Capitol Communicator is running a series of profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “up close and personal” profile, we feature Ephraim Schum. Photography for this 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.
Ephraim, please provide us a short bio and your current title.
I was born and raised in the D.C.-metro area and am the third generation of a family of creative professionals. As the son of a graphic designer, I learned at an early age to spill wax machines on carpet, bogart my father’s supply of Letraset, trim sunglasses from sheets of Rubylith, and shake the Lance cracker machine in hopes of getting a free snack at countless 3 a.m. press inspections. Today, I’m creative director at Schum Creative, a print and digital marketing company in the Tysons area. I work closely with individual professionals who specialize in print, web, photography, video, audio and social media to deliver clients integrated marketing communications.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I’m a member of DC Creative Guild (DCCG), which has been an excellent resource and way to connect with others — well worth the membership. I’m also active in online groups where I participate in discussions with other creative professionals. I’m looking for more ways to get involved in the community.
What is the things you are most proud of?
Aside from my children and very patient wife, I’d have to say the fact that I come from a creative family. My grandfather was a Mergenthaler Linotype operator in the U.S. Navy from 1936 to 1940 and then served 20 years at the Government Printing Office. My father, Guy Schum, is a graphic designer and gifted writer who started Schum & Associates in 1981. My older sister operates Radial Outdoor, a local outdoor media company, and my younger brother runs Milestone Advertising, a hand-painted advertising business in Brooklyn. While my younger sister was a graphic designer, she is now in physical therapy. My mother has worked as a project manager and has patiently tolerated all of our family antics.
Who were your personal role models?
It’s been a good mix of people. I’ve been surrounded by colleagues who’ve offered professional guidance, elderly neighbors who shared stories of the Great Depression, and those who fully explore their passions and talents. I’m just drawn to people who are energized and animated when they share what they do. I like people who are genuine.
Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
Each influential person in my life has demonstrated the importance of integrity, serving others with gratitude, and discovering hidden talents. Growing up, I cut grass and shoveled snow for elderly neighbors who shared interesting stories and possessed a strong work ethic. Their experiences taught the importance of going the extra mile. When you think you’ve done enough, do a bit more. Having this engrained in me has guided my approach to every project, no matter the size.
What professional advice do you have for others?
Don’t limit yourself. Take some risks and explore some of the interests that always seem to surface. There’s a reason they do. These are your deep passions and talents that are waiting to be explored and will make you feel most alive. Dig deep for information and stay educated on many things. The new knowledge you gain will stimulate your creativity and produce great things to offer the world.
What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire for business?
Comfort is key. If you aren’t comfortable in your clothes, your mind probably isn’t comfortable, and that’s bad for thinking. When selecting attire your aim shouldn’t be to offend. If you have to question if something is inappropriate, it probably is. Remember that you are representing the organization you work for. That said, I refuse to wear a necktie. Ties inhibit oxygen supply to the brain.
Where do you buy most of the business clothes you wear?
One day you may find me in a t-shirt and shorts at the local coffee shop, while other days I’m in business slacks and a pressed dress shirt. I’ll find some visually intriguing graphic tees at thrift shops and mix those with clothing from Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy. My wife works for Gap, so it’s hard to pass on the deep discount. I’m a big fan of Vans shoes. I like the fit and the way they go with anything. I’m finding that I’m dressing more and more like my 11-year-old son these days. We’re stylin’ when out riding longboards together.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I am a vocal impressionist and have developed many character voices. I’m pursuing a side career as a voice actor and aim to produce commercial and narration demos soon. I’ve also worked as a puppeteer and volunteer regularly for church puppet shows for preschool groups. Additionally, I’m a karaoke junkie and my go-to songs are Marc Cohn’s, “Walking in Memphis” and Van Halen’s, “Panama,” but I’ll sing just about anything. I’d love to turn an upcoming pitch to a potential client into a rock opera. Fingers crossed for the deal.