What’s it like being a Senior Graphic Designer?

Carina Wankmüller | Hands & Minds

For Senior Graphic Designer Carina Wankmüller, graphic design has a clear purpose: moving you to desire one brand over all others.

What do you do as a Senior Graphic Designer?

I create visual concepts for brands. From redesigning existing brands to launching new ones from scratch.

Often the starting point is the work of KISKA’s Brand Consulting and Research teams, who are our eyes and ears in the field. But I’ll also do my own research to gain a deeper understanding of the client’s business, product, users, and competitors. It all helps me understand how to best differentiate a brand and make it stand out.

Then it’s collaboration time, because every job requires bringing people together from across KISKA. I like to think of each project team as a “festival of creativity” made up of visual artists, word virtuosos, savvy strategists, passionate filmmakers, mobility experts, digital natives, hands-on prototypers, visionary art directors, and more. We kick-off the design process together, but the first thing I do is build a mood board, which includes references for photo style, logos, colours, and typography. I use mood boards to establish a brand’s look and feel, and once the team has settled on something, I design and refine layouts for different media. Like websites, stationery, packaging, folders, ads…the list goes on.

Projects typically finish with a style sheet that documents corporate design elements and guidelines. This helps the client understand their brand’s essence and lays the groundwork for future implementation. 

Describe your day-to-day work.

First and foremost, I use images and words to create graphic layouts, and to do this a lot of time is spent aligning with the team, or in reviews, or implementing feedback from colleagues and clients. I also make a lot of presentations and support project managers with timing, phases, and resources.

It’s also important that I share my know-how with junior designers and keep things social in the team. Between big projects and smaller tasks we spend the day chatting about design, biking, and music. 

How would you describe your team dynamic and how you work with KISKA clients?

We have great team spirit. And when I say “we”, I’m referring to the typography nerd and corporate design champ, the bike-riding art director, the ambitious juniors, the hilarious project manager, and – of course – me.

The high talent level of each person creates a healthy competitive environment, so we support each other while finding better solutions together. In short, we encourage each other with our individual skills.

On the client side, we get a feel for their personality and area of responsibility in briefings and kick-offs at the start of a project. We might even go to their company for a tour. It’s always good to meet, because you find out to whom you’re presenting and get firsthand answers for your questions. Touchpoints exist in every phase though, often in the form of presentations, where there’s room for feedback and co-creation.

What’s the best thing about your job? And, the most challenging?

Surely the best thing is being surrounded by kind-hearted people with an infectious amount of creativity. Everyone is a mentor in their own way. I also love diving into new topics and getting insights about industries, trends, and new technology. I don’t cultivate this much in my personal life, so it’s wonderful to do so at work.

In terms of challenge, the start of a project can be daunting because you must come up with a well-founded direction. The classic (and dreadful) blank piece of paper! When you overcome this however, it feels great. Especially when you build a solid vision for a brand by using resources effectively. Like guiding juniors so they can tap into fresh approaches, all while bringing together input from copywriters, strategists, and account managers. After all that work, you can imagine how rewarding it is to receive positive feedback from the client!

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