WK12 is an experimental advertising school housed inside Wieden+Kennedy's Portland office.

The school accepts 13 students over the age of 21 who spend 12 months creating advertising campaigns for local non-profits, making art, and learning how to collaborate with 12 other people.

The school had a good 10 or so year run. I believe it's currently on indefinite hiatus. I was lucky enough to be a director of the school for 3 of them.

3 years.

For 3 years I did little else professionally save for write on the Travel Oregon account.

I don't think i can possibly convey what I learned and did and taught and was taught over that period of time. But here's a quick attempt.

I was one of 3 directors. Jim Riswold was the Executive Creative Director. He's the guy who saw She's Got to Have it and looked up Spike Lee in the phone book and said, "hey, do you want to make some Michael Jordan commercials." Byron Oshiro was the managing director, cultivating client relationships and making sure work was produced.

I was equally parts creative director, overseeing work with Jim or without him when he was gone, translator, helping students to understand Jim's always wise but occasionally cryptic direction, and mentor, helping student navigate the interpersonal politics and relationships that come when 13 creative people all have to agree on and execute on one idea together. I also got to create assignments, design my own lectures, bring in guest speakers and take the students on field trips.

I helped steer 36 students through what most would describe at the most intense year of their life. I helped them create real campaigns for great non-profits like the Oregon Zoo, the NW Film Center, The Portland Children's Museum and countless others.

I loved it.

It didn't seem terribly difficult at the time.

But when I stopped running the school, and became a copywriter again my job was suddenly really easy by comparison. Partly I had learned a lot teaching advertising for three years. But even more so feeling responsible for people who are paying for the privilege of working into the night 6 or 7 days a week was an all day all the time job. Ads? I can write them by the hour.