Free online portfolio school for Black creatives launched by Oriel Davis-Lyons and One Club

The One School will be a 16-week programme run by the Spotify creative director, who recently published a LinkedIn post lamenting the financial barriers of US portfolio schools.

21 July 2020
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3 minute read


Spotify creative director Oriel Davis-Lyons and The One Club has launched a free, 16-week online portfolio school for Black creatives called One School. The programme will be run by Davis-Lyons, and is a result of a recent LinkedIn post he published lamenting the financial barriers to most US portfolio schools for young creatives of colour. After seeing the post, One Club’s head of professional development Bob Isherwood worked with Davis-Lyons to create the programme for Black creatives working, or hoping to work, in the advertising and creative industries.

“One School will be unapologetically Black from start to finish,” the Davis-Lyons said in a statement. “The briefs will be written by Black strategists and taught by Black tutors and lecturers, and the students will be paired with Black mentors in the industry,” he said. “This isn’t about teaching Black creatives how to ‘fit in’ to a mostly white industry. It’s about helping them to build a portfolio that is both creatively excellent and 100% authentic to who they are.”

“Most of the lecturers will be speaking not just about creativity but also their own personal experience as Black creatives and passing on advice that will help a new generation,” he added.

In his LinkedIn post, Davis-Lyons said that before coming to the US he paid for his advertising training “with one part-time paycheck. Then I came to the States. Where two years of ad school costs nearly $40,000. I couldn’t believe it. Who can afford that? Who can do multiple internships in the country’s most expensive cities until they land a job? The road into this industry is one with many tolls that only the most privileged can pay. And until we remove those tolls, creative departments are going to stay looking much the same.”

“The road into this industry is one with many tolls that only the most privileged can pay.”

Oriel Davis-Lyons

Davis-Lyons said in a statement regarding One School, that a common excuse often heard from ECDs is that they only look at the work in the book. “That type of thinking ignores the systemic barriers and innate privilege of being able to pay $40,000 for two years at ad school to put a book together. One School aims to address that imbalance.”

Davis-Lyons previously held creative positions at R/GA and Droga5 in New York and Colenso BBDO in New Zealand. Spotify is principal sponsor with McCann Worldgroup, Ogilvy, R/GA and WPP also on board to underwrite ten of the 15 students’ seats so far, with remaining sponsorship spots available. Official dates for the first course in September will be announced shortly.

The course is limited to 15 students due to “the hands-on mentoring aspect,” and these students cannot previously have attended an advertising school. Applicants will instead be selected based on “raw creativity, passion and commitment” so as not to discourage those with no prior knowledge of advertising. They will be asked to submit a brief video on why they want to be a creative, provide examples of their creativity in personal or professional projects, and respond to a brief.    

The free online school will run two nights a week for 16 weeks, with students getting ten briefs over the course covering everything from OOH to data-driven storytelling. One night of the week will be devoted to guest lectures from top Black creatives, with the second being a two-to-three hour tutorial run by Davis-Lyons in which students will do a deep dive on different channels, disciplines and the creative process, and get one-on-one reviews of their work. Later weeks of the course will be devoted to portfolio building, judged by top agency professionals, with some opportunities for job placements.


Oriel Davis-Lyons

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny joined the editorial team as It’s Nice That’s first news editor in April 2016. Having studied 3D Design, she has spent over a decade working in design journalism. Contact her with news stories relating to the creative industries on

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