Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Julia Sarver, Senior Designer at Dynamic Integrated Services (DIS). 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.
Julia, please provide us a short bio.
My career in D.C. began at Porter Novelli, where I interned for two summers and played first base on their softball team. After graduating from Virginia Tech, I was offered a job at Arnold D.C. as a Production Artist. I took every opportunity to express my desire to be a designer, which may or may not have included cornering Creative Directors in the kitchen. I was eventually promoted to Art Director and had the pleasure of being part of the Arnold family for almost six years.
I spent two years at Wunderman as an Art Director before moving to Merritt Group in 2013, where I worked as the Creative Director for six and a half years. At Merritt Group, I had the good fortune of building a creative team, establishing a brand, and adding almost 40 creative awards to the trophy case.
In 2019, after the birth of my son, I transitioned to freelance design to spend more time at home. I recently took on a new part time role as a Senior Designer, supporting Dynamic Integrated Services (DIS), a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I love mentoring students in any way I can. I’m an Advisory Board Member for the Communication Design department at Northern Virginia Community College and twice have been a judge for the AAF National Student Advertising Competition. I’m a member of AAF DC, and have been a speaker at AdWeek DC.
What are the things you are most proud of?
I am so proud of the designers I was blessed to mentor during my time at Merritt Group. Each of them taught me so much, and I was able to watch them grow as designers and communicators. They are all now working as leaders with their own businesses and teams.
Outside of work, I am really proud of my family. I have an amazing, supportive husband whose affinity for spreadsheets consistently impresses me. He is an incredible father and a talented musician. My five-year-old daughter is witty, a true LEGO engineer and has a fearless sense of style. My one-year-old son is the sweetest child, but also loud and determined and definitely has a future as a drummer.
Who are your personal role models?
My dad, who was also my softball coach, helped to instill a strong work ethic. He also showed me the importance of kindness, and not taking yourself too seriously.
Professionally, I’d have to say Rebecca Mabie. I’ve followed her all over D.C., at least that’s the running joke. I met her when I interned at Porter Novelli and then worked with her at Arnold and Wunderman. She never made me feel like a junior and always had time to help.
Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
My dad always told me if I wanted to be better, I would have to work at it. This has been incredibly true over the course of my career. I hope to never stop ‘working at it.’
Rebecca taught me the value of a strong edit. Never settle. Work can always be better.
What professional advice do you have for others?
Be authentic; treat everyone with respect, regardless of their position; transparency builds trust; and be honest.
I love this Mark Twain quote: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?
I’m all over the place. Motown, 80s and 90s Country, The Greatest Showman Soundtrack, Disney Karaoke, Simon & Garfunkel. Although when I need to focus I can only listen to the sound of rain.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
Right now I’m loving Ford’s Fish Shack. Nothing beats their fish & chips and a cold beer.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
In high school I played the trombone in marching band and worked at a tackle shop… and both were excellent character builders.
All joking aside, I feel so honored to be able to work in a field that I love. In each phase of my career, I have been privileged to work alongside many incredible and genuine people. This is one talented town and I’m so glad to be a part of it.
To stay current on items of interest to communicators, visit Capitol Communicator at www.capitolcommunicator.com.