School Spotlight: The Creative Circus

A Student-Described 'Smartass Safe-Haven'

The Creative Circus has a near-singular focus for its students: to develop a killer portfolio that will attract a top global agency upon graduation. The Circus, as it’s known, has programs from Art Direction and Copywriting, to Design and Photography, to Interactive Design and Interactive Development all taking place in its warehouse location in downtown Atlanta.

Which makes The Creative Circus a perfect feature for our School Spotlight series, as we explore schools of its kind across the world right here on the ADC blog for ADC Education Month.

ADC: Break it down for us. Who is The Creative Circus, in so many words?

Creative Circus: Portfolios get you hired. Really good ones. That’s the name of the game with the top agencies in the world and The Circus keeps its finger on the pulse of what these agencies want and need from junior creatives.

Portfolios get you hired. Really good ones.

With over a 98% placement rate of grads into top agencies, we pride ourselves on being a top portfolio school in the world that continues to provide top creative talent. Our wacky warehouse of a school is an incubator for the passionate and driven creatives that come here to be challenged and grow like they’ve never experienced before.


ADC: Now let’s hear as much straight from a student’s mouth. What would one say?

Phil Fattore, a 6th quarter copywriter, told us this:

“You’re a smartass and you’re pretty funny. You should go to The Creative Circus and become a copywriter.” That’s what a friend told me after college. He’d heard of The Creative Circus from his step-sister, who’d heard of it herself from a friend and then ended up attending herself. My friend was right about two things: I can be a funny smartass and The Creative Circus was where I should be.

At its plainest description, The Creative Circus is an advertising portfolio school. But to me, it’s a smartass safe-haven. A place where seemingly useless brain “clutter” all of a sudden becomes your greatest asset, a place where being more “ass” can actually mean being the smartest dude in the room. A place where people with different backgrounds but similar goals get together, create insane work, and make each other laugh before becoming extremely successful at making other people laugh.

The Creative Circus means something different to everyone who’s here or has been here, and whether it’s described as an ad school, a think tank or a smart-ass safe-haven, we’re here for the same reason — to be awesome.

At its plainest description, The Creative Circus is an advertising portfolio school. But to me, it’s a smartass safe-haven.

ADC: Nice, a smartass safe-haven! All of that said, what is the core differentiator for The Creative Circus?

In the almost 20 years that The Creative Circus has been training creatives, we have been successful in creating a real and invaluable sense of community among our students and alumni.

Once you’re in The Circus family, you’re in it for life. This helps not only as grads call on us looking for junior talent, but it also opens doors for every person who finishes the program. Also, and maybe most importantly, this sense of family creates professionals who are genuinely nice people to work with. And in advertising, nice matters.

circus fascade

ADC: What would get a potential applicant into a smartass safe-haven like The Creative Circus? What’s the most outstanding application you ever received?

In the day and age of the computer, we are often bombarded with students submitting Tumblr accounts and creative blogs they’ve kept. But a few years ago a student mailed in a flat board made of black cork and had cut the word “Fresh” out in the center, and had fake grass “growing” through the word. It was refreshing and made an impression on the Admissions team.

ADC: Okay, let’s drop a couple names, starting with notable faculty.

Norm Grey, Dan Balser, Ron Moore, Sylvia Gaffney, Robert Lee of Methane Studios, Greg Strelecki and Jen Mageau.

ADC: Excellent, and who are your top alumni?

Rick Williams, CD at BBDO

Jesse Juriga, CD at Google Labs

And a current finalist on Master Chef, Elizabeth Cauvel. No, it’s not advertising, but our training has enabled her to take risks and succeed.

ADC: Lastly, please finish this sentence: tuition at The Creative Circus costs…

… $22,000 USD per year.

Learn more about The Creative Circus at, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and stay tuned for the next School Spotlight!