RGD's top 10 highlights of 2016 (and 10 things to look forward to in 2017)
We're celebrating all that the Association has accomplished in 2016, and looking ahead to exciting opportunities for the coming year. 


RGD Accomplishments in 2016


1. Videos highlighting the value of design in business

DesignThinker of the Year Award-winners for 2016, President and CEO of Tangerine Bank Peter Aceto and CEO and Co-Founder of Beau's All Natural Brewing Company Steve Beauchesne, were profiled in videos produced by RGD Video Production Partner MediaFace.  


DesignThinker of the Year - Award Winner 2016 from RGD on Vimeo.


DesignThinker of the Year - Award Winner 2016 from RGD on YouTube.


2. Fee, Free, Flee Initiative 

Inspired by Jessica Hische's 'Should I Work For Free' flow chart, the RGD Ethics Committee developed an interactive tool based on RGD's Rules of Professional Conduct to help designers understand and address a variety of scenarios in which they might be asked to work for free. (Interactive Design by Nascent Digital).  


3. New RGD Branding 

RGD rolled out new branding for the Association, which appears on the RGD website and in the intro animation for RGD's video content. Written by Communications Strategist Doug Dolan, the new brand statement represents all aspects of what RGD offers to our Members and the Canadian design community: Through RGD, Canadian designers exchange ideas, educate and inspire, set professional standards and build a strong, supportive community dedicated to advocating for the value of design.


4. Record-breaking attendance at DesignThinkers 9th year in a row!

With 2,100 participants over four days of activities, the 17th annual DesignThinkers Conference was the largest gathering of creative professionals RGD has ever hosted. Highlights included the 'Design Confessions' theme by Deloitte, the fantastically 'fjun' delegate party sponsored by Fjord, and social media engagement with our hashtag #rgdDT which trended across Canada on Twitter and reached nearly 3,000 posts on Instagram. 


5. On-going Virtual Programming 

RGD continues to offer opportunities for designers across Canada to access professional development through our ongoing webinar program and Future By Design panel discussions. For the first time, we also offered live webcasting of DesignThinkers presentations as well as recordings that are available for Members in the Members-only section of the RGD website.


6. Creative Earners National Survey

Since 2001, RGD has produced a bi-annual salary survey to provide insight into financial trends in the creative communications sector in Canada, offering a summary of the current state of the industry and those working within it - job titles, services, how they define their profession and what trends are shaping the future of their roles. In 2016, RGD collaborated with Creative Niche and the Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) to produce a comprehensive report, which will be available soon at creativeearners.ca


7. RGD Membership Growth and Benefits

In 2016, RGD's Membership has grown to over 3,500, including an impressive 1,950 Student RGDs, the future of the profession. In addition to the many programs and services offered to Members as well as the opportunities to network and feel a part of a community, RGD partnered with a variety of suppliers to offer tangible benefits including discounts and special offers from .design; HotelStorm; StickerYou; VIARail; and Umbra.


8. By-law Updates 

A new By-Law ratified at RGD's 2016 Annual General Meeting officially consolidated all of our by-law amendments over the last 20 years and included new processes to increase participation from Members in the governance of the Association outside the GTA. At future elections, the two nominees who reside more than 100 km outside of the GTA with the highest number of votes will be elected to the Board. Term limits were also set so that any Board Member who has served six years will need to take off at least one year before they are eligible to run again. The call for nominations for 2017 is now open for any eligible Certified RGDs interested in putting forward their names or those of their colleagues. 


9. Record-breaking Submissions for Student Awards 

With 330 entrants from 39 schools across Canada, 2016 saw the highest participation yet in RGD's annual Student Awards program. Sponsors from across Canada donated a total of $23,000 in cash awards, which was awarded to winners across regional and specialty categories. Winners were selected by a panel of over 100 judges and will be profiled in a printed catalogue distributed to 5,000 in early 2017. 


10. Increased programming / resources for In-House Designers

Our first-ever In-House Design Awards were a great success with over 200 submissions received. Our 2016 Awards Annual, designed by the in-house creative team at Capital One, featuring 42 winning projects will be distributed to RGD professional Members early in the new year. RGD will continue to offer programs for in-house designers. Upcoming webinars will cover working as a designer within government and the challenges of in-house solo designers. We will also present the In-house Design Awards program in 2017.


