Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature John Harold. 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.
John, please provide us with a short bio.
I started out in Boston in the publishing world becoming Art Director for UltraSport Magazine, a national sports, nutrition, and fashion magazine, at the age of 22. I then went into the big-budget world of advertising working on accounts such as Reebok, Honeywell and the Digital Equipment Company. My journey took me to Maryland as Creative Director for two advertising agencies before starting my own agency in Ellicott City named Ground Zero Creative where I focused on zero-based marketing for my clients. After 11 years of running my own shop and making zero-based profit, I decided to go in-house at Ratner Companies in Vienna, VA. As the Creative Director at Ratner Companies, I create and direct multi-media campaigns for Hair Cuttery, Bubbles – The Color Salon, Salon Cielo, Salon Plaza and our own private-label hair care brand Cibu.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
To quote Groucho Marx: “I don’t care to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”
What are the things you are most proud of?
From the beginning, my wife Stacy and I felt that the most important thing we would ever do with our lives would be to raise really great kids. I believe we did that. Our four children are very fair and understanding people that have grown into wonderful human beings. Nothing could ever top that.
Who are your personal role models?
I owe my career to Howie Green who took me from an inner city school and introduced me graphic design. He’s been a lifelong mentor and friend. Even though I’ve never met them I also consider John Lennon and Groucho Marx role models. Just read the lyrics to Imagine and watch any Marx Brothers movie from the 1930’s and you might reconsider your role models too. Honorable mentions go to Bobby Orr and Milton Glaser.
Did any role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
In one of our many conversations Howie explained the Beatles song Getting Better to me. Paul wrote, “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better. A little better all the time.” John’s contribution was the line “It can’t get no worse.” That one line changed the whole meaning of the song. Gave it an edge. It’s a reminder that a small change can make a big difference and not to take yourself too seriously.
What professional advice do you have for others?
I used to worry about constantly coming up with the creative solutions to problems. Until someone told me that if you just ask questions and understand the problem the answer will come to you. Simple. Always ask questions, be inquisitive and keep learning.
What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?
Usually it’s U2, Beatles, Queen, Pink Floyd and The Cure. Recently it’s been Ariana Grande and Wiz Khalifa, thanks to my kids.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
El Azteca in Clarksville, Maryland. It was founded about 25 years ago by Gilberto Cortes who came to the U.S. with about $15 in his pocket and, now more than two decades later, it continues to be family owned and operated.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I started out as a writer, illustrator and painter. I still sketch out ideas on a clipboard with plain white paper. Now, as Creative Director I also photograph most of the fashion shoots for Ratner Companies. Being able to express myself creatively in so many forms is one of the main reasons I love this industry so much.