Student Awards judges reflect on the value of the program
After receiving more than 640 projects from 265 students around the country, our line-up of 75 judges have begun reviewing and scoring the projects. 


Winners will receive up to two $1000 cash awards, have their winning project featured in the annual booklet, and be recognized on the RGD website. All finalists in each category will also receive feedback from the judges. Winners will be notified by end of August 2017!


In the meantime, we've asked the following judges to share their thoughts on the program and on their experience reviewing and judging the projects this year.

Nico Taus RGD, Creative Director, Studio123, Sudbury 

Scott Weisbrod, Group Service Design Director and Studio Head, Fjord, Toronto

Randal Boutilier RGD, Principal, 12thirteen Design Inc., Toronto

Paul Jurkovic RGD, Creative Director, UX & Design, Momentum Digital Solutions, Toronto

Karen Satok RGD, Partner, Sputnik Design Partners Inc., Toronto

Michael Ortelli RGD, Founder, BOLD, Toronto

Andrew Merriam, Director of Business Development, Top Level Design, Portland


What attracted you to participate as a judge?

"As an agency we're constantly keeping our finger on the pulse of the industry, and as an employer I keep my eye on who's doing what, who's breaking the rules and who’s doing things differently. Judging is a great opportunity to find emerging talent." – Nico Taus RGD

"Judging the work of up-and-coming talent is a rewarding experience. It's a special opportunity to encourage and engage the next generation of talent. And it's an easy way to give back to a community that has given me so much personally since I was a student." – Scott Weisbrod

"I think it’s important for the design community to cross paths and engage in discussing one another’s work. Judging opportunities like these allow me to broaden my perspective on the current state of design work and how it’s ‘sold’ or explained. These are great things to have in mind when it comes time to hire new design talent, as it offers me a means of comparison through a tangible experience. The judging process is also an opportunity for me to test my own design evaluation skills. Oftentimes, I myself am not aware of how I judge design work – I question whether I’m being too difficult, too easy, or too out-of-touch. Being able to share my thoughts and scores with a panel enabled me to see how I stack up as an evaluator – an immeasurable benefit to my career development!" – Randal Boutilier RGD

"It's important to the career development of any new designer to receive constructive feedback on their work often and from as many sources as they can. It builds confidence and opens our eyes to things we may not have considered. Not everyone will enjoy the benefits of a collaborative culture or mentorship program when they first enter the workforce, which makes it that much more difficult to grow and develop their craft. My hope is that one day, these designers will recognize the value of what they experienced and choose to pay it forward by helping others trying to make their mark. Our industry benefits greatly from a community spirit built on supporting one another and sharing experiences." – Paul Jurkovic RGD


What are your thoughts about the projects and the program in general?

"I liked seeing students project themselves and their career path. Some students were clearly trying to create a personal brand and I'm wholly impressed by that. Other portfolios were more in line with freelancing or in house work and less about themselves and more about the portfolio. There is no right answer but it's fun to see students imagining a potential career path at the outset." – Andrew Merriam

"Accessibility in graphic design is slowly but steadily becoming recognized as an important criteria for the success of a design solution, but there is still a long way to go until we get to the point where designers intuitively make choices that promote higher levels of usability for everyone. Programs like this one tell students that accessibility can be rewarded and awarded, as they will discover when they begin working in the real world." – Michael Ortelli RGD

"Participating in the RGD Student Awards is an incredibly important experience for emerging designers. It helps them look at their work critically, articulate their process and demonstrate good design thinking – all crucial parts of being a working designer. And then there are the award prizes, which are plentiful!" – Karen Satok RGD

"Overall, the submissions were quite strong. When I looked at the scores from each judge, our individual responses were pretty much in alignment with one another – showing to me that strong design appeals to people across a range of experiences. I applaud those who participated - it’s a brave thing to put your work out in the open for judging. In the area of self-promotion and personal websites, a critique can sometimes be taken personally rather than professionally. These opportunities that RGD puts forth for its membership is very valuable, and my hope is that the feedback that has been received helps propel their career and their work forward." – Randal Boutilier RGD


Why did you agree to sponsor an award for the program?
"BOLD is design agency that likely has more accessibility experience than most, simply because we’ve been doing it right from the very start when the Government of Ontario passed its first accessibility legislation. We think about accessibility every time we make a design choice, whether print or digital, so sponsoring this program was a natural fit for us." - Michael Ortelli RGD


"Giving back to the community has always been important to Studio123. Community gives us a sense of place, the opportunity to connect, to improve, to grow as individuals. We have had many people help us in the beginning of our journey, so if our financial contribution can help a deserving designer get to the next stage in their career, then we’re simply paying that love forward." - Nico Taus RGD


"It's important to give back to the community and create forums for talent to shine. We want to raise people up and give them a platform to showcase their success. We want students and the industry to know that Fjord is a supporter and nurturer of this goal. Many thanks to RGD for working with us to establish this award." - Scott Weisbrod


"We at .design are excited by the amount of .design domains that have been registered by the RGD community - over 10% of the RGD community now has a .design domain. We not only want to support RGD but to show students exactly how easy it is to get off the side lines, the biggest obstacle is getting started." - Andrew Merriam