Designer-Entrepreneurs inspire creatives to 'do more of what you love' at RGD's Future By Design


Creatives gathered at locations across Canada to take part in a lively discussion of Designers as Entrepreneurs for RGD's latest Future By Design. Panelists presented to 11 cities in 3 provinces explaining the skills and knowledge needed to start a business and what motivated their decisions to go out on their own. 

Illustrator and Type Designer Jessica Hische, Co-founder of Draplin Design Co., Aaron Draplin, Designer and Beekeeper Russell Gibbs RGD and owner of  Hark Ideas Inc. Gary Ludwig RGD connected via webcast from San Francisco, Portland and Toronto to share their experiences and insights as designers-turned-business owners. 

Gary kicked off the evening with an overview of his personal history as 'a guy who started his own business', his reasons for doing it, and the knowledge he found valuable in the process: problem-solving, design thinking and strategic planning. 



Russell, Aaron and Jessica each shared their reasons for focusing their creative energy on entrepreneurial endeavours, which ranged from the legacy of a family bee-keeping business, a desire to make money and a desire to make random things and make your own schedule. 





"Amazing! Wonderful! Funny! Delightful! Informative! and even educational!!! The students loved it!" - Ray Fennelly, Graphic Arts Instructor at the College of the North Atlantic, St Johns Newfoundland


"Our students were enormously entertained by Aaron Draplin and very interested in Jessica's story. Personally I was inspired to know that a designer can do anything – even keep bees! All were inspiring." - Judy Snaydon, IDEA Program Instructor at Capilano University, Vancouver BC


Future by Design was motivating, inspiring and insightful. Also chock full of swearing, which was awesome. I like to keep it casual." - Jayla Mortensen, attendee at The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto 



Top 10 insights from the event:  

  1. "The projects you do are the projects you're going to continue to do." - Gary Ludwig RGD
  2. "When a project is yours, you feel a lot more ownership over it - it's not just something belonging to the client that you happen to be working on." - Jessica Hische
  3. "Being a designer and a product maker, you get to be a part of the whole process." - Russell Gibbs RGD 
  4. "You can love what you do, work with people you love and make a s#!tload of money." - Aaron Draplin
  5. "Procrastiworking is the work I do when I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing. It's the work you do that fills a void for yourself, and often that's what turns you into an entrepreneur." - Jessica Hische
  6. "When you start your own business, you need to start taking your own advice. - What is my brand? What is my unique selling point? The stuff we tell our clients to figure out is harder than you think." - Gary Ludwig RGD 
  7. "Before I was making money doing it, this was a hobby. And I still think about it that way. I can invent things for myself, things that I enjoy and other people can enjoy, and it's not just about the bottom line. It's fun." - Aaron Draplin 
  8. "We're in a unique position where we can do what we love without having to retire." - Jessica Hische  
  9. "When you come up with an idea, you can just go for it. I've done some pretty random stuff." - Russell Gibbs RGD
  10. "I can celebrate my own victories, because they're my victories. I'm 100% in charge of my own failures and successes. It's pretty great being in control of your own happiness." - Jessica Hische


Thank you to Daniel Kim Prov RGD for his photos from Toronto. View the full set on RGD's Flickr page


For more discussion from Future By Design: Designers as Entrepreneurs search the hash tag #rgdFBD on Twitter.  


Our next Future By Design will be on February 4th. Contact to find out how to participate.