The E-Mail Interviews: Oen Hammonds

3 OenHammondsThe e-mail interviews are baaaack! Command G is happy to feature advice from the wonderful Oen Hammonds. He is currently the Education Director at AIGA Austin and Associate Creative Director as SicolaMartin all while teaching at ACC.  This guy seriously does it all, so pay attention.

Check out his portfolio here,


From: Oen M. Hammonds

To: Command G

  1. Are there any books you would suggest undergrads read before graduating?

The one book I recommend to a lot of undergrads is Adrian Shaughnessy’s “How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul.” It is a straightforward and practical guide to a lot of things a beginning designer needs after graduation.

Another book that just recently came out is “Graduating Guide for Design Students.” It gives practical advice to students before graduation in a smart and nicely illustrated manner.


2. What are the top three tips you have to be successful in the creative field?

This is hard because there are a lot of great things that a young creative really doesn’t learn until they get out there and do it.

-Ask questions and never stop learning.

-Have an imagination.

-When someone tells you no, try it anyway. I see a lot of good talent get frustrated or even leave the industry because their client does is not willing to take a chance with creatively different creative.


3. How did you make your foray into teaching, and when did you make that decision?

I was first asked to teach in 2005 when a faculty member from my alma mater, Northern Kentucky University, asked me to teach an Introduction to Computer Graphics class. It was painful and exciting at the same time. Part of me wanted to try it just to see if I like it. I knew I would not be a full-time designer forever but I knew I wanted to play some part in it somehow. Also, I had some amazing mentors (Robert Johnson, Les Hall and John Carpenter) that helped and encouraged me as a student and newbie designer. I felt that I should share the things that I learned from them with other future designers.

Here I am 8 years later loving teaching more and more each year.


4. What are some daily activities to get out of a creative rut?

I freelance a lot as well as all the other creative things I do. Teaching helps me a lot by keeping me on my toes to stay ahead of my students and to introduce them to new things that I discover when doing research. I love what I do at SicolaMartin but at times I feel my brain is not being used to its full potential. So, freelancing (paid or unpaid) gives me the ability to really stretch my brain cells.

At the end of the day I still have not forgotten my roots of being an artist. I am nowhere as good as I use to be but I still do it for fun and to get ideas to paper. I also do something really, really easy. I take walks.


5. What are the qualities you look for in a designer? Is there a specific skill set you prefer?

Someone who asks questions, but also is a good listener.

Someone who thinks, but also respects other opinions.

Someone willing to take chances, not just do what is expected.

Notice that none of those tips talk about software or having the best equipment.


6. How do you think creativity and technology coexist?

I see technology as just another medium just the same as pencil, paper and ink. We may have reached the limitations of traditional mediums but any new technology plays a “…fundamental connection between form and material, between human reason and the human body.” Rebecca Mendez the End of Print by David Carson

Technology is changing behaviors, but ideas and how we tell the stories are everything – this is how we influence behavior. As long as we remember that it’s about the idea and the story, not simply the devices or technology, we will create great and enduring ideas.


Oen M. Hammonds, AIGA Education Director

Visual Notepad


Big thanks to Oen Hammonds for his great advice!


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