Graphic Designer and Production Artist at Patch Design, Elyse Maxwell RGD reflects on how RGD's DesignThinkers Conference has become a much anticipated annual tradition that challenges her to push the boundaries of design.
As a member of the Association of Registered Graphic Designers, I receive access to valuable resources and professional support all year long, but to me, the most exciting efforts of RGD are the 2 days each year I’ve come to affectionately call my personal “Design Christmas”.
Every year I spend two days immersed in a world of design without deadlines! I’m surrounded by my peers, and inspired by big thinkers from Canada and abroad.
I attended my first DesignThinkers conference in 2008. I was one year out of university and hungry to continue to learn whatever I could about design. I felt very lucky to have the chance to hear from experienced practitioners working in my chosen field at an event so close to home. By the end of the last keynote, I knew I had to come back the following year, and I have continued to attend each year ever since.
During the first few years I packed in as many sessions as I could that showcased the incredible work of designer rock stars who I admired greatly. As time went on I felt the pull of sessions that challenged me to think beyond the visual, raising questions about responsibility, and the designer’s role in shaping the future. Specifically, I was very excited when I had the opportunity to see Chip Kidd speak a few years ago as I’ve admired his work for a long time. Last year I found Debbie Millman to be incredible engaging and relatable. In 2015 I left feeling very inspired by Austin Kleon's presentation.
I anxiously await announcement of the next year’s lineup, and read the schedule over and over in an attempt to select the sessions that I think i can get the most out of, much like I scoured the Toys “R” Us catalogue as a child at Christmas.
Attending the conference is truly a gift that lasts. And if you’re asking “What’s Christmas without gifts?” (although, I hope not…) well, there’s always the bag of great swag to look forward to! Every year the swag has been different, and depends entirely if you get to the table early enough to get the good stuff, and which vendors you visit. The best and most memorable items been an issue of Uppercase Magazine, Umbra Products, and the report from the salary guide survey. To top it all off, I have a stack of notebooks filled with insights and quotes from some of the world’s greatest design and business minds.
To find out more about becoming a Registered Graphic Designer, click here.