Be a senior every day (part I)

Design, career, Professional Development, leadership

Senior graphic designers often have the designation of “senior” because of their authority in decision-making. Or, they will play the lead role on projects and supervise intermediate and junior designer(s) in creating concepts, comps, layouts and final art.

Despite the job description above, what led me to something more than a title in my CV was a changing in thinking and behavior. It's about a senior in, talking, managing, planning, communicating and basically in everything you do when facing a problem at your daily work, either as designing a 300 screens app or updating your dribbble with a new shot.

I call this The Shyriu warrior behavior.


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I’ve been working in the design industry over the past 8 years. I remember my first jobs as a designer and I see myself constantly frustrated because I was caught comparing all the time me with other professionals above my career level worrying about my future. Either I thought that they were pretty bad at design and I have no idea on how they get the position or that I saw the way to be a good one extremely blurry and unclear.

Looking back from now on, what I forgot to do was to pay attention to the present: Stop thinking about who you want to be in the future and start to be this person right now! Today, right after finishing this text!

In this first chapter, I will cover 6 topics that involve the mindset, besides the skills that it might help you be a great designer.


Experience = pain 

Human experience is the ultimate source and justification for all knowledge. Experience itself has accumulated in human memory and culture, gradually producing the methods of intelligence called “reason” and “science.” — John Shook, Free Inquiry, April/May 2008

 Like in any other industry or field, the experience is the most valuable asset that a person can have. I prefer to define experience as the amount of mistakes that you had so far along your career path.

A classical repeating example is that you caught yourself thinking that you can do better and faster the job of your "superiors". But most often you don't really know what the person really does besides saying to you to move some pixels to the left or start all over again. The person above has more experience than you. Who started the business at the beginning? If you are that good, why are you working in a company?

This is a step that you can't be ahead of. It's something that "just" takes time. Knowledge becomes wisdom with consistency and repetition.


Awareness and Timing

- Shyriu, for how long have you been here trying to do this?
- It's going to complete 5 years now master
- And are you trying still?
- I can't do it master…I just can't…
- 5 years is enough time for baby eagle learn how to fly by itself.
- …

Seek, every day, for comprehension in the tasks or objectives that you set for yourself or received. Ask, research, try, test, start all over again. There is no such thing as "the creative blank canvas" where you find yourself paralyzed by analysis. What you lack if at this point, is information, inspiration, reference or awareness of what you must accomplish. Ideas are like grass, they can grow everywhere even into deserts, and everyone can have them. Confront the things that you're producing all the time. Be aware of the whole process of a product, work hard now focusing on the future. Believe me, it makes everything waaaayy easier.

Plan to be ahead of the time, not on time. How? Awareness.



So you decided to be a designer? You're fucked, my friend! But you gonna have lots of fun in the way, that I can assure you.

Curiosity is something that sometimes I see it missing in the older guys of this profession. Either because of external factors or just accommodation.

Looking for references, trying something new, a tool, skill, software or jumping with parachutes, do something new, not necessarily related to your field. But curiosity is your full-time job from now on. Assume the consequences if you're not with this in mind.


Provide guidance and direction

As you've got a collection of mistakes over the time, you start to see the matrix with form and not codes. You are aware enough to see patterns everywhere and when to broke them. It's easy for you to see opportunities.

Show and tell the reason behind decisions. People will respect you and listen carefully if you've being relevant enough.


Knowing when to say no and "I don't know"

Yes! No problem in being humble here. It shows that you're aware and professional enough to not assume a risk without being consciously about it. It's being aware that maybe the problem that you're facing is a little bigger than you thought before.

This is the hardest part of it for me now, because it not only involves technical skills but also dealing with people.


Show don't tell.

“The more you talk about it, rehash it, rethink it, cross analyze it, debate it, respond to it, get paranoid about it, compete with it, complain about it, immortalize it, cry over it, kick it, defame it, stalk it, gossip about it, pray over it, put it down or dissect its motives it continues to rot in your brain. It is dead. It is over. It is gone. It is done. It is time to bury it because it is smelling up your life and no one wants to be near your rotted corpse of memories and decaying attitude. Be the funeral director of your life and bury that thing!”
Shannon L. Alder

I don't need to mention that do things is better than the complaint, right? Do stuff it's basically the core of a designer. If you don't understand that I'm sorry for you. Better than discuss, think, debate, argument or be static about a thing, is to show how it's done.



What matters the most is the process of how you tackle problems using a variety of skills and the challenges that you've settled to yourself. Therefore, through pain and struggle you smoothly achieve professional enlightenment.

That's all my friends! I hope to see some comments here.