Scott Bushnell

Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring in-depth profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic.  In this “Up Close and Personal” profile, we feature Scott Bushnell. Photography for Capitol Communicator’s profile series is by Cade Martin. Wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup was by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.

Scott, please provide us a short bio.

I came to D.C. in 1979 to attend George Washington University after spending my high school years in the Netherlands. I earned a degree in Visual Communications long before desktop publishing, when we were still inking and pasting up everything, so I consider myself an old-school designer. I’m currently Advertising Creative Director for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and I’m approaching my 30th anniversary there. I started as the art director when they created the in-house advertising department, so I’ve been on the team from the beginning.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

I belonged to Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington for a while and my best memory of that was participating in their ArtStart program where we went to middle schools to talk to students about design careers and do a project with them like designing a CD cover or cereal box. I was amazed by the talent of those young people! I was also a long-time volunteer (20+ years) at the National Zoo’s Invertebrate Exhibit, but they closed it a couple of years ago, so now I’m at the National Museum of Natural History’s Insect Zoo. Stop by on most Sunday mornings and I’ll let you hold a hissing cockroach or a caterpillar!

What are the things you are most proud of?

I think staying at this job so long and still feeling inspired to do the work. It’s a very special building full of creative energy. When you are surrounded by artists, actors, singers, directors, and designers every day, it’s hard not to be energized. I also have been lucky to have great designers and writers on my team to inspire me and help me keep it fresh and a terrific boss to lead us all.

Who are your role models?

Certainly my mother. She recently passed away suddenly and in all the messages of support from her friends and co-workers, I realized how many lives she touched by being such an open and compassionate person. My family has been able to weather this tragedy because of the strong foundation she built. She was also my biggest cheerleader, from the bulletin boards I made for her kindergarten classroom when I was a teenager to my successes at my current job.

Also my partner Edwin, who left a long career as an art director in retail to pursue his dream of being a children’s author. He created his own company Exit Studio and has published several picture books as well as an award-winning Young Adult novel inspired by his Puerto Rican heritage. His hard work and courage in a very competitive field are an inspiration to me.

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

I think the best advice I have gotten is to just do what makes you happy. A job that only gives you money but no personal satisfaction is not worth doing.

What professional advice do you have for others?

I think being passionate about whatever product or organization you are promoting is the most important thing. I know it’s a rarity these days being so long at one job but I wouldn’t have this longevity if I had to sell hamburgers or cars. I am a product of arts programs in schools and I truly believe in their positive impact on people’s lives, whether or not you pursue a career in the arts. Our building has quotes from President Kennedy engraved on the walls but this one in particular speaks to me (and especially at this moment in our history): “This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor.”

What’s appropriate attire at the Kennedy Center?

You’ll see business attire and uniforms in the public areas, but most of us “behind the scenes” dress comfortably. Like most artistic organizations, we have our share of creative dressers. One co-worker frequently showed up at meetings in wigs or a variety of fashionable hats so sometimes it took a second to recognize her!

Where do you buy most of the clothes you wear to work at the Kennedy Center?

I find most American men’s fashion pretty boring so I tend to gravitate towards European brands like Desigual, Uniqlo, and H&M. But I’ve found some interesting pieces at Macy’s or Urban Outfitters too. I mostly like graphic patterns or interesting texture.

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

I took up scuba diving about five years ago and I am hooked. I have dived in the Caribbean, Palau, Belize, and on the Great Barrier Reef. This past July, I got to dive in Cuba in the Bay of Pigs. The diving wasn’t the best – where we were was overfished – but I loved Cuba, and the countryside and Havana were great. I definitely want to go back because it was an amazing cultural experience.




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