Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Dana Hoeck. Photography for the series is by award-winning Cade Martin, wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.

Dana, please provide us a short bio.

I grew up in Knoxville, TN, where I gained an affinity for the color orange—Pantone 144 if we’re being specific. College took me to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I fell in love with all things Carolina blue and developed an eternal hatred for everything Duke. Two-plus years in Washington, D.C., working as a graphic designer at Levine & Associates ignited my love of the creative industry. Failing to maintain sanity on the Metro during the summer tourist season pushed me south to Richmond, VA. After spending 14 years as a Senior Art Director at Elevation, I decided to be my own boss. Now, I’m the principal, art director and wearer of all hats at DCH Design. Also, it’s pronounced “heck.”

Are you involved in any other organizations?

I volunteer at St. Andrew’s School, a private Episcopal school that provides an amazing education to children from families with limited resources. I’m a lunch buddy to two sassy third-grade girls, who never cease to amaze and entertain me with their insights. They remind me life isn’t all about work, politics or hating your old coworker for constantly beating you in Fantasy Football.

What is the things you are most proud of?

I’m most proud of the fact I started my own business without getting committed to a psych ward…yet. The creative industry seems to force you down a few cliched routes—letting other people’s opinions kill your confidence or becoming an untethered egomaniac being common outcomes. I always resented struggling with the former, but after some soul-searching – and a lot of wine – I realized fear of the unknown can be the best creative partner. Yes, that’s a cheesy quote I have written on a Post-it by my desk, but it helped me understand that anything worth it is scary at first.  

Who are your personal role models?

From a personal perspective, I’d say…spoiler alert!… my parents. I know, very original, but they truly made me who I am. My father, the linear-thinking engineer, gave me an obsession for logic, organization and details. His influence helped me find the balance needed to turn my love of art into a career. My mother—hands down the most selfless human being on the planet—taught me the importance of being kind. Seriously, guys, don’t be an asshole. 

From a professional perspective, Barbara Levine—the founder of Levine & Associates and my first boss—was the best mentor a young person in this business could have.

Did Barbara Levine offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

Barbara saw something in me that made my post-college resume seem less meager and threw me in the deep end of learning how to make creativity as a business work. She showed me the importance of understanding the big picture of every project, not just one’s specific role.  She set me up for growth, something you see less and less of from management these days. Under her, I got a taste of it all—design, project management, print production, client wrangling, you name it. I don’t think I would have had the courage to start my own business without that foundational knowledge.

What professional advice do you have for others?

Be true to yourself, never stop learning and do work that both you and your clients can be proud of. 

What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?

My musical taste is all over the map, but I have no shame admitting I love Taylor Swift. However, I balance with Jason Isbell, pre-2012 Kanye, Cake, Grace Potter, The Lumineers and Vampire Weekend.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

Stella’s in Richmond. Authentic Greek food with a super sweet atmosphere. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a mile away from my house.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I was the restaurant critic for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 2004 to 2014. Because I started before social media was really a thing, I had the pleasure of remaining anonymous for most of my tenure (or so I think). If I hated your favorite restaurant, I’m sorry, but if one of my articles steered you toward a new favorite, you’re welcome. Just don’t ask me where to go for your [insert festivity here]. I’m tired of that.

About The Author

The only child of a university art professor and freethinker mother, Cade Martin grew up surrounded by shapes and images. His love of art grew out of summer vacations filled with trips to galleries, museums and art studios. At home he often found himself around the dinner table with an eclectic cast of characters – sculptors, writers and painters. They paraded through his childhood, shaping his art foundation and forming his appreciation for the candid beauty found in people from all walks of life. Cade’s been chasing characters ever since. He seeks out their stories-told through the architecture of their faces or the costumes they wear-whether he’s on a commercial production or setting up an Avedon-like photo booth at Comic Con. They are the heroes in his pictures. His thirst for capturing adventures took its hold while shooting stills on movie sets and then as a photographer for National Geographic covering the railways of India. And it is that sense of adventure that Cade brings to his productions elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary with a cinematic touch. It’s not just a picture. He’s committed to the experience, building beautiful environments and, sometimes for his portraits, simply building trust. A talented storyteller, Cade splits his time between the East and West Coasts creating images for editorial, advertising, fashion, and lifestyle clients

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