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

Marc, please tell us a bit about yourself.

I subscribe to the Massimo Vignelli multidisciplinary design school of thought: “If you can design one thing, you can design anything.” Though I’d put it this way: “If you love design, you will design everything.”

While studying landscape architecture and art history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst I learned to see the world through the distinct lenses of form, order, space and time. I was fascinated with the challenge of manipulating these elements to create meaningful experiences. I quickly became obsessed with design, spending all my free time designing university websites, the school newspaper and books for the University Press.

After graduating in ‘98, I focused my professional career on designing digital experiences for creative agencies and consulting firms. In 2000, I enrolled in post-graduate studies at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston to study typography with a couple of professors I respected. In my free time, I pursued a love of furniture design, studying under artists in Boston and D.C.

Currently, I’m an Executive Creative Director with FleishmanHillard in Washington, D.C., where I’ve been since 2003. I lead a team of talented creatives who use the power of creative strategy and visual communications to move minds, build brands and influence outcomes.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

The organization I get the most excited about is Bike Arlington’s Freezing Saddles. It’s a friendly competition where over 200 cycling enthusiasts from the region compete to see who can consistently ride the most miles through the winter months. This year I was the proud captain of Team 13, the Lucky Iceholes. Join us by signing up in November — you can help expand cycling in the region.

What are the things you are most proud of?

I’d say my three kids, but they need to prove their worth. Until they do, it would have to be all the creatives who worked alongside me over the years and have gone on to do great things – I take full credit for everything they’ve done.

Who is your personal role model?

The closest thing would be my first studio professor who taught me to better understand design challenges by considering the most extreme polar states of any direction. I use this to think through problems every day. To successfully work in grey, we need to fully understand black. And fully understand white. 

Did this professor offer advice that helped you in your career?

He also introduced me to Jay Appleton’s prospect-refuge theory which posits that, on a primal level, we’re most comfortable in spaces where we have both prospect and refuge. To create design which reaches and moves people, we need to work hard to maintain an understanding, appreciation and conscious attention to our biological drivers.

What professional advice do you have for others?

Create and preserve art value in your work, whatever your work is. 

What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?

I’m always exploring new music while biking. I particularly like bluegrass while putting in miles on the C&O Canal. I like to imagine the workers were singing the exact same old-timey folk tunes while building the canal and floating coal down it.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

Not my current favorite, but for a decade I ate Dal and Saag from Naan and Beyond two or three times a week. 

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

Yes, let’s connect and talk about it – maybe we can create something together.  

About The Author

The only child of a university art professor and freethinker mother, Cade Martin grew up surrounded by shapes and images. His love of art grew out of summer vacations filled with trips to galleries, museums and art studios. At home he often found himself around the dinner table with an eclectic cast of characters – sculptors, writers and painters. They paraded through his childhood, shaping his art foundation and forming his appreciation for the candid beauty found in people from all walks of life. Cade’s been chasing characters ever since. He seeks out their stories-told through the architecture of their faces or the costumes they wear-whether he’s on a commercial production or setting up an Avedon-like photo booth at Comic Con. They are the heroes in his pictures. His thirst for capturing adventures took its hold while shooting stills on movie sets and then as a photographer for National Geographic covering the railways of India. And it is that sense of adventure that Cade brings to his productions elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary with a cinematic touch. It’s not just a picture. He’s committed to the experience, building beautiful environments and, sometimes for his portraits, simply building trust. A talented storyteller, Cade splits his time between the East and West Coasts creating images for editorial, advertising, fashion, and lifestyle clients

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