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Ask Lawrence: What experience should you have to really call yourself a Senior Graphic Designer?

21 Feb 14:00 By Lawrence Akers

What experience should you have to really call yourself a Senior Graphic Designer?

I’ve often said that the easiest way to cause graphic designers to get into a heated debate is to ask the simple question,’ when can a graphic designer call themselves a Senior Graphic Designer’?

Too often, people consider the length of time as being the indicator however, while this is certainly an aspect of it, the reality is that I’ve seen some graphic designers who have been ‘designing’ for 20 years and, frankly, they’re just not very good.

Just because you’ve been doing it for 20 years, doesn’t mean that you’re a Senior Graphic Designer. When you break it down, the only reason why the length of time in the industry is relevant is because you have hopefully had a diverse range of experiences that have continued to evolve who you are as a creative, and if you haven’t had that, then perhaps that is something to consider.

This week, I wanted to share with you some of the things we’re looking for that help us to understand if a person is really as Senior as they would like to think they are.


This may come as the least surprising expectation however it would be expected that a Senior Graphic Designer is able to come up with the concept from the brief. This can often be represented in their folio by showing some of the research that went into the work or to highlight some of the ideation/sketches that may have evolved as well.


A Senior Graphic Designer should be able to present concepts for further development to the team that they’re mentoring/leading, sharing that vision and guiding them through the next steps.  

On the flipside of this would be the ability to present their ideas comfortably to clients and to be able to articulate their ideation in a way that resonates.


A Senior Graphic Designer often has an involvement in the strategy; it’s not just the concept from the brief, it is writing that brief for others to follow.


Lastly, a Senior Graphic Designer has the ability to problem solve rather than just take direction.  

They’re looking at the brief and constantly thinking about how they can use their design skills to overcome the challenges that exist within the brief.  


In my opinion, great designers take their continued professional development very seriously. They are truly passionate about design and it ignites them in a way that is clearly visible. I know that when I’m talking to someone who is so excitedly immersed in the creative world, it's an inspiring conversation. They know who influences them and what the trends are. They recognise that they always have something else to learn and that the world is full of opportunities to create in new and exciting ways.

All this combined often results in work that is not only beautiful and practical, but has substance, can work across multiple levels and touch-points, and they can walk you through this.

If you’re using the title Senior Graphic Designer at the moment, perhaps go through this list and consider how many of these you can confidently tick off and how many are perhaps areas that need some further exploration and work.