RECAP: 2022 Portfolio Seminar

Portfolio Seminar Recap

This weekend, on November 19th, AAF Buffalo hosted its annual Portfolio Seminar event, where three advertising pros from the Buffalo area talked about their experience crafting, presenting, and sharing a killer portfolio. This year we were joined by Katie Hazel a Group Creative Director at Crowley Webb with over 20 years of experience in the field. Brittney Sikora, Freelance Designer & Art Director with nearly ten years of great projects under her belt, joined us as well. Last but not least, we were also joined by recent Buffalo State graduate Jennifer Leising, who’s been loving her first year of design experience at Fourth Idea. Each speaker brought unique experiences to the table and shared what’s been successful for them and what might work for students as they hunt for that first job.

From networking tips to the amount of work you should include in your portfolio to which website builder to choose tons of tips were shared during our time together. Below are some quick takeaways:

  • Quality over quantity of projects always! 
  • Push your project’s concept into different mediums uniquely instead of creating more mockups with the same graphic.
  • Pace yourself and celebrate the small victories. Portfolios aren’t created overnight.
  • Get out there! Networking is challenging, but coming to AAF events and making small steps to put yourself out there can have a huge benefit when you take the next step in your career. 
  • Submit your work to the American Advertising Awards and the Don Nichols Scholarship Competition. Agencies keep their eyes on this (Katie included).
  • Be yourself. Create projects you’re passionate about and let that authentic love for your work come through when sharing it. This makes it easy to find a work environment that you truly feel comfortable in.

The tips in the bullets above represent a fraction of what Katie, Brittney, and Jennifer covered over the weekend, so mark your calendars for next November when three more Buffalo creatives will talk about what they think makes a killer portfolio. 


ADWEEK DAY 4: Culture + Typography

We had a full house for our final AdWeek event: CULTURE+TYPOGRAPHY by Nikki Villagomez! Attendees were engaged and entertained by Nikki’s long-standing blog that got her to where she is today and her analysis of urban typography across the United States.

What does she think of Buffalo? Well, our manhole covers are trash compared to Japan. The good news is that she was blown away by our vibrant murals and marquees. Her historical analysis of neon motel signs on Niagara Falls Boulevard amused the crowd and her Buffalo research paid off as she concluded with a “Go Bills!”

The healthy Q&A session was a sign of solid audience engagement and her book, CULTURE+TYPOGRAPHY, sold out! Great success! Check out for more information.

We hope to see you next year at any (or all) of our AdWeek events. 


ADWEEK DAY 3: Speed Networking

On Wednesday, October 5th, we brought our annual Speed Networking back for an appearance on the Ad Week event schedule! Understanding that most industries are still facing challenges with hiring and staffing—freelancers and professionals came to Jack Rabbit on Elmwood Avenue to get a drink while pursuing a series of one-on-one conversations.

The event was ideal for businesses and agencies wishing to grow their shortlist of freelancers. It was a fantastic opportunity for freelancers to network with businesses that may be looking for fresh talent for their team or forthcoming project. 

Although networking has been complex in recent years, we saw long-lasting connections established in various fields from the chats and banter that persisted after the signal to rotate.

Are you disappointed that you couldn’t attend Speed Networking 2022? Keep a watch out and bring your business cards to the 2023 Ad Week. 

We appreciate everyone who came, and we hope to see you again next year!


ADWEEK DAY 2: Ad’s Best Friend

Woof Woof! AdWeek day two at Barkology was a heckin’ good time! Doggo’s and dog friends did some productive networking. Where are the best bones? What’s the best way to leverage social media to attract new clients? Attendees had great discussions and great fun.

The dogs had little to say about the future of advertising in the metaverse, but they really got a workout! We’ve established that they’re more brawn than brains. Attendees enjoyed some cold beers on a crisp beautiful buffalo fall evening. Who’s dog was the best? Rude question! They were all amazing… but look at that doodle in the back left!



AAF Buffalo kicked off AdWeek with a bang! Lauren Molenda of Riveter hosted us at their gorgeous new office to learn about freelancing! How much money do freelancers make? What’s the best way to get new clients? How do I know if I’m cut out for freelancing? Lauren and her panel had a packed house, with close to 40 attendees, on the edges of their seats. 

Lauren Molenda, Co-Owner of Riveter

Our guests were delighted with drinks and apps prior to the event and ended the evening with quick tours of Riveter’s spaces. Who from this crowd is going to take the leap into the freelance world?!



On September 15th, 2022, AAF Buffalo hosted our annual Agency Tour event. This event focused on giving current college students the opportunity to visit local ad agencies in the downtown Buffalo area. Ranging from some of the biggest agencies to one most concise studios in the area, students got the chance to see a variety of environments, to help them make an informed decision on where they’d like to land in the future.

Our first stop downtown was at the Sweeney Building to visit Crowley Webb. Starting downstairs at the agency’s bar (crazy right?), Chief Creative Officer Matt Low and VP Creative Director Andalyn Courtney walked us through a thorough presentation of the ins-and-outs of the agency’s structure, process and some exciting plans for the future. We then made our way upstairs to peek into offices and cubicles, meeting team members that ranged from data analysts to videographers all the way to graphic designers.

