How I Learn By Samm McAlear

THIS SERIES IS ABOUT PEOPLE I admire answering the question: “How Do You Learn?” According to the dictionary:  learn (verb) means to gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, experience, or being taught. I want, and hopefully my readers as well, to pick up lessons from individuals who are happy, socially responsible and uniquely successful. 
I started off by answering this question myself, and now it’s time to pass the baton to Samm McAlear. He and I knew each other as student-athletes at Academy of Art University. Equipped with the grit of a baseball player, Samm is turning his competitiveness and drive to graphic design. He is currently working at Nike as a Product Designer intern. 

Location: Beaverton, Oregon 
Current Gig: Product Designer and Product Graphics Intern (NIKE), Student (Graphic Design, AAU)


What inspires you?
Travel. It’s crazy how you can take a 45 minute flight from one city to another and you can tell you’re in a completely different enviroment. Culture is everything and I love seeing the differences between people and communities from one place to another. Everyone of us was brought up with different values and family history that contribute to who we are, and what traits we pass on to the next generation. You don’t even have to travel the world to find this, you could drive a couple hours to the next state over and gain a whole different perspective on life. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to travel all over the world and it’s definitely influenced me as a designer. Sometimes we get so caught up in doing things a certain way because it’s comfortable for us and we fail to see there are other ways to accomplish the same task. 
I love talking to people who were around before technology and hearing how they created. There is an authenticity you get by doing something with your hands, and that seems to get lost in the modern technology age. Part of my reaction to this is now whenever I take photographs I shoot everything on disposable cameras. There is something about capturing a moment on a disposable that is so authentic because you can’t snap off 14 frames in a row like you can on modern DSLR’s. What you shoot is what you get. You capture that authentic moment and something is so real about it. 
And music. I can’t work without listening to music. It sets the tone and allows me to zone into what I’m working on. 

Describe a typical day. 

Wake up. Eat some breakfast while checking Instagram. Spending 15-20 minutes sketching random things to get my brain started up, sometimes the sketches lead to other ideas, sometimes they’re chicken scratch. Then sit down at the computer and log into my online classes and try and knock some HW out of the way. Once I get bored of that I’ll check my usual design blogs and then get started on whatever freelance work I have. Eat lunch, Work out and shower then get back to either client work or homework depending on the day. 
On travel days I try not to get on my computer. Instead I’ll either read a book or draw, but things always change depending on my workload. 

A doodle on a plane

Anything cool you’re working on?

I just finished some stuff up at Nike that should be releasing here very soon, and continuing to release throughout the rest of 2014 and into 2015. 
I’m also finishing up Art Direction a national campaign for Monster Products, a headphone company based in the bay. Currently looking for more cool projects too!

How do you get news everyday? 
By watching the news in the morning, the internet, and Twitter. 

How do you share what you know? 
I use Twitter mainly to share what I know. I use Facebook mainly as a way to stay connected to old friends and family that live all over the country. 

What continues to influences your life?
Nike cap
One of Samm’s design for Nike

Music and the incredibly talented people that I have the opportunity to work with. If you told me when I started college in 2010 that I would have worked for Nike, and get paid to work for and with musicians and athletes that I look up is still pretty crazy to me, and sometimes it doesn’t even feel real. That alone influences and inspires me to continue to grow as a designer and never stop learning. 

An unforgettable quote.
Don’t think about what can happen in a month, or what can happen in a year. Instead, focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to be closer to where and what you want to be. I have no idea who said it, but I love it!

Your Top 5 Fascinating People and what would you like to learn from them?

 Kanye West, Benjamin Franklin, Rick Rubin, Warren Buffet and Nelson Mandela
 Kanye West, Benjamin Franklin, Rick Rubin, Warren Buffet and Nelson Mandela

Warren Buffet – the man started with nothing and now he owns damn near half of the US it seems like. 
Rick Rubin – The guy has produced for everyone from the Dixie chicks to Kanye. He makes a hit album, then seems to disappear for years, then all of a sudden is back making more classics. 
Kanye West – beneath all the craziness and antics there is hints of true creative genius that I feel tends to get misunderstood just because of how passionate he is about what he loves. 
Benjamin Franklin – the way at which he approached problems and discovered solutions really fascinates me. 
Nelson Mandela – He witnessed people at there worst, and was still able to forgive and focus on the good of the greater people, changing the history of a country,  and in turn impacting the world in a way which I think he never imagined. 

What is a book or movie that changed you?

The last book and movie that really made me think were ‘The Butler” (Film) and Lullaby” by Chuck Palahniuk.
What do you know for sure?
I wake up every morning excited that I get paid to do what I love. 
Lastly, I would love for  Andrea Nieto  to answer these questions.


Contact: Follow Samm’s Instagram here.

To see the rest of his work, go to: