Q&A with Hans Schenck


Question #1: What is your profession?

I work in advertising as an art director.


Question #2: What do you do in your job on a daily basis?

Generally what I do is think up an ad, commercial or an entire campaign and then I go and I make it.


Question #3: What does your job entail overall?

I’ll make everything from videos on TikTok to full on TV commercials. There’s basically two kinds of components to the job. I’m first given a strategic brief, which broadly details the challenges and insights for the brand and its goals. Sort of like the how, what, when, where and why. Then myself, and typically a copywriter creative partner will go off and work together and try to think about the most creative ways to answer that brief.


Question #4: How long were you on The Journal staff and what were your positions?

I was on The Journal staff junior and senior year. I was a staff photographer.


Question #5: Where did you go to college and what did you major in?

I went to college for photography. I’d have to say that being on The Journal staff very much set me up for kind of what I do right now… I spent a lot of time in the darkroom. It really kind of helped me find my creative voice. I fell in love with photography. I went to school and studied photography at Columbia College in Chicago, and also went to something called a portfolio school, once I lived in New York City, called the Miami Ad School, even though it’s called Miami Ad School there’s one in New York. There I got an advertising portfolio and that’s how I got started working in advertising.


Question #6: How did being on The Journal affect your career choice?

I really enjoyed it. I was mainly there because I wanted to learn photography, but that’s not to say I didn’t like working with a journalism staff too. I really fell in love with the process of photography and I give a lot of credit to our teacher, her name was Heather Stockdale, for recognizing that working with photography was something I really loved doing. She gave me a long runway as long as I got my projects done. She allowed me to explore creativity and work in the darkroom as often as I could. I’ve told her this personally, now that we’re adults, that her as the teacher really helped me kind of become the creative professional I am now, and I owe a lot of credit to her and the journalism department.


Question #7: What did your experience on The Journal mean to you?

It’s kind of just that I really grew as a creative person. It helped me find my voice creatively. Of course, I liked working with the whole staff and learning about photojournalism. Just being a member of a team that produced the newspaper was something I really liked doing. It was my favorite part of being in high school and totally influenced what I do now.


Question #8: Did being on The Journal allow you to become “the kid who marches to the beat of his own drum?”

Totally. I was really able to be myself there. I didn’t love school, grade school, middle school or high school. It’s just not really my thing. The journalism department was the one place I felt like I could totally be myself. I felt like others and the teachers understood who I was. It was really the best part of Southport for me. I could go on and on about that stuff… The year I graduated, when I was a senior, they did a little writeup about me because I lived with my band in downtown Indianapolis my senior year and I was the TA for Miss Stockdell. I spent most of my senior year in the darkroom… I definitely made my own path.


Question #9: How did you go from being a photographer or someone who loves photography in high school to pursuing a career in advertising?

It was a weirdly natural progression. I feel like I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of different experiences and live in different places but just to be as concise as possible. I was working in Chicago for a famously eccentric shoe designer and doing photographic and creative projects for him and his brand. It was mostly just for my own portfolio and for fun. But after that shoot… the work I was doing sort of passed along an opportunity for me to work for him in New York City. So I moved to New York and started working in that capacity. I picked up some freelance photography jobs, ended up working briefly as a real estate agent, just to make ends meet, and trying to figure out how I could support myself and live the type of lifestyle that I wanted to live. But also, working in a creative field was really important to me and learned about advertising creative jobs, and thought this might be a good way to earn a living and be creative at the same time. That’s when I decided to go back to school for a bit. I went to Miami Art School, started building my portfolio and a very well known ad agency in New York City called BBDO caught whiff of a project I did and liked it and offered me an internship and the rest is history. It is an absolutely terrific lifestyle and career. I would be more than happy to talk to anyone interested in doing this as a job if they’d like to. I get to travel all over the place. My experiences and cities I’ve shot commercials in, editing in Los Angeles and working with celebrities. It’s really a fun way to earn a living. I would say if anybody would be interested in it, I’d be happy to talk to them.


Question #10: What are your favorite memories from The Journal?

I think just being there and walking into that classroom. I always kind of was able to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that I was around people that weren’t as judgmental. I just felt like everybody on staff, we were all kind of open, accepting and creative. I just felt like I was amongst my friends. Every day it was just a relief to be there. It was so much more fun than being in math class. Sorry math teachers. So I’m not sure if I have a specific moment in time, but I just loved experimenting with the process in the darkroom, just having fun, working on deadlines and being with people that I felt like were similar to me, my mindset that is.


Question #11: Is The Journal the origin of the way you spell your name, H4N5?

It didn’t really stem from The Journal, but the last few years I was at Southport, I started spelling my name that way. It’s just always stuck. It’s my Instagram handle, it’s the name of the business that I own now and it’s just like a fun kind of creative thing. That’s how my name is spelled in the spread in my senior yearbook too.