative Director
  • Eddie Snyder, Peter Mayer, Executive Creative Director
  • Mark Laughlin, R/GA, Creative Director
  • Russ Quackenbush, Russ Quackenbush, Photographer
  • Steve Mykolyn, Taxi, Executive Creative Director


The Creative Circus is fully accredited as a post-secondary occupational institution by the Council of Occupational Education (C.O.E.), a national accrediting agency. In addition to ensuring that courses meet proper state regulations, accreditation allows students to be eligible for Title IV federal financial aid.


Graduates have access to the school’s alumni listings and agency contacts; they are invited to portfolio reviews and receive direct assistance from the Director of Career Services in finding a job. Many agencies consistently use the resources of the Career Services Department to find new potential employees.

Summer 2010

Art Direction




Fall 2010

Art Direction



Speaker Forums

By utilizing the school’s far-reaching network of professionals in the industry, The Creative Circus is able to host forums on a biweekly basis throughout the quarter. The speakers range from junior-level creatives to founding partners, and encompass all disciplines. The forum consists of an hour-long speech/lecture/story/advice session with a presentation featuring the speaker’s work, followed by a Q+A.

Speakers usually follow their forum with a guest spot on Dan Balser’s “Don’t Get Me Started” podcast.


“Don't Get Me Started” is a bi-weekly podcast by Advertising Department Head and freelance Creative Director Dan Balser, started in 2007. Each episode features a different industry professional — from recent Creative Circus graduates to advertising legends. Through wit, reflection, insight, motivation, self-deprecation and humor the conversations weave advertising insights with life experiences to lend inspiration for anyone involved in advertising.

