Students Explore Creative Opportunities through Collaborative Spaces

Passionate Copywriting Senior Stephanie Stapert Teams Up with Professor Lou Schiavone to Establish Center for Creative Collaboration

Inspiring collaboration in advertising, the Michigan State University Creative Center was created by students for students. 

Stated more specifically by founder and copywriting senior Stephanie Stapert, the center is: “a safe space for students to collaborate, inspire each other and produce even better work for both class and their portfolios.” The Creative Center pairs art directors with copywriters to develop innovative content and advertisements. 

ComArtSci’s Advertising + Public Relations Department is unique in the fact that unlike many schools, it separates the Advertising major into two tracks: advertising management and advertising creative. Within the creative major lies two directions: art direction and copywriting. The end goal for all advertising creative students is to graduate from ComArtSci with an impressive portfolio. However, because copywriting and art direction classes are completely separated, senior copywriting student Stephanie Stapert saw a disconnect between the two. 

Art directors create strong visuals. Copywriters create compelling copy. However, a great advertisement demands both. That led to the creation of the center. 

AD+PR Professor Lou Schiavone agrees there’s a gap in the advertising process for students who choose to study in one advertising track.

“There is no other mechanism for art directors and writers to work together. This impacts the seniors putting portfolios together to render complete pieces,” said Schiavone. “Until we can reevaluate the curriculum, the creative center is a solution. It brings an integration to the two directions. Until then, we’ll have diminished portfolios.” 

Schiavone teaches a campaign class which integrates advertising creative and management students, who create an ad campaign from start to finish. During some semesters, the class lacks creative students to help develop campaigns. Now, with the establishment of the Creative Center, students have a place to collaborate with art directors and writers who are on call. 

“The Creative Center was Stephanie’s brainchild,” said Schiavone. “I agreed to be the faculty point person. Stephanie did the leg work and got the people together. We’re thankful for Department Chair Dr. Teresa Martin for helping make the center happen.”

In an interview with Stapert, she shared how the Creative Center came to life from ideation to implementation. The idea originated in retired Professor of Practice Karl Gude’s creative thinking class. Stapert was frustrated after receiving an assignment that there wasn’t a resource available where other creatives could collaborate, bounce ideas off one another, and validate ideas.  In an advanced copywriting class, Schiavone spoke on the importance of writers needing artists to bring work to life, and artists needing writers to bring breadth to a campaign. Upon hearing this, Stapert recalled her original idea and discussed the idea of a creative help resource with Schiavone. 

Stapert wrote out a business proposal and pitched the Creative Center to Teresa Mastin, chair of the AD+ PR Department. Mastin loved the pitch, and soon the center was put in motion. Alexandrea Thurbis Stanley’s project management class set Stapert up for success by aiding her in the creation of a full project plan for the Creative Center. The Creative Center was missing an integral piece — creative consultants. Schiavone asked his fellow professors for recommendations of talented students who would be a good fit to consult for the center. Stapert also recommended fellow classmates she had worked with on projects before.

While still new, the Creative Center has already begun fulfilling its purpose to provide students with a harmonious, integrative experience. 

“I love that I was able to create something so quickly that helps my fellow classmates. I’m also the type of person who loves to solve problems and make things easier for both myself and those around me,” said Stapert. 

Stapert continues to motivate others, speaking on the challenge of beginning the Creative Center and how it’s pushed her professionally. 

“As the founder and project manager of the Creative Center, it is both exciting and nerve-racking. This is a brand new program, there aren’t set guidelines on how to do this, and because it’s on a trial basis there is pressure to do a good job. It’s helped me grow in my project management skills through the experience of building and running the Creative Center, as well as balancing it with my other job and classwork.” 

The Creative Center has changed the way current and future advertising students could work on their projects. 

Shortly after it launched, four art directors and four writers began rotating shifts at the Creative Center. The center set up open hours, inviting students to stop by room 308 in ComArtSci or book appointments by contacting representatives directly. The Creative Center also maintains an Instagram and it has launched a new website. 

Visit the website

By Brooke Fredrickson