Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Ron Villacarillo, Art Director at Barber Martin Agency in Richmond. 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.

Ron, please provide us with a short bio.

Growing up I was always involved in some form of art. I came from the “MTV Generation”. I worked in the mall, collected skateboard stickers and music posters. It all influenced me to pursue a job that embraced pop culture and creativity. I ended up going to college for graphic design and went on to earn a graduate degree from the VCU Brandcenter – it was the “Adcenter” when I was there. Since then I’ve lived and worked in New York City, California twice and have boomeranged back to Richmond. I’ve been a designer, art director and creative director at ad agencies big and small, including The Martin Agency, Vitro, Secret Weapon, CP+B, TBWA\Chiat\Day, DDB and Saatchi & Saatchi. For the past year and a half I’ve been at Barber Martin Agency, which is located in Scott’s Addition in Richmond, VA. With a staff of 30 people we’re big enough to know, yet small enough to care. I love that.

What is the thing you are most proud of? 

I’m proud of the fact that I’m able to adapt well to new places and changing environments. In fact, I look forward to it. You never know what kind of curve balls will be thrown your way. I thrive on being put outside of my comfort zone.

Who are your personal role models?

I’ve had many role models both personally and professionally. My Dad instilled a strong work ethic while my Mom encouraged me to pursue my passions. All of my teachers in design and advertising school kicked my ass and I’m so thankful for it – a big shout out to Robert McCullough, Jelly Helm, Jerry Torchia and Mark Fenske.

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

I’d say the biggest role models in my career weren’t individuals, but the collective forces that made up the agencies I’ve worked for. It wasn’t so much “advice”, but rather osmosis. There’s something really special about being surrounded by so much talent in one place. Witnessing the tenacity and dedication to produce projects that people feel strongly about becomes contagious. I hope that I have that kind of influence on younger creatives today.

What professional advice do you have for others?

Never stop learning. You can be taught something new by anyone. Know when to put the pencil down and pick it up again. Good ideas can come just as easily in two minutes as they can in two days. Talk less, listen more and, most importantly, be yourself.

What’s on your Spotify playlist?

Lots of old school hip hop and classic reggae. But at the moment it’s a grab bag of Prince, Dinosaur Jr., The XX, Bad Brains, Kendrick Lamar, Talking Heads and Chaka Khan.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

In Richmond, hands down Mamma Zu. Joe’s Inn and Mekong are runner-ups.

Anywhere else?

Taco Bell. Yes, I consider it a restaurant.


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