We all know the quote “everything happens for a reason,” and often use it as means of acceptance when things don’t go according to plan. However, after nearly losing his arm during a severe snowboarding accident, our latest Urban Beardsman Nick Hammond didn’t take those words at face value. Instead, he was inspired by the misfortune to never take life for granted moving forward. It became a self-defining moment resulting in his lucrative design career built from the ground up—all symbolic of his overarching philosophy, to “never settle.”
“Trust yourself and make your own judgments regardless of what people tell you.”
At the age of twenty-three, this self-proclaimed purveyor of design and quality adventure wear holds high expectations for himself—and his drive and determination is proving to pay off. Whether creating his latest graphic design project, refining his apparel collection, or exploring the great outdoors for his latest photo-art exhibitions; he’s paved a way to blend his joy for nature with his keen eye for design.
Fitting the bill that native Wisconsinites are uber-friendly, Hammond’s easygoing persona mixed with his solid work ethic has earned him mass cred in the design world. With an impressive client roster such as Yamaha under his belt, Hammond continues to accept increasing requests for his skills all over the globe.
Hammond’s achievements never came easy at first, (cue Jack Johnson’s “All At Once” track), as he had endured quite a few bumps in the road to get his grounding. “As much as the snowboarding accident sucked, it isn’t something I’d wish away since it gave me an incredible perspective on life at a fairly young age. It really inspired me to be grateful for having my hand and being able to do what I love.”
Aside from enduring a crash course in appreciating the little things, Hammond also credits a favorite pastime growing up that impacted his career. “Paintball was a huge part of my life that also gave me exposure to marketing—designing flyers, jerseys and things of that nature. It made me wonder how I could continue to play paintball while merging it with other things I love.”
Hammond continued to carve his path at The University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee where he polished his design skills and earned a degree in marketing. However, it was the experiences outside the classroom that would later become inspiration for his clear-cut style; described as a mixture of punk influences merged with modernism. “I’m constantly continuing to grow as an artist. In the past, I looked towards other people to inspire me, but now, other forms of nature inspire me for ideas. I really believe with design, you need to push your own style instead of only looking towards others.”
Although graphic design is his bread and butter, Hammond also enjoys leaving his fingerprint in other creative realms. Currently, he can be found working closely with former Urban Beadsman Jimmy Hickey, designing headwear for the latest Findlay Hats collection, revealing, “I don’t have the capital to put into producing a lot of my own apparel designs at the moment, so for now I’m just enjoying making what I would appreciate wearing.”
With the amount freedom you can enjoy when self-employed, it’s easy to become derailed, however, Hammond shares a few tips on how he keeps himself on track. “I often take time out to reflect on the intersection between design and the choices we all face in life through my blog. And I really enjoy reading biographies. Learning about other people’s lives and how they overcame certain situations is very inspiring to me.”
While he continues to set the script for his own biography, Hammond remains humble and shares a few words of encouragement for others wanting to pursue an independent career. “First—do things yourself. I tend to have a problem with authority (he laughs) so I hate being told what to do. Trust yourself and make your own judgments regardless of what people tell you, but also take a step back and observe mistakes others have made to avoid doing the same thing.”
Not only is Hammond strategic when it comes to not allowing history to repeat itself, he tackles the future with an impressive multi-tasking system. “I’m really into weightlifting now—so I try to make a daily trip to the gym. I stay in the swing of things working through emails throughout the day, but I also love eating—so it’s this weird mix of pounding the keyboard, while designing and shoving my face with food.”
Following a sharp display of time management, it should be no surprise his beard game is also on point. “It went through different progressions and various lengths, and one day I was like, let’s just go for it. I had just moved to Portland where I didn’t really know anyone, so I was in good place to let it grow out and get past that middle ground stubble phase.“
Since committing to the almighty full-beard, Hammond reveals how it evolved into a much more meaningful purpose. “It more or less represents the freedom of being able to do things myself and learn things on my own—standing behind what I’ve always tried to focus on throughout my life.”
While keeping an eye on all things present, this season sees the talented designer further cementing his status and partnering with others to reach the next level. “I really enjoy helping people do what they love. It just so happens that usually works out through my design and marketing background. I’d also love to get into more non-profit work in the future.”
Demonstrating you can persevere after experiencing some of the most difficult points in your life, Hammond is living proof that although everything may happen for a reason; if you keep an open mind, take ownership of what you can control and believe in yourself, you’re destined for great things—as long as you never settle.