Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “up close and personal” profile, we feature Allison Rinaldi. Photography for the “up close and personal” series is by Cade Martin; wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.
Allison, please provide a short bio and your current title.
I’m an art director at RP3 Agency in Bethesda. I’ve been in the Baltimore/D.C. area for about five years, but I’m originally from Wichita, Kansas, and started my career in advertising there. While I have dabbled in other industries, I’ve always come back to advertising. I like to be challenged creatively – I work on both traditional and digital projects – and I like every day at work to be different.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I’m a lifetime member of Girl Scouts. I went all the way through to earning the Gold Award and as an adult I support the Scouts. I believe in the mission of Girl Scouts and feel it’s important to encourage girls to follow their dreams. I’m also involved with the alumni group for Washington University in St. Louis where I went to undergrad. I’ve done portfolio reviews here in D.C. and participated on alumni panels. I always liked meeting professionals in the field as a student so I try to pay it forward.
What are the things you are most proud of?
Moving to D.C. is actually something I’m proud of. It’s a really different environment from where I grew up, and it took a lot of courage to leave home, move here and put myself out there professionally. The creative community in D.C. is wonderful – I think it often gets overlooked because it’s small. That’s a shame, because a lot of great work is coming out of D.C. and it’s an exciting time to be part of it. Also, this year I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru with my sister and my dad. It was a really rigorous hike – 28 miles with altitudes as high as 13,828 feet. I guess you could say I was proud to have survived that!
Who were your personal role models?
I’ve been fortunate to have a number of mentors and role models over the years. I’ve also had a lot of support from my family – my parents have always encouraged me to pursue a creative career. My grandma was a professional watercolor artist and I spent a lot of time in her studio growing up, looking at her work and also painting with her. Most of her work was landscapes of rural Kansas, and she often painted “en plein air” – painting outdoors – to capture the beautiful natural light. My first critiques were with her in her studio.
Did your role models offer you professional advice that helped you in your career?
– Don’t say “I don’t know/I can’t/I don’t have time.” Say “I’ll figure it out” and then do.
– Find someone at work whose job you aspire to do and observe how they do it.
– If you consistently show genuine interest and enthusiasm, people will eventually give you a chance to try something new.
– Make sure you’re doing work you want to put in your portfolio, at least some of the time.
– If you learn something good, pass it on.
What professional advice do you have for others?
– Don’t be afraid to go after what you want. I applied through a generic form online for my current position at RP3 because I loved the work the agency was doing, even though I didn’t know anyone who worked there. You never know!
– Everyone has something they can teach you if you’re willing to listen.
– Karma is real. It’s important to make friends in the industry.
– Learning doesn’t end in school. Everything changes fast – it’s always a good idea to take a class or go to a conference to get inspired and keep learning. I really like the classes offered at General Assembly here in D.C. at 1776 – I have met some really smart people there. The Creative Mornings lecture series are consistently great and are a good opportunity for networking. I also like the unconferences that UXCamp D.C. holds twice a year.
What’s appropriate business attire for your organization?
It depends on what we’re doing each day. In advertising, that could mean a wide range of things. Our office is casual, but we dress up for client meetings. When we’re on a photo shoot, I like to be as comfortable as possible so I can run around to help make the shots look just right. Every day is different.
Where do you buy most of the clothes you wear in business?
Lately I’ve been enjoying cozy, stylish workwear pieces by Vince and Rag & Bone. For client meetings, I like Diane von Furstenberg dresses.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I was almost held back in kindergarten because I wouldn’t leave the art table to try other classroom activities. I’m so fortunate that my full-time job is at the art table now and no one is trying to hold me back anymore.
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