Montreal-based designer Ruth Farrugia RGD is the solo in-house graphic designer for the Communications Department of the City of Côte Saint-Luc in Montreal’s West End.
Q: How long have you been volunteering with RGD, and in what capacity?
I’ve been volunteering with RGD since December 2015, when I joined the fledgling Programs Committee, now known as the Events Committee. I was invited by Hilary Ashworth and Jesse Gibb (who was the Committee Chair at the time). Since then, I’ve compiled two curated lists of member videos for RGD’s website and hosted roundtable discussions at DesignThinkers 2018 TO and the first RGD In-House Design Conference. I’ve most recently been hosting a virtual roundtable discussion group made up of in-house designers for municipalities.
Q: What have you learned about the industry through your involvement with RGD?
Contributing to the virtual roundtable initiative has made me realize how important it is for designers to stay connected, especially those of us who are the sole designers in our organizations. RGD has given us a valuable opportunity to get to know each other and compare notes. We’ve seen how much we all have in common, even though we live and work in different cities and municipalities. The moral support is especially amazing. It’s great to feel you’re part of a larger community. As the initiative grows to include different design niches with their own virtual roundtables, I’m hoping this same feeling spreads to new groups.
Q: How would you describe the role of RGD in the design industry?
RGD not only promotes ethical design practice and advocacy, but it brings designers together and encourages us to up our game with programs like DesignThinkers (where I first discovered RGD) and more recently, the In-House Design Conference. It forges real connection between design professionals. For me personally, it’s a great opportunity to connect with other designers, especially since I’m the only designer in my department. RGD also helps me to run my side-gig freelance business more professionally by giving me the knowledge and tools I need.
Q: What can individual designers and/or organizations like RGD can be doing to further improve the industry?
As an industry we still have a ways to go to communicate our value to the public at large, even more so now that our field is often seen as only the sum total of the digital tools we use. As with many industries now, designers are being undervalued financially and are allocated less time and resources. We need to let the business world know that design and its practitioners are well worth investing in. I’m hoping that we continue on the road to merging the Canadian certification bodies: RGD, GDC and the SDGQ. There’s strength in numbers and pooling our resources.
Roundtable discussions at DesignThinkers Toronto 2018
Q: What have you gained from being an RGD volunteer, and why would you recommend it to other members who might be thinking of getting involved?
As a volunteer, I’ve felt like I’m really contributing to the industry in ways that go beyond design. I’ve been able to use my somewhat dormant writing skills. It has given me the chance to connect with people outside my usual circles. I would definitely encourage my fellow RGDs to find a way to volunteer that suits their skills and interests. It requires a bit of a time commitment, but you’d be surprised how much you get out of it! Not to mention, you get to interact with the amazing staff at RGD!
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