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Designing the Perfect Career: Academy Alum Shares Secret to Success

Kevin Leung never saw himself as an artist – that is, until he came to study at Academy of Art University. After winning prestigious awards as a student at the Academy, Kevin is now on his way to a highly successful career in advertising. The Academy of Art University alumnus began his education by learning the business aspect of advertising, but found that he liked artistic side advertising.

As a Mass Communications undergraduate student at University of California, Berkeley, Kevin had taken some classes in advertising theory and fine art that piqued his interest. A Bay Area native, he was familiar with the Academy of Art University’s renowned School of Advertising and decided to pursue an MFA in Advertising, concentrating in Art Direction.

“Being surrounded by wildly creative people is inspiring,” he said. “Meeting the diverse and international group of students and faculty was certainly a highlight of my time at the Academy.”

The most important thing Kevin learned at the Academy was the importance of entering art shows, contests, and exhibitions. With a clever and humorous campaign consisting of a “Mexican ninja” concept for Fritos Corn chips, Kevin snagged a prestigious Clio Award.

The Clio Awards are given to reward creative excellence in advertising and design. It is the largest awards program of its kind. Kevin was shocked when he found out he won, describing the experience as “surreal.”

Along with another Academy student, he won the Fuze Multimedia Mixmaster award in a contest for art and design students sponsored by Fuze beverage company. Fuze challenged students to come up with a non-traditional advertising approach targeted to the college-age crowd. Kevin and his partner, Jessica Mayer, came up with the concept of “Fuzed Friends.” Using clay animation and high quality production, their unique campaign impressed the judges.

The Academy of Art University instructors’ wealth of industry knowledge also made a large impact on Kevin.

“A former Academy alum herself, Amanda DeHaan taught the importance and power of copywriting to a room full of art directors who would have otherwise loved to make portfolios full of wordless print ads,” he said.


Since graduating in Spring 2007, Kevin has landed a job at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. Even in his new workplace, the Academy community thrives.

“There’s a group of us here that all graduated from the Academy together and we hang out and look out for each other,” he said. “I even got my interview at Goodby through a friend from the Academy.”

As for current Advertising students who would like their share of success, Kevin offers this sage advice:

“Get your name out there and always keep your portfolio fresh.  Build up the quality of your body of work, such that your portfolio only represents a portion of your ‘good’ work. That way, if someone shows interest in your work, you’ll have more great pieces to show them.”

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