DesignThinkers Scholarship Program sparks inspiration, confidence and 'next steps' for emerging designers
This past November, four $500 scholarships were awarded to emerging designers who expressed interest in attending DesignThinkers 2016 in Toronto. Sharing the conference experience with individuals who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend is part of RGD's effort to foster the career development of Student and Provisional RGD Members, encouraging exploration of what the industry has to offer, highlighting possible career paths and offering the chance to build connections with fellow designers. 


"It was so great to be a part of DesignThinkers again this year. The scholarships in particular allow us to share the days with deserving designers who might otherwise miss out. " - Barry Quinn RGD, Juniper Park/TBWA, Scholarship Sponsor. 


"Witnessing the incredible talent and enthusiasm of young designers from across Canada showcased in the video applications for the DesignThinkers Scholarship was inspiring! Brad's video really connected with us. It showcased his design skills and we loved the glimpses of his humor and style! Happy to participate in a program that supports emerging designers and offers them a chance to learn from the best in all areas of the discipline." - Celeste Mendonca, Glenn Davis Group, Scholarship Sponsor


Scholarship winners shared the following highlights from their  experiences: 


Students from Red River College: 

We attended as many sessions as possible. The seminars ranged from touching to hilarious, and with each speaker’s diverse philosophies and processes, every one of us left with a message, image or idea to take home.


One of our favourite presentations was from Emily Lessard. Emily showed the process of how a campaign came together, at once demystifying the evolution of full-scale campaigns and describing how even professionals can be overwhelmed by the daunting task ahead. This message was reassuring for young aspiring designers. We were also motivated by Lotta Nieminen’s inspiring story about how she came to find her niche. Lotta explained that, at the outset, you don’t necessarily know where you’ll end up, but if you play to your strengths you can find creative ways to solve a project with an existing skill set. Stefan Bucher, Erik Kessels and the lads from Snask had us all in stitches—and proved that anxiety, time spent on the toilet and even inappropriate pictures can be powerful sources of inspiration.


Perhaps most of all, a break from the doldrums of our usual schedule, an escape to a new environment and joining forces as a unit was liberating and has given us all the confidence and insight to see ourselves as not just design students but designers ready to leave our mark on the world.


Kyung Cho:

Two full days of DesignThinkers resulted in a lot of creative thinking. I began the experience with Studio Open Doors; I was very excited to see my favourite studios in Toronto. It was wonderful to see so many creative workplaces with different visions, cultures and creative approaches. Days two and three of the Conference were full of meaningful sessions. Erik Kessels’ talk was one of my favourites. He explained how he carefully selected and captured moments of art and curated them into his book, Failed It! His hilarious speech taught me a new way of presenting creative work. Meg Lewis’ talk was also brilliant. What it really meant to me is that when trying to define yourself as a graphic designer, sticking with your own unique personality is key! I often struggle with trying to push away my goofy personality, however, Meg’s message made me realize that you should trust yourself and follow your own artistic path.

For any students or professionals pursuing a career in Graphic Design, I would strongly encourage participating in DesignThinkers. It is sure to lead you to your next step, or at least awake enthusiasm! I really cannot wait for DesignThinkers 2017.

Brad Doyle:

My highlights include Erik Kockum and Fredrik Öst’s keynote presentation and Irene & Anton’s presentation.


Erik Kockum and Fredrik Öst’s talk focused on the idea that you must enjoy every part of your work and you must make every small or large engagement unique in its own way. For example, you could do a typical Creative Mornings talk, or you could add a twist by being in a bunny onesie and entering with a musical number. Their talk also drove home the point that your budget shouldn’t be a cap on your creativity; you have to be able to take a low budget project and spin it into a positive and strive to make something as unique as you can and not a negative which limits yourself and your creativity. In the end the talk was both entertaining and informative.

I didn’t have any idea what to expect for Irene & Anton’s talk. I showed up late to this particular talk, but that didn’t stop me from gaining some of the best insights of the entire conference. One of the first things I learned is just how important good design is in every part of the project including the stage of landing the project. Irene and Anton talked about how they ended up getting the Karim Rashid RFP - it depended on putting time into the design to stand out from the group. The biggest lesson I learned from this duo was simply “Fake it till you make it” - if you have drive and ambition and a willingness to learn, you can do anything you put your mind to, but staying in your comfort zone can be damaging in the long run for being a designer. I learned that riding the edge of your comfort zone is a safe way to constantly improve both your skill as a designer and your overall knowledge of the vast field that is being a graphic designer and design thinker.



Watch the winning application videos here: 

Brad Doyle Provisional RGD, Ottawa (Sponsored by Davis

Students from Red River College, Manitoba (Sponsored by Fusion Design Group

Kyung Cho Student RGD, George Brown College (Sponsored by john st.

Shogo Shimizu Student RGD, Algonquin College (Sponsored by Juniper Park