Episode List

  • Episode 106: David Lubars, CCO of BBDO North America
  • Episode 105: Mike Smith and Greg Hahn of BBDO
  • Episode 104: Susan Corbo, CD at BBH in NYC
  • Episode 103: BBDO ACDs Rick Williams and Marcel Yunes
  • Episode 102: Rob Strasberg, CCO of Doner
  • Episode 101: Fabio Costa of The Martin Agency
  • Episode 100: Lisa Balser
  • Episode 99: David Haan
  • Episode 98: Ty Wong
  • Episode 97: Mike Byrne
  • Episode 96: Lauren Spoto, New York Copywriter
  • Episode 95: Steve Tornello
  • Episode 94: Michael Ash
  • Episode 93: Brittany Poole with Todd Grinham of CP+B
  • Episode 92: Jeff Weston, CD at R/GA in NYC
  • Episode 91: Kara Taylor, Recruiter at CP+B
  • Episode 90: David Baldwin
  • Episode 89: Elizabeth Stephens of Digitas
  • Episode 88 David Perez of Leo Burnett
  • Episode 87: Matt Moore of Wieden+Kennedy
  • Episode 86: Mike Geiger of Goody, Silverstein & Partners
  • Episode 85: Marques Gartrell, Take 2
  • Episode 84: A third show with Andy Pearson
  • Episode 83: Margaret Johnson
  • Episode 82: Gina Fortunato of MTV
  • Episode 81: Craig Markus, AD/ECD/Friend
  • Episode 80: Jeff Griffith
  • Episode 79: Nick Law of R/GA
  • Episode 78: Jesse Juriga of Droga5
  • Episode 77: Matt McCain of WongDoody
  • Episode 15: Marc Gallucci of Fort Franklin
  • Episode 76: Erik Proulx
  • Episode 75: Neville Shah
  • Episode 74: Oo! A Thai copywriter!
  • Episode 73: Carol Formisano
  • Episode 72: Mike Schatz
  • Episode 71: kHyal™ and Karl Heine of Creative Placement in CT
  • Episode 70: Steve Mykolyn, CCO of Taxi
  • Episode 69: Shawn Webster, Ad Biz Headhunter
  • Episode 68: Andy Pearson of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky
  • Episode 67: Jason Apaliski of Pereira & O’Dell
  • Episode 66: Hellerstein
  • Episode 65: Bryan Condra, Designer
  • Episode 64: John Boone of Boone Oakley
  • Episode 63: Norm Grey
  • Episode 62: Two Writers On Their Way
  • Episode 61: Steve Sandstrom of Sandstrom Design
  • Episode 60: Andy Corbett. On the Mic, Off the Cuff.
  • Episode 59: Mountjoy 2: The Wisdom of Jim
  • Episode 58: Doug Menuez, Superstar Photographer
  • Episode 57: Rob Lambrechts of Pereira & O’Dell
  • Episode 56: The One Club’s Kevin Swanepoel
  • Episode 55: Dylan Lee, Copywriter, W+K
  • Episode 54: Nineteen Responses to the Same Question
  • Episode 53: This is Now. This is Paul Stechschulte.
  • Episode 52: Krichmar
  • Episode 51: Dan with Dan. As in Wieden.
  • Episode 50: That’s Right. Fifty.
  • Episode 49: Michael Franzini, Creative Force
  • Episode 48: Amir does a 180.
  • Episode 47: Cue Code! Quick!
  • Episode 46: Andy Pearson got me started.
  • Episode 45: The Very First English Episode
  • Episode 44: A former student gets a gold star.
  • Episode 43: Wisdom and Perspective from Jim Mountjoy
  • Episode 42: It’s never too early to talk careers.
  • Episode 41: It’s not just podcasting. It’s podcasting with UPS.
  • Episode 40: The Return of Andy Corbett
  • Episode 39: A Bit of Boulder Brilliance
  • Episode 38: Aw, shoot.
  • Episode 37: Life in the Bigs
  • Episode 36: Half an hour with Luke Sullivan
  • Episode 35: Weapons for the Job Hunt
  • Episode 34: Two Dudes from Anomaly
  • Episode 33: Let’s podcast.
  • Episode 32: Think – and use a Sharpie – more.
  • Episode 31: The interwebs are here to stay.
  • Episode 30.1: An Important Message
  • Episode 30: Be true to yourself.
  • Episode 29: 2008 One Show Recap
  • Episode 28: It’s better just outside the comfort zone.
  • Episode 27: More Than Just Pretty Pictures
  • Episode 26: One Year and Counting
  • Episode 25: Writing beer jokes. It’s good work if you can get it.
  • Episode 24: Two writers, fifteen years later.
  • Episode 23: Ladies and gentlemen, ladies.
  • Episode 22: Clients have voices, too.
  • Episode 21: Digitally created, specially for you.
  • Episode 20: Mindless Palaver
  • Episode 19: Careers are winding roads, indeed.
  • Episode 18: An attempt to define design
  • Episode 17: A Reunion of Sorts
  • Episode 16: The Rare Audio Blog
  • Episode 15: Let’s start an agency.
  • Episode 14: Layoffs!
  • Episode 13: Ron Huey
  • Episode 12: An iChat with Danielle Trivisonno
  • Episode 11: Rants
  • Episode 10: Dave Holloway with Heddy Lunenfeld
  • Episode 9: Matt Rollins and Ron Moore
  • Episode 8: Justin Bajan and Katie Pace
  • Episode 7: John Athorn
  • Episode 6: D’Arcy O’Neill and Jordan Kramer
  • Episode 5: David Baldwin
  • Episode 4: Todd Goodale and Jim Basirico
  • Episode 3: Eddie Snyder
  • Episode 2: Part 2 of Jonathan and Mike
  • Episode 1: Jonathan Balser and Mike Bevil

Student life

The curriculum is notorious for demanding most of the day, every day. Therefore, life outside of school is short and segmented. Since there are usually no Friday classes, students have been known to visit Moe’s & Joe’s on Thursday nights.

A quarterly party is thrown by the students, and not endorsed by the school, called The Baddies. The exact history remains a mystery, but it started as a celebration of the worst work from the current quarter. It is a standing tradition that takes place at Famous Pub on the night of The Student Show (AKA The Normy's), two Fridays prior to panel.

Panel is a twenty-minute presentation delivered by all students (with the exception of those graduating) to a combination of three faculty members and/or professionals. The student shows his best work from throughout the quarter and panelists critique.

Ten days prior to the first day of panel, the school enters Twenty-Four Hour Period. The school remains open to students twenty-four hours a day for its facilities while classes are still held regularly through the last week.


External links

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Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

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