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Department Of Design

Design Grad Holland Seamons on How Her BYU Experience Led Her to Nike

Graduating Senior Holland Seamons Answers Questions about Her Time at BYU

Photo by Emma Olson, CFAC External Relations

Q: How have you found belonging during your time at BYU?

Seamons: I think the two biggest experiences I had that really solidified the word “belonging” for me were the Sandbox program and the Dutch Design Week study abroad. Through the Sandbox program, I was able to be part of a community of female designers and the classes and trips we took to meet other designers. My study abroad helped me to put myself out there in a variety of design communities. I found a lot of like-minded designers, and I had many opportunities to meet mentors, which really helped me find belonging.

Q: How has your BYU education prepared you for the future?

Seamons: When I was interviewing for a job at Nike, one of the questions they asked me was: “How did your schooling prepare you for a career in a job?” I think one of the biggest things that the BYU design program specifically taught me was how to be dynamic, flexible and a self-starter. When I started working, I was able to talk to one of my interviewers and they said the main reason that they hired me was because I was a self-starter.

Truly, I believe that came from the experiences I had at BYU where the teachers and the professors really pushed me. They give students a very open-ended and brief prompt, and they let you run with it while they give you the resources to explore. The excitement that they generate around creativity and the work that they do made me excited to do it myself. That generated within me this desire to be a self-starter.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

Seamons: I'm going to work for Nike as a digital product designer, so my husband and I just moved to San Francisco. I'll also be applying to grad school next year.

Q: Which professor inspired you the most? Why?

Seamons: This is the hardest question to answer. There's just so many professors, and they all have a unique impact on my life. Doug Thomas and Seth Christiansen were two of my design instructors in the user-experience track who totally shaped how I think about product design, and they helped me delve into my portfolio. I'd say they have been my greatest mentors at BYU.

The most inspiring teacher I've had at BYU who changed not my career but rather who I am is Luke Gibson. He was my motion design professor, and he helped me see myself as a human being and not just a designer. I feel like we often label ourselves by saying things like, “I am a designer,” but when we don't live up to that label, it can be really overwhelming. Professor Gibson taught me the importance of taking care of my mental health. He may never truly know the impact that he had on me and what he meant to me as a teacher, but he helped me see myself as a person.

Even though design is so important, to me, my identity and my mental health are also really important. Being a designer and being Holland is what makes me who I am.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to current students?

Seamons: I started in advertising, but felt overwhelmed and confined to a certain sector of design. After I made a switch over to graphic design and user-experience design, the world of design was opened to me. But again, I found myself pigeonholing myself and began putting constraints on myself and I would ask myself questions. “What's my style?” “What's my brand?” Those are the most cliche and taboo questions, and if I could go back in time, I’d tell myself to just experience it all.

Become a sponge and take classes that are outside of your major. Take classes that might be in your major, but are things you didn't really consider doing before. Open yourself up to all the ideas and opportunities because you're going to meet really cool people in each of these classes who are going to add something to your life and your career, and it will expand your world so much. Don't constrain yourself to what other people around you are doing. Everyone has a very personal path and you have to embrace the messiness and chaos as you find yours.

Q: What was your most inspiring experience at BYU? Why?

Seamons: The most inspiring experience I had at BYU was attending a study abroad and going to the Dutch Design Week. It was the most eye-opening and enriching experience for myself as an artist and a designer. After meeting hundreds of European designers, talking to them about their process and seeing how they drive social impact with their designs, I felt so differently about my role as a designer.

I am not just a creator but also a communicator and a storyteller. I can share the story of what somebody or a community is experiencing. I learned that my role isn't only to drive up profit margins but to create really meaningful experiences for those that are viewing my work. I left design week feeling so empowered as a woman, as a student and as a designer. From then on, I knew that I wanted more schooling, I wanted to get my masters and become a teacher. I wanted to do all these things because of that 10-day trip and Dutch Design Week and I did not expect it.

Q: What is your go-to strategy when you hit a creative block?

Seamons: I get stuck in creative blocks more than I care to admit so I’ve come up with a formula to help. Whenever I hit a creative block, I go on a walk, and I listen to my creative block playlist. I actually have a playlist on Spotify called “creative block,” and it's filled with movie soundtrack music. When I go on a walk, I usually choose someplace in nature. Currently we live right on a pier in San Francisco, so I walk up and down the pier, focus on the music and think about how it's making me feel. I try to get my mind off design.

Then when I get back home, I call my parents to just chat about life and see how they are doing. My parents literally birthed my creative brain and going to them is always so insightful. Then, I go to my husband and we talk about what I was going through and what experiences I was having. He is the best problem solver ever. So every single time I hit a creative block, I do these three things. I think the biggest thing for me is going into my own space and reflecting on all that is going on, and then going to my parents and my husband. They are like my personal board of executives that help me get through both harsh criticism and creative blocks.

Q: What aspect of design are you most passionate about? Why?

Seamons: I would say the area of design that I'm most passionate about is inspiring awe and creating meaningful experiences in both digital and physical ways. I have met designers whose work instantly makes me feel small, in good ways. I feel so inspired and in awe of what they've created, what they've done, why they've done it and who they’ve done it for. I want to create these meaningful, awe-inspiring experiences for others. I'm also passionate about bridging the physical and digital worlds. Nike is a physical brand that makes things for people to wear. However, I work in a very digital space so there's a dissonance, and the way people view the design of those two things is different. But I'm passionate about melding those together and finding ways to engage people both physically and digitally. I hope this translates into my career in the future and that by telling stories digitally I can create physical experiences.