Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Karen Lonesome. 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.

Karen, please provide us a short bio.

Art has always been a passion of mine. As a child, I was constantly carrying around a pencil and paper, asking people to “give me something to draw.” Now, my creative energies are being challenged to look at things in different ways — to find creative solutions that work for all different kinds of clients and audiences.

Throughout my 20 years of experience, I’ve worked with several area ad agencies, which has led me to where I am now — an Associate Creative Director with Horne Creative Group. I get to create with a tight-knit group of amazing professionals who are like family and I oversee the development of design within the creative department. I’m a DC/Metro-area native and a graduate of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, where I earned my BFA with a concentration in Graphic Design and a minor in Art History. Also, like probably a lot of designers my age, I was inspired by the ground-breaking work of David Carson. Dave McKean is another deconstruction and mixed-media genius I adore and David Mack is a mixed-media god. I’m sensing a theme here…

The D.C. area is great for exposure to all types of work and my career to date has definitely been engaging and fulfilling. I’ve had my hand in lots of different government projects, Telecomm, B2B, education, renewable energy, nonprofits, some really unique consumer and travel accounts, and even book cover design.

What are you are most proud of?

The people I’ve met, the relationships I’ve cultivated, the great projects and great teams that I’ve been a part of and, most of all, inspiring the creativity of my two amazing daughters. I love to see what they create and come up with on a daily basis. And it’s super cool to see their eyes light up when I show them what I’ve been working on.

Who are your personal role models?

I am lucky to have many individuals as my personal inspiration. My parents and my husband who model confidence and quiet strength, and they always believe that I’m capable of great things, even when I’m in doubt. My brother Ken who ventured into the design world first, giving me an early peek at what I could be doing – and who kindly donated his old PowerMac 7500 so that his little sister might be able to design in her dorm room. Of my friends and former colleagues, Donald, who is a creative genius and always pushed me to challenge myself, and Drew and Steve, who helped instill in me the details of a finely crafted layout and mechanical. And finally, Robert McCullough — one of my fantastic design professors from ODU. He was demanding and a tough critic but he drilled good design and ethics into you. And, if you were lucky enough to do well in his class, you knew that you truly earned your grade.

Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

Poke the bear, stir the pot… so, while my natural shyness makes me most comfortable as a behind-the-scenes observer, I have learned to trust my instincts and voice ideas that can help us see things in a different light.

What professional advice do you have for others?

Don’t burn bridges. Over the years, I have built up a vast network of colleagues and friends. They’ve helped me move into new jobs, meet new people and, when I decided to take the plunge into freelance for a bit, they helped by sending jobs and possibilities my way. Always try to keep positive connections with those you meet, especially in the industry, as you never know where your travels will take you.

What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?

Currently, my playlists come from Google Play Music, YouTube Music or my extensive iTunes library. When working, I lean toward Psybient and Psytrance (Bluetech, Phutureprimitive, Androcell, Sync24). If I need something more upbeat, I skip over to Hybrid, Cirrus, Deepsky, Juno Reactor, Infected Mushroom. Tool is my all-time favorite band with Puscifer and Front Line Assembly close behind. 90s Industrial is my fall-back when I’m jammin’ in the car and I can’t deny that the Into the Spiderverse and Black Panther soundtracks find themselves on rotation at least once a week since they were released.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

In terms of local, which is Northern Virginia, and unique, I’m definitely diggin’ Mokomandy of late — fantastic Korean/Cajun fusion, despite being a total wuss when it comes to spice. One of my all-time favorites, though, would have to be Kenny B’s on Hilton Head Island, SC. His New Orleans-style Sunday breakfast buffet with its beignets and bananas foster bread pudding makes my mouth water.

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

Star Wars. My husband and I are massive Star Wars fans and we’ve successfully passed the geek baton on to our girls. And I love ravens. My license plate pertains to ravens and I have a raven-inspired tattoo.

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