Chattanooga Superstar

Some inspiration for your day! An interview with the amazing Seun Erinle. Seun is a graphic designer and front-end web developer; she’s also the founder of BlerdNation, an online community for Black Nerds (Blerds), and A.I.R. Labs, an after school code program for kids. Chattanooga is lucky to have her!

Giselle: How did you get into graphic design and front-end web development? Was there a defining point in your career, and if so, how did it shape you?

Seun: My family has always had computers in the house…since the mid to late 80s. I knew when I was applying to university that I wanted to do something with computers. I signed up for Computer Science (software programming), but I wasn’t fully satisfied with it. After graduating I went to design school and that’s where everything came together: coding and design. Creating User Interfaces and graphics complemented what I had learned in my first degree. As of now, my whole career is a defining point. I feel like the most life-changing moments are happening right now; and it’s extremely exciting.

Giselle: If you could change one thing about your career to date, what would it be?

Seun: I’m going to cheat and name three things, but they all fall under the category of being tenacious. I wish that I was more organized in the beginning of my career, more outspoken, and more persistent in finding a mentor. But all of these things have slowly come to fruition, except for the mentor part. I am a lot more organized and I have come out of my shell. I surprise myself all the time, especially when it comes to public speaking and meeting new people.

Giselle: Along with designing and coding, you’re also involved in CodeXX, teaching kids to code, and founding BlerdNation. Do you view one project as an extension of the others, or are they, to you, entirely different beasts? What sorts of challenges does each pose?

Seun: CodeXX and teaching code are a kind of an extension of each other. BlerdNation is an entirely different universe. But I’m passionate about all of it, though. It’s fun and challenging. The main challenge is balancing each project and giving them the time they deserve.

Giselle: Your energy and passion makes a lot of your projects seem effortless – to what extent is that true?

Seun: I would say that that statement is quite true. It doesn’t mean that the projects that I work on aren’t hard work, because they are. But when you’re passionate about something you’ll be persistent about them and things seem to work out for the best at the end of the day.

Giselle: Where do you see yourself in, say, five years?

Seun: In five years I would hope that the many projects that I am working on (there are more that aren’t mentioned here) are successful and sustaining.

Giselle: Outside of design and coding, what sorts of things inspire and influence your work?

Seun: Minimalism. Minimalism of anything inspires my work. Whether it’s architecture, or product design, or other people’s art. I am a minimalist at heart and I believe it reflects in my work.

Giselle: If, in some Freaky Friday-like situation, you could live the life of another designer, coder, or creative, for a day, who would it be, and why?

Seun: Jessica Hische is pretty cool. She is a great typography artist. Her skills are ridiculous.

Giselle: How would you define success? Do you think you’ve found it yet?

Seun: Success is being persistent (Have you seen a pattern? Persistence is my word!). Success is something that you should continuously strive for. There is no stopping or winning point. It is ongoing. I have found it in small nuggets here and there but I will always chase success in all areas of my life, personally and professionally.

Giselle: And finally, what tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started?

Seun: Just start! A lot of people contemplate getting started, they wonder what will happen, if it’s worth their time…what if they don’t succeed. All of these worries are valid to some point, but if you never actually start, you won’t be able to prove yourself right or wrong. And if you start something and it doesn’t work out, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again or pick something else to start. Failure does not mean that you never try anything again. It just means you should reassess your situation and train of thought. Just start.

Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.

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