New & Noteworthy

Graphic Design Program Hosts AKQA Creative Director Sarah Lockwood

October 5, 2020


Sarah Lockwood, AKQA Creative Director with more than 11 years of industry experience, shares 12 things she learned along her journey from an FSU student to the creative director of a Fortune 100 client at AKQA.

AKQAs Creative Director with more than 11 years of industry experience, Sarah Lockwood leads a creative team of visual, UX, and motion designers, strategists, business analysts, product managers, copywriters, content strategists, client business, and IT development teams. She inspires her teams to imagine and create a better future through the creative application of art and science.

After working for a year as a designer at People Design in Grand Rapids, MI, Lockwood has spent the past ten years at AKQA in Washington, DC and Atlanta, GA developing her unique brand of creative leadership, user experience design, visual design, business and content strategy, and holistic creative direction of global digital ecosystems that span across all of a company’s digital channels and customer journeys. Throughout her career, she has worked as a

designer, UX designer, senior UX designer, UX director, associate creative director, and creative director. She’s helped invent, create, design, and launch work for clients recognized worldwide, including Delta Air Lines, World Wildlife Fund, USPS, Ubisoft, Verizon Wireless, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, HON Furniture, and more.

Lockwood was invited to speak to current graphic design program students on September 24th via Zoom. A 2009 Ferris State University Graphic Design program alumna, she shared 12 things she learned along her journey from recent college graduate to the Creative Director for a Fortune 100 client of AKQA. Lockwood shared these lessons with students that she has learned during her career:

Year 1: Be hungry, thoughtful, and patient.
Year 2: It’s okay to try something new.
Year 3: Earn apprenticeship.
Year 4: Be consistent AF.
Year 5: Establish depth and expand breadth.
Year 6: Hard work pays off.
Year 7: Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Year 8: Get out of your comfort zone.
Year 9: Learn to lead.
Year 10: Learn how to delegate.
Year 11: Growing pains are real.
Year 12: Even state of mind.

Students were pleased to hear from a speaker with so much knowledge to share. Ngan Tang, a junior in the Design program, noted that Lockwood emphasized “that teamwork is one of the most important skill that a designer needs to have.” Group projects are a cornerstone of the program and help prepare students to participate as an effective team asset in their career. Learning to appreciate and apply criticism was another point of Lockwood’s lecture and Jax Palmer, Jjunior, mentioned that they enjoyed hearing how Lockwood handled criticism and said, “Instead of getting defensive, she took that feedback to become a better person and didn’t take it as something to hold her back when moving forward in the field.”

The Design Program at Ferris State University uniquely prepares its students through a rigorous curriculum focused on creative problem solving and business thinking within a design context. Students in the program enter the workforce with know-how that only authentic client interactions and critical-thinking mindsets can provide. One of program’s instructors and coordinator of the lecture, Alison Popp, was glad students had the opportunity to learn from the lessons Lockwood shared and mentioned, “We are so grateful to Sarah for sharing her story. She credited her Ferris Design Program education as a strong base for her high performance in the field. Not only that, but she learned the soft skills necessary to design a successful life.”

The students of the Design Program learn and grow through experiences and opportunities beyond what could ever be taught in the classroom. Lectures like the one delivered by Sarah Lockwood are part of what makes the program a unique, enriching education that prepares designers for the realities of a career in the industry and a life as an educated, informed, and involved global citizen.  To learn more about the Design Program, check out their page and schedule a visit at