Featured Awards Winner

Nathan Holthus

April 2018

A big congrats to Nathan Holthus, one of our 30 TDK Awards’ winners for 2018. A McPherson College graduate from Wichita KS, their work was chosen by Steven & Justin from National Forest: “Nathan has a great understanding of branding and typography design. He’s doing what he loves and it really shows. At National Forest we’re big fans of the ‘Americana Style’ and blue-collar approach to Nathan’s work- his portfolio presents a lot of great branding and we’re looking forward to seeing what he explores next”. We asked Nathan to answer a few questions for next years TDK Awards’ hopefuls.

What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened?

Well, that’s a great question. I suppose the idea was to find an amazing job at an awesome studio in one of my favorite cities right away, with no resistance! That’s the dream I suppose.

What actually happened is that I continued to work on my portfolio and search for jobs for 30 hours a week (on top of work) for 5 months before accepting a position at Barkley Inc. in Kansas City.

Barkley was an awesome place to work, with awesome people! But about 4 months in, Bill Gardner of Gardner Design called me, pretty much out of the blue. I’ll spare you the details, but I ended up accepting a position at Bill’s studio and relocating to Wichita, where I now live.

It was a lot of work, and a lot of rolling with the unexpected, but I guess that’s life!

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?

  1. Stay Humble. Learn everything you can from everyone you encounter, and let your work speak for itself.

  2. The timing is never right. The chances of a great opportunity coming to you at exactly the right moment are slim to none. Be flexible, and be willing to get out of your comfort zone.

  3. Explore every option and make every connection. You never know when an opportunity will arise from something you did or someone you met months or even years ago.

  4. Try new things! Try out a new style, or a new technique. If you like it, try it again until you’re good at it. If you don’t like it, at least you can cross that off the list. Some of my favorite pieces came from trying out something new.

  5. Do what you love. If you’re passionate about what you’re designing, it will show. Great opportunities come to those who show enthusiasm and devotion.

Who are your top five design crushes right now globally?

Oh man – There are so many, it’s hard to even narrow it down! But I’ll try my best.

Steve Wolf - I’ve been following Steve for a few years now, and it just seems like he’s the full package. Well thought out and interesting design. It never gets boring to me.

Jay Fletcher - The way that this guy can distill an object to its most simple form, but keep it interesting and fun is harder than he makes it look. Plus his colors are always on point.

Helm’s Workshop - Beautifully integrated type, illustration, and just all around good design. Point at any designer there and they’re on my short list.

Forefathers Group - For just three guys, this studio is absolutely amazing in so many realms of design - type, illustration, UI. The level of work is outstanding to me.

Simon Walker - If you were to ask me how to make a beautiful logotype, I would absolutely point you to Simon. He has such a deep understanding of letterforms and can manipulate them so effortlessly. His Frank & Edith piece is my favorite.

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Explore every option and make every connection. You never know when an opportunity will arise from something you did or someone you met months or even years ago.

"

What advice would you give students starting out?

Always push the idea. When you have designed something and you think it looks great, let it rest overnight and come back to it the next day to work it some more. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can make when you just push it a little bit further than you think you need to.

Lastly, live in the minutia AND the big picture. I’m not saying I’m there yet, but the most powerful design happens when everything is on point, from the big picture to the details. Whichever you think your strength is, put some effort into becoming better at the other!

Dribbble: /nathanholthus

Instagram: @nathanholthus

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