Graduate stories: Samuel the graphic designer

A man sketching on the grass looking off to the camera

Samuel has always loved design and has had a very successful career back in Nigeria. Since moving to the UK to study our MA Visual Communications, he has thrown himself into the UK design culture. Now working at the internationally-renowned marketing agency McCann, he is one step closer to achieving his dream of becoming a Creative Director in the UK. 

A man sat on a wall looking off camera to the left sketching

Career in Nigeria

I always knew I wanted to lead a creative life, but it took me a while to realise that people would pay for my creativity and designs. As a child, I would create comic book strips and I think my love for graphic design grew from there. When I was deciding on my bachelor’s degree, my family were trying to pull me in different directions, to study law or architecture for example but I knew that fine art was the program for me.  

Once I graduated, I started work as a Graphic Designer in the advertising sector and was promoted quickly to Art Director, and then I worked my way up to Associate Creative Director. My last role in Nigeria before coming to Salford was as Head of Creative Services at a retail bank. This role changed my view on design and I realised that I wanted to complete a master’s to build my visual communication skills. When I saw the program name, MA Visual Communications, I knew this was the next step in my journey.   

Studying at Salford

Design can be quite a broad field especially when you reach Art Director level. However, during the course, we were pushed to think about the areas we were strongest in and work to specialise in them. The course also helped me to think more strategically and design for a commercial purpose whilst making sure every design decision was backed up by research.  

During the course, I also had the opportunity to help six art galleries with a rebrand. Each gallery had a slightly different look and feel so I had to make sure my designs were in keeping. The galleries were thrilled with the design. Not only did it help to build my portfolio, but it also gave me experience in working in the UK market which employers often look for. 

Career since graduating

I began working for Audacious, a church group with six locations across the UK and Europe. I helped them with their rebrand and created designs for their services and conferences. Whilst I enjoyed this role, my real passion lies in advertising, so I knew this was the area I wanted to break into.  

I identified four agencies that I wanted to work for and constantly checked their websites for new jobs to apply for. I wasn’t going to stop applying until I was accepted. Eventually, I got a job as a Graphic Designer for the international advertising agency, McCann, which has offices in 120 countries worldwide. Our clients include Audi, Aldi, Matalan, Kayak and many other household names. In this role, my main responsibility is presentation design, focusing on creating client briefs and pitches for new business. This is a fantastic role and is a great step towards my ultimate aim. 

My creative network

There are seven McCann offices in the UK, and this has allowed me to build a creative network. This network has helped me to become a better designer as there is always someone to discuss my ideas with and suggest improvements.  

Whilst at Salford and since graduating, I have thrown myself into going to events, visiting new places and attending classes. This has helped me to build a support network here and find out more about British culture. Being a designer in Nigeria is very different to being one here in the UK, it has taken me a while to discover the nuances of British culture but by throwing myself into every opportunity I believe I have got myself up to speed quickly.  

My ambitions for the future

I would like to become a Creative Director here in the UK. It is a long-term goal as I know I still have a lot to learn about design in the UK, but I believe that I can get there, and I won’t stop until I do.