Come learn, network and build your brand in a supportive environment tailored to your needs.

Student Events

Brand Hack

At Brand Hack, professional art directors lead teams of 3-4 students to rebrand a local non-profit organization in just 3 hours! Students sign up for the event as individuals and are assigned to their team based on their year and major. On game day, each team is briefed by the client then let go to research, sketch, render and develop a pitch. Teams then present their concepts to the client and they choose their favorite idea to move forward with.

Portfolio Seminar

Creating a portfolio you can be proud of is just as hard as creating the work that’s in it. What work will resonate, how many pieces should be included and what medium you should present that work in are tough questions to answer on your own.

At our annual Portfolio Seminar, local Art Directors will be answering these questions and more to get you prepared for entering the creative job market.

Don Nichols Scholarship

Sponsored by AAF Buffalo, the Don Nichols Scholarship Competition is a student communication contest that honors the memory of Don Nichols.

Don Nichols began teaching at the Albright Art School. He founded its Graphic Design Program in 1950 and brought it to the University at Buffalo where, until his death on July 7, 1987, he served as the program’s head and an extraordinarily dedicated teacher. He educated hundreds of graphic designers, a number of whom attained national prominence. Nichols received the Osborn Award for Creative Excellence from the Art Directors/Communicators of Buffalo and the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching from UB in 1982.

Portfolio Review

Put your best pieces on display for some of the brightest pros in Western New York and get invaluable feedback to take your work to the next level.

Our Portfolio Review takes place each year on a Saturday in April. Scholarships are available to the top three portfolios selected by the Professionals that day. This is also where the Don Nichols Scholarship winner is announced!


If you’re a graphic design, communications, marketing or business student in Western New York, AAF Buffalo is an invaluable resource on your journey to landing that first job. Our student events like the Portfolio Review, Brand Hack and the American Advertising Awards give you the chance to network and get real world advice from respected pros in the area. Oh, and did we mention our numerous scholarship opportunities?

2024 Theme

Artificial intelligence has taken the world by storm and the industry of communication and design is not exempt. We’re all scrambling to get a handle on what this well mean for our skills and ultimately our jobs. Yet, the theory that this is merely a new tool in our toolbox seems to be more pervasive and reassuring. But using it correctly is the next challenge. What’s your take on AI and how it’ll shape our world in the next few years? Bring to life your thoughts and opinions in any medium you choose.

Submission Cost



The format is the contestants’ choice— an advertisement, booklet, essay, poem, illustration, poster, game, sculpture, photograph. Photographs of 3D entries will be accepted. Photographic mockups of entries should be shot against a neutral background. Typeset, calligraphic and hand-lettered reading matter are all acceptable. Writers should limit their entries to no more than 1,200 words. Multi-disciplinary efforts (i.e., writer/designer teams) are encouraged. 


1st: $400 + Gold Certificate
2nd: $250 + Silver Certificate 
3rd: $150 + Bronze Certificate 
Honorable Mention: Certificate 

Entry Submission

Submissions must be sent via email by Wednesday, April 3, 2024 to; all entries are virtual. In the entrant submission email the following information MUST be included: the entrants name, address, phone number, email, name of college or university, name of advisor and AAF Buffalo membership status. 

Winners will be announced at AAF Buffalo’s Student Portfolio Review on April 13th, 2024 at Villa Maria College from 10AM- 12:30PM and online at a later time. Details coming soon!