After we saw how “hard work works hard” at Crowley Webb, we made our way to Fountain Plaza, where we met up with Senior Vice President, Group Creative Director Michael Baron, Senior Art Director Amanda Widzinski and Copywriter Emmy Kolbe at Mower, where we were served some pizza and a ton of great info. Michael walked us through another in-depth presentation on Mower’s philosophy, structure and work. We even got to see an exclusive rough cut of a video from an upcoming campaign. Outside of learning just about Mower, students learned about the advertising industry as a whole from Michael, where he shared his perspective on key things to get involved with (AAF Buffalo included), smart things to avoid and gave some things to work towards in the future.

Stuffed with pizza and info we walked a couple more more blocks to our last stop of the tour, White Bicycle, at their new home on Ellicott Street. Unlike the other agencies of the tour, which consist of teams in the hundreds, with multiple offices, sometimes in different states, White Bicycle consists of 7 killer creatives that pack an equally as large punch as the other guys. Here, students spoke with self-professed “Design Monger” and Partner Kyle Morrissey and Owner Brian Grunert about the differences between what “agencies” and “studios” look like. Students got to see their unique process, their love for print, learn some more exclusive studio news and even jumped on a call with Kyle (even if it wasn’t necessarily planned, thanks Brian).



On August 25th, AAF Buffalo hosted its annual Big Tip Off! Where WNY advertising and marketing pros come together to enjoy good drinks, partake in friendly rivalries and most importantly raise money for the AAF Buffalo Scholarship Fund.

This year’s event was held at Sky Bar, one of Buffalo’s long-time favorite rooftop bars. The main event of the night was the competition between 9 of Buffalo’s top agencies for most tips. Each agency elected a “celebrity bartender” to represent them and compete in the showdown. Our bartenders provided fun themes, signature drinks and a lot of fun.

By the end of the night we raised $4,231! It will all go toward the AAF Buffalo scholarship fund that supports the local advertising community by awarding local high school and college students annually.

So, who won the all important bragging rights?

  • Crowley Webb came in 1st place
  • Mower came in 2nd place
  • and FIFTEEN came in 3rd place

Thank you to the participating companies for lending their bartending talent for the night. And kudos to everyone who attended and donated. We’re already looking forward to next year!

  • The Martin Group
  • Crowley Webb
  • Gelia
  • Farm
  • Mower
  • Mr. Smith Agency
  • White Bicycle
  • 19 Ideas


Each and every year we extend thanks to our members and celebrate all that was accomplished. On Wednesday, July 27, we visited our (new) favorite spot, Flint Kitchen + Bar, where members were able to catch up with one another while enjoying cocktails and toasting to another successful year.

Did we mention that AAF Buffalo was also named Club of the Year for the fourth year in a row?

Thank you again to our members, we wouldn’t have been able to do this without your support and dedication to the Buffalo community.

That’s a wrap on this year! We’ll see you next time.


RECAP: Spotlight Speaker Jordan Wong

In the monotony of the everyday grind (especially post-pandemic) it can be extremely easy to feel uninspired, lost, or a little unsure of what move to make next in your career. From those starting out to those who’ve been there for a while, it’s common to question your path and lose your way towards your passion. But luckily for us, we were able to snag our personal bit of inspiration, straight in from Cleveland.

Triumph of Heaven, Earth and the Cosmos by WONGFACE (Jordan Wong) – Photo © Bob Perkoski,

On Wednesday, June 22, we had the honor of hosting Jordan Wong (WONGFACE) an artist who specializes in large scale installation pieces as a spotlight speaker at Hallwalls Cinema in downtown Buffalo. Jordan presented his journey through college and the struggle of entering the workforce – only to find that it wasn’t what he wanted or expected once he got there. After being fired from his first job, he brought us on the journey to how he made the decision to become his own boss and fight for his passion of creating his own art. Clearly, the fight was won and Jordan has since created his own personal style as an artist pulling from his culture, childhood, and experiences, that has now been showcased larger than life in multiple museums and throughout Cleveland.

Jordan’s challenges through his own career path felt very familiar and relatable to say the least, but his go-getter attitude (and fantastic visual aids) made you feel ready to go out and make a change for yourself. By the end of his talk, his lessons learned from his own journey had seemed to have inspired the audience to question their passions as well and figure out how to make them happen. (And judging by the line queuing up to see him at the end of his talk, it clearly hit home.)

The 10,000 Things art exhibition at the Akron Art Museum – Photo © Bob Perkoski,

Between the amazing space provided by Hallwalls and Jordan Wong himself, we cannot wait to see what Jordan does next and are excited to see any passions that reveal themselves after this talk from the other attendees.


RECAP: AdTrivia 2022

Did you know the NASDAQ stock symbol for SouthWest Airlines is LUV? Yeah, neither did we.

AAF Buffalo kicked-off the first yearly AdTrivia where agencies gathered at Flint Kitchen + Bar to compete and answer questions around advertising, pop culture and beyond. The eight teams definitely brought the heat, but only one team came out on top – Crowley Webb’s very own ‘The Answer Prancers’  – congrats! It’s safe to say that attendees left with a whole new bank of knowledge, enjoying an evening filled with fun facts, great food and lots of laughs.

We look forward to making this a yearly tradition, bringing advertising professionals together to let loose, network and partake in some healthy competition.

A huge thank you to everyone who attended or participated in any of this year’s events! For more info on all of our programming for the club year, check out

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