Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring an in-depth look at communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “Up Close and Personal” profile, we feature John Gundlach. Photography for the series is by 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.
John, please provide us a short bio.
I split my time between two roles at GMMB: creative director and brand strategist. I’ve been in the field for over 20 years now, offering the chance to be part of a wide range of experiences – building GMMB’s branding practice, scoping and planning strategy with clients, and working with the incredible writers, photographers, illustrators, technologists, and other creative people that make this business so fulfilling. I specialize in nonprofits and issue marketing for companies and trade associations, having developed brands and campaigns with Conservation International, Visa, American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, American Beverage Association, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the National Safety Council, Nutrition International, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I’m not much of a joiner. Not part of any clubs or professional organizations, unless there an organization for Game Of Thrones fans.
What are the things you are most proud of?
My amazing wife and kids. Wait. You probably meant work, though, right? I look back on with great pride to the campaigns I worked on with CTIA – The Wireless Association. The creative and strategic opportunities came from a very strong client relationship, which is the key to great work. The highlight of those years was a giant projection dome exhibit in Union Station. And we got to market the cutting edge technology of the wireless industry. Cool stuff.
Who are your personal role models?
One of my earliest role models was someone I never met: Bill Bernbach. He inspired me to get into advertising. I still turn back to his quotes and his agency’s work for inspiration. As for role models I knew personally, I always think back to an illustration teacher I had in art school named Pat Underdown, who knew how to draw out creativity with a combination of snarky humor and tough-love critique. She didn’t just teach illustration. She taught us how to see.
What professional advice do you have for others?
Every path into a creative business is different from the next, so if you see a job you want to attain, don’t consider just one person’s advice on how to get there. And don’t be an asshole. You’ll need strong relationships to succeed.
What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?
I’ve formally rejected cloud-based music libraries, so I’ll just point to my iTunes “recently played” list: U2, Paul Simon, Nine Inch Nails, Beethoven, BoDeans. Go figure all that out.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
A pizza place in my hometown of St. Louis called Farotto’s. Their thin-crust pizza has some kind of cosmic hold on me. I have to have it every time I visit.