World-renowned creatives speak the truth at the second annual DesignThinkers Conference in Vancouver

Photos by Rick Etkin and Rob Shear

Over 700 creatives gathered in Vancouver at the DesignThinkers Conference on May 29 and 30, 2018 to listen to world-renowned designers talk honestly and openly about the creative industry.


Led by the theme of “Speak the Truth,” speakers discussed the need for diversity in the design community, the rise of artificial intelligence, how design can support Indigenous reconciliation in Canada and much more.


Day 1 opened with an inspiring kick in the pants from Meg Lewis, who challenged delegates to think about what fuels them and discover what makes them and their work unique. Throughout the day, delegates listened to in-depth talks from Michael Lejeune, Pia Betton, Sebastian Padilla, Randy Hunt, Ellen Lupton, Aaron Draplin and Gemma O’Brien. Ranging from funny to factual, the talks uncovered the term ‘Design Thinking’ and what makes a design complete, among many other things.


A man with a beard and a green hat is standing at a podium, talking. On the screen behind him is a photo of men in suits with sunglasses on.
















A woman stands on a stage wearing all black and bright blue boots. She has blonde hair and light skin. There is a screen behind her that says I\'m not you and that\'s cool too!



















Featuring another stellar lineup, Day 2 began with a keynote by Stephen Gates, who talked about how we can be contributing, honest designers who encourage others and aren’t afraid to fail. Talks throughout the rest of the day were led by Forest Young, Grace Hwang, Krys Blackwood, Bob Hambly RGD, Samantha Warren and Josh Higgins. Topics were just as varied as the day before, covering how to design for behaviour change, how to change a UX so that your client and user are happy and more.


A Black man wearing a green sweater, dark pants, colourful socks, and gold shoes is on stage with his arms behind him. There is a screen behind him with an image of men walking a long a crosswalk.















An image of a Korean woman standing in front of a podium, speaking. Behind her there is a screen with three images on it; all of the images have different designs and they say cold turkey is a myth.





















Lightning Talks, which are 10-minute sessions delivered by distinguished Vancouver-based designers, were interspersed throughout the longer sessions. Ian Grais CGD, Vida Jurcic, Carson Ting, Angele Beausoleil, Greg Durrell, Judy Snaydon and Angela Bains all offered their superb insights into the design industry.


Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes and Aritzia CEO Brian Hill were also presented with DesignThinker of the Year Awards at the DesignThinkers Conference. DesignThinker of the Year is awarded to Canadian chief executives who have incorporated design and design thinking into their organizations to achieve business objectives and drive innovation.


Two men and a woman sit in chairs, having a conversation, on a stage. One man has his arms held slightly in the air. The other man and women are listening intently.


















In addition to listening to the talks, delegates were able to meet and have books signed by Aaron Draplin, Ellen Lupton and Bob Hambly RGD. Delegates were also able to take part in Networking Sessions, Speaker Q&As and the food and fun-filled Delegate Party! The Designer Marketplace was also available to delegates both days, which featured networking opportunities with graphic design and communications companies.


Lots of people sit in a room at various tables, talking.


















DesignThinkers Vancouver 2018 ended on a high note with the RGD So(cial) Good Awards Ceremony and Exhibit. These awards celebrate graphic design projects from around the world done under the theme of communication design for social good.


Delegates were invited to share their thoughts and musings throughout the conference on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #rgdDT. Here are a few highlights:


A tweet with a photo of a woman on a stage with a screen behind her. The screen has a green, flowery image on it and the word Nice is in the middle.





















A tweet with a photo of a man on a stage. Behind the man is a quote on a screen that says We treat design like it is art but it needs to answer for more





















A tweet with images of different speakers. The speakers are far away and on stage in each image.

A tweet with a few images of a man on a stage with a blue screen behind him. There are words on the screen.


A tweet that says @sdgates just justified my ticket to #rgdDT.





A tweet that says Grace Hwang from @CarrotSense is the new design hero I aspire to be. #rgddt @RGD @GDCNational





































Two blonde women standing beside a man with a beard and a green hat. They are smiling and he has his arm around them.














A person wearing a yellow sweater is standing in front of a table. A woman with blonde, curly hair is sitting at the table, signing a book.















A large group of people pose on a stage with the words speak the truth behind them.


















A photo of a person\'s feet and calves, with their hand in the forefront. Their hand is holding two pieces of paper. They are standing on a sidewalk.



































Thank you to all of our Conference partners:

Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC)


MET Fine Printers

The Pixel Shop



And to our 2018 Conference design partner Zulu Alpha Kilo for the incredible 'Speak the Truth' branding that helped pull the Conference together...

Read more about it here.




Thank you to Rick Etkin and Rob Shaer for capturing the Conference; view all photos from DesignThinkers Vancouver 2018 here.


RGD members will have access to recordings of all of the talks in the Members Only section once they are uploaded.