Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Shari Hindman. 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 to Michelle Torres.
Shari, please provide us a short bio.
I was born and raised in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia and consider myself a mountain girl at heart. When it was time to go to college, I moved from the hills to the flatlands: Richmond, Va. That was quite a culture shock. In my college years, studying Communications Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University, I thought I was going to be an illustrator. But I ended up working my way to art director status at several small agencies before landing a job at The Martin Agency. That is where I got my real education. I absorbed as much as I could before moving on to Siddall Communications as senior AD and, eventually, creative director.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
As Groucho Marx once said, “I don’t care to belong to any club that would have me as a member.” But seriously, I’ve been a member of the ad club off and on over the years. And, I am a member of several outdoor organizations like Sierra Club and avid supporter of the National Parks system.
What are the things you are most proud of?
I’m proud of my strong work ethic which comes from my hard-working farming roots. If you fall off the truck, get back on it and don’t whine about it. I’m not saying I never whined, but it was unacceptable behavior and we learned that quickly. Also, when your grandad is the local sheriff and he locks you up in jail with your big sister and little brother, you straighten up pretty quickly. I’m proud of my kids for being true to themselves. I’m proud of a few projects – work and personal – that felt like magic as I was working on them and turned into magic when I was done.
Who are your personal role models?
The Martin Agency guys – Mike Hughes, Harry Jacobs and Danny Boone – and Diane Cook-Tench, because she proved to me that a woman could be successful in the advertising world. From that perspective, she gave me courage that I might not have had. When the time came, she helped me realize that not only can a woman be successful in the business, she can also balance that with a family. And last but certainly not least, John Siddall who helped me find my wings. His faith in me, his brilliant insights and guidance through the years have been key ingredients in making me who I am as a creative person today.
Did these role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
One of the first pieces of advice I ever received relating to my career came from my dad. He knew I wanted to go into graphic arts. He told me to always be observant. Day in and day out. He told me to pay attention to the way the light hit the trees, the way the sky gets darker, the way light and water refract things, the way faces react to emotion, and on and on. This helped me see beyond the surface, which is important for an art director. I used that advice as a foundation during art school, throughout my career and also when I went back to teach classes at VCU.
And, of course, my role models all gave me great advice and encouragement to believe in myself.
What professional advice do you have for others?
- Be observant! Don’t let your biases distract you from really seeing.
- Don’t let criticism crush your soul. Creative people are super sensitive. Remember, it’s just ads.
- Be flexible. That’s part of what makes you creative.
- Don’t be a jerk. There are plenty in the business. You don’t have to be one.
- Be true to yourself.
- Believe in yourself
What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?
The “Hamilton” soundtrack, Dylan, Queen, Dave Matthews, Elton John, Lumineers, Beck, Band of Horses, Willie and Waylon, Bonnie Raitt and Krishna Das. It’s a true hodgepodge of sounds.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
I’m not a foodie. I have pretty simple tastes. But, I do love to discover new restaurants and seek out local spots when I travel. I love Greek food, and Stella’s is the best in Richmond. And I love a good salad. Give me some greens, a Hanover tomato and some cheese and I’m a happy girl.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
My great-grandfather was raised by his uncle, Devil Anse Hatfield. I’ve been a flatlander for so long, I’ve forgotten how to drive in the mountains. I hope to move back there someday, so I’ll have to relearn.