We’re professionals who teach from experience, not from books.
Our instructors are passionate about teaching, but their true expertise lies in practicing what they preach. Whether it’s advertising or design, they’re in the trenches every day, solving real business problems for real clients. This is a true advantage to our students because they’re gaining insights and knowledge firsthand from working pros, not to mention making invaluable contacts.
If you’re a professional interested in teaching or guest speaking, or have an idea for a new course you’d
like to teach, we would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us.
Founder and Instructor
Will is a creative director at GSD&M, an internationally recognized advertising agency in Austin, Texas.
He has created award-winning work for clients such as BMW, Southwest Airlines, Kia Motors and
Kohler. His work has been featured in numerous advertising award shows such as Cannes, One Show, Communication Arts, Graphis, Kelly Awards and The London International Automotive Awards.
Passionate about teaching and believing that there needed to be an alternative to the traditional model
of higher education, Will founded The Austin Creative Department in the summer of 2011.
He has taught and lectured at The Academy of Art in San Francisco, Art Center College of Design
in Pasadena, St. Edward’s University, The Art Institute of Austin, AIGA Austin, The School of Design and
The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas. In 2014, he edged out college professors
in and around Austin and was named the “Educator of the Year” by the Austin Advertising Federation.
In 2015, Will was nominated for the "Change Agent" Award by the AdColor Conference for his contributions in fostering diversity in advertising.
"I firmly believe that the new model of advertising/design education integrates highly motivated students, working professionals as instructors and real-world clients giving students real-world problems to solve.
We’re more of an apprenticeship by-fire than a traditional school. Learn from those who are DOING,
and DO while you learn."
Eric is a native Californian whose parents once had the chance to buy a McDonald’s franchise for just $10,000. However, opting for a simpler life, Eric’s mom and dad decided to pack up the family and move to Ponca City, Oklahoma, where they could raise their kids under the fumes of a Conoco refinery. Today, instead of enjoying a two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese trust fund, Eric is an associate creative director/copywriter at GSD&M where he spends his days waxing poetically about things like hotel amenities, high speed internet and the technological advancements in food distribution. He’s not bitter, though. (What good would that do?) After all, he’s had a pretty good run in this advertising game. For 19 years he’s worked at agencies big and small and had his work honored by some pretty prestigious folks at The One Show, The Webbys, Communication Arts, The National Addys, Graphis and more. Once on a shoot, he even got to answer Shaquille O’Neal’s cellphone. And that’s almost as good as a Big Mac fortune, right?
"I’m grateful for my college education, but if I’m honest, it didn’t teach me all that much about being an advertising creative. I owe those problem-solving skills to the professionals I encountered at my first jobs. They discussed the work with me, allowed me to look over their shoulders and helped me as I struggled to string two words together. The way I see it, Austin Creative Department is a condensed version of the first five years of my career. It’s learning by doing. And I’m proud to be able to help students learn faster and smarter."
Chris is the Founder and CEO of Gallant Branding - a branding studio in Austin, dedicated to building brands for a better world. Prior to starting Gallant, Chris was a brand strategist at BBDO New York and GSD&M, developing nationally recognized campaigns for well-respected nonprofits and Fortune 500 brands, including Lowe’s Home Improvement, Hyatt Hotels, John Deere, Ace Hardware, and AARP. In addition to writing for Entrepreneur Magazine, Chris is the author of The Practical Pocket Guide to Account Planning, which is currently being taught in advertising programs at more than 30 universities around the US.
"For many in the advertising industry, strategy is a mystery. For account managers, creatives, and even some planners. That's why I wrote a book about it and that's why I love teaching strategy. Behind some of the best creative work out there, there is definitely a method behind the madness. Great strategists are truth hunters and problem solvers. The same is true of great teachers. We make the invisible visible and in so doing, we
have the opportunity to inspire the world."
Educator, mentor and advisory designer at IBM Design, Oen has created a wide gamut of advertising,
design and packaging—all shaken and stirred with a slap of inspiration. As a creative manager, Oen
has played a large role in overseeing the entire creative process, from concepting to producing the final
creative product. He manages anything it takes to bring the client’s campaign to life—photography, design, copywriting, programming and illustration. Outside his 9-to-5, Oen has been teaching as an adjunct instructor and sharing his design experience at a variety of colleges and universities in Ohio, Kentucky
and now Texas for the past several years.
"I’m proud to work in a multidisciplinary creative practice, in which inspiration, ideas and creativity are
free to manifest themselves through different mediums. I get great joy in sharing my passion and knowledge
as a mentor/teacher to students and professionals in the creative field."
Jennette is a native Texan who found her calling as a coach and matchmaker, advocating for creative professionals since 2007. Her true passion is connecting employers to emerging talent and leading those individuals to discover meaningful opportunities. Jennette's experiences in teaching and marketing built the path for her to partner with top talent and employers in Austin.
"What it all comes down to is helping individuals understand their value and discover how to help themselves. I have the privilege of witnessing emerging professionals develop over time. I consider myself
lucky to be a part of that."
In-house design has its challenges and its opportunities; Russell has experienced both during his time
as an art director at Dell. Helping to define and govern the strategic vision of a global brand on a daily basis is a challenge that requires thoughtful and purposeful design solutions. Though the client may remain the same, the challenge, the audience and the experience are always changing in this fast-paced environment. With a solid freelance background, Russell knows that all good designers must be smart, nimble and resourceful. Outside of the daily grind, Russell shares his passion for design and mentorship to help further the careers of the next generation by reviewing student portfolios and participating in guest critiques
and discussion panels.