In-House Design Awards 2016 from RGD on Vimeo.


Looking Ahead to 2017


1. Creative Directions Conference

On March 4, 2017 at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, RGD hosts its annual Creative Directions Conference with informative presentations, lively panel discussions and numerous networking opportunities. Learn how to package, polish, promote and profit from your talents and learn skills to build a long and successful career. With new branding for the event by Russell Gibbs Design, this event is now free for Certified RGD Members.


2. Increased programming / resources for Educators 

RGD recently published a PDF of the 2015 Design Educator Conference Proceedings on the theme 'Transformation', considering how design and design education are transformative processes and how design education itself is in a state of continual transformation. Proceedings for the 2016 Design Educator Conference will be released in the new year. We'll also launch a new program for educators in 2017 with open curriculum on accessible design, ethical issues and more (details coming soon!). We also look forward to sharing more educator-focused webinars.


3. DesignThinkers in Vancouver 

After 17 years of hosting DesignThinkers in Toronto, we'll be exploring new territory with the 18th annual conference taking place in Vancouver, May 30-31. Speakers include VPs of Design Maria Guidice (Autodesk), Alex Schliefer (Airbnb) and Cap Watkins (Buzzfeed); noted designers Vince Frost, Timothy Goodman and Dana Tanamachi, and the Editor-in-Chief of Wired, Scott Dadich.


4. Continuted Collaboration with GDC 

In 2016, RGD partnered with the GDC on our Creative Earners National Survey and invited GDC's President to attend DesignThinkers in November. During the conference, RGD's President, Stussy Tschudin, and Executive Director, Hilary Ashworth, met with him to discuss future collaboration between our two organizations, starting with DesignThinkers Vancouver. We look forward to engaging in many more conversations in the new year and identifying many other ways that RGD and the GDC can work together to serve our industry.


“As President of GDC, I am proud to be working closely with RGD this year to combine our resources and advocacy outreach to benefit not only our collective members, but all designers in Canada. We look forward to a future of working together, for our industry and community.” Jonathon Vaughn Strebly CGD, President, Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC)


5. More Initiatives / resources for emerging designers

RGD offers support for emerging designers through partnerships, professional development and networking opportunities. Initiatives launched in 2016 included a new RGD Book Club, access to Tuition Scholarships from RED Academy and Bitmaker and a new version of our Mentorship Program. Much more is planned in the coming year.



6. DesignThinkers at World Design Summit in Montreal 

In October 2017, DesignThinkers will be joining the World Design Summit in Montreal, with specially-priced tickets available to DT delegates to attend both events. We are excited to be part of this international event, which will include a design innovation expo and hundreds of sessions spanning six design disciplines. 



7. More local programming

With the launch of an initiative by RGD to fund local events in 2016, RGD plans to expand its support and help organize local gatherings including offering documentary screenings, social events and professional development in 2017.


8. More opportunities for showcasing design work online

With nearly 14,000 followers across our social media channels, 17,000 newsletter subscribers and an average of 1,000 visits to our website each day, RGD provides an important platform for elevating and inspiring the design community. In 2017, we look forward to sharing more work from our Members through case studies and project showcases, highlighting design accomplishments with coverage of announcements and awards and inspiring creativity with work from DesignThinkers speakers past and present. 



9. Continued advocacy and development of resources related to the issue of spec work

RGD continues to work on identifying examples of design contests gone bad and success stories for projects done right, to help educate people on the problematic nature of spec work. In 2017, we will work on producing new guidelines to help clients invite community involvement in the design process in ways that do not involve spec contests.  


10. Design at Work Poster Series 

Our new Design at Work poster series raises awareness about the business value of graphic design by presenting examples of work being done in local communities. RGD Members from Kingston, Kitchener, London, Markham, Ottawa and Sudbury have their work featured on posters which are being distributed to local business and posted in public spaces. More promotion and additional posters are planned in 2017.



For more information on any of the upcoming and ongoing initiatives listed above, email