By Nicola Hamilton Prov RGD, Provisional Committee Co-Chair
On June 23 RGD's Provisional Committee hosted the third Design Social event of 2015 at Toronto’s No One Writes to the Colonel with Creative Director of ClarkHuot Scott Christie RGD and Mark Neil Balson RGD. The event series provides opportunities for young designers to sit down with established Registered Graphic Designers and engage in casual conversation about the industry, covering everything from industry trends to potential career paths.
The format of the event allows all attendees the chance to hear from both RGD guests, splitting the group in half to sit down for an unscripted conversation. Guests switch tables halfway through the evening to begin a new discussion with the other half of the group.
Scott Christie RGD
Scott brought 25 years of branding experience to the table. He is currently Creative Director at ClarkHuot but spent a good portion of his career building his own studios: Pylon and later Christie-Stewart. He is a past RGD Director, past ADCC President and part-time faculty member at Humber College.
Discussions with Scott centred around the business of design, going out on your own, pitching to clients and getting started. He urged recent grads to get out there and socialize with colleagues and the larger design community, emphasizing that people will remember your personality more than anything else.
When asked what excites him most about design, Scott talked about needing a challenge or a problem to solve. He shared his thoughts on Canadian branding—that there aren’t any great Canadian logos—and spoke about his love of reading, which he pointed to as the biggest positive influence on his career. Though he couldn’t remember his number one, career-changing title at the time, he later tweeted us a photo of Creating the Perfect Design Brief: How to Manage Design for Strategic Advantage by Peter L. Phillips.
Mark Neil Balson RGD
Mark is a freelance designer. He recently wrapped up a nine month stint in Spain, working at Design by Atlas under Astrid Stavro and Pablo Martin. Prior to his international adventure, he worked in-house at the University of Toronto and was a Lead Designer at Inorbital.
Mark emphasized working hard and taking chances. Discussions centred around his time in Spain—he left a comfortable job, one week in to his marriage and moved overseas to work for someone he really admired. For a position he received over Twitter! He urged everyone to break out of their comfort zones and be open to learning new things, no matter your experience level. He also provided practical advice about the barriers to working abroad, sharing a breakdown of work permits and other considerations.
On the topic of finding your way in this industry, Mark referenced an Ira Glass quote that every young designer should know:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff; it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good; it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Thank you to both Mark and Scott for taking part in the event and sharing your experience and advice. The RGD Provisional Committee will be hosting another Toronto Design Social soon, stay tuned for details!