Creative Directions Conference
2016 Creative Directions

Career Development for Emerging Creative Professionals


Creative Directions connects you with employers, provides constructive feedback on your work and helps you to establish and grow a rewarding career within the creative industries.


Creative Directions 2017 will take place on Saturday, March 4 at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. A day of Studio Tours will take place on Friday, March 3.


  • Creative Directions 2016 Greenmelon Inc. Scholarship Winner Report

    Sarah Dowling Student RGD shares her experiences at the 2016 Creative Directions Conference.

    I arrived at the 2016 Creative Directions Conference with the question, “where do I fit in the design industry?” My goal, therefore, was to leave with some insights to lead me on a clearer path to specializing my work. Specifically, I was hoping to obtain a better understanding of the connections found in three main areas—my design education, personal experiences and the advice and insights of industry professionals. Between the studio tours, the mentoring sessions and pecha kucha presentations, I felt that I was well on my way to achieving these goals.


    The Studio Tours were structured so that each studio was able to provide hands-on insights into their operations and creative processes, work focus and span. They also opened the floor to any questions, which I certainly took advantage of! As someone living and learning outside of Toronto while considering a career in the Toronto area, I found the tours very helpful in providing a better understanding of what I should expect and what I would like to look for in my future workplace.


    The roundtable Process Workshops were a great opportunity to get a feel for real projects in specific areas of the design industry from conception to completion and all the other factors that occur in between. The wide variety of projects allowed for a better understanding about areas of which I was less familiar, and inspired an even stronger interest in design areas I previously hoped to pursue in my future career. I gained many great resources as well networking was less intimidating in the smaller groups. I will definitely look for similar opportunities in the future; I highly recommend these!


    Finally, the pecha kucha-style presentations in the final session tied everything together for me. They were a great way to end the conference, by allowing me to bring together and expand on those three puzzle pieces I had entered the conference with. To summarize the main points I took from this last session:

    • Speak up. Asking for help is ok; you need to actively look for the answers to your questions to get to where you want to be.
    • Never get too comfortable because it hinders your learning. Don’t be afraid to fail.
    • Those connections you make (personal, mental, networking) will help you to develop your personal and professional self.
    • Finding your passion can be difficult, but make sure you stay active and balanced in your other personal interests because every skill is useful.
    I want to say a big thank you to both Greenmelon Inc. and RGD for making my experience at the conference so successful!
  • Creative Directions 2016 Greenmelon Inc. Scholarship Winner Report

    Sage Mosurinjohn Student RGD shares her experiences at the 2016 Creative Directions Conference.

    I was so happy to have the opportunity to attend this year’s Creative Directions conference. It was my first time participating in any RGD event and it was truly an eye-opening experience. I can honestly say I learned something new from each panel and presentation!


    The first day of the conference was filled with interesting studio tours. It was great to be able to walk in and see a bustling design studio at work. Everyone was so positive and welcoming; it really felt like we were part of the RGD community!


    The first session I attended at the conference was “How to Build the Perfect Portfolio”. The panelists went over everything from how to present your work to what employers look for in an applicant’s portfolio. One of the best pieces of advice that all panelists repeated was not to apologize for your work. As young designers it so easy to feel like your work is inadequate or that it could be better if only you had more time, but presenting your portfolio with confidence is much more important. Another takeaway was the importance of explaining the design challenges and solutions of your piece instead of just describing the work. I used this approach in the portfolio reviews later that day, and found it was so much easier to present my work with confidence this way.


    The portfolio reviews were also a really great (although nerve-wracking!) experience. The reviewers were positive but provided great feedback on things to change or improve in my portfolio. As a second-year student, I have not had the opportunity to show my portfolio before, and  presenting to three industry professionals provided an absolutely immeasurable boost to my presenting abilities.


    The “How to Survive Critique” panel was another wonderful learning experience, full of helpful tips for emerging designers. The panelists shared stories about their best and worst portfolio reviews when they were junior designers and what they learned from those experiences. They all agreed that you can’t let one bad review change your career path. An important note was to remember that you are not your work, your work is a time capsule product of you. Embrace critique and know that each piece of feedback is meant to make your work stronger!


    One of my favourite speakers from the conference was Vincent Galante RGD. He spoke about the importance of a work-life balance. He said, “being a designer is not what you do. It’s who you are.” By that, he meant that as a designer, you will find a way to be a designer in every aspect of your life. He also said, “tenacity is more important than talent.” He said that the best designers have failed more than the worst designers because they keep putting themselves out there, trying new things and embracing uncertainty. As Vinceent said, “sometimes great work has to start out like crap!”


    I want to thank Greenmelon Inc. for providing the scholarship and the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful event. It is so great that a local design studio in Ottawa supports emerging designers!