Saskia van Kampen RGD begins her appointment as Assistant Professor in the graphic design program at San Francisco State University in August of 2019 after finishing a five-year contract as Assistant Professor at OCAD University. She is both a practising graphic designer and contemporary artist represented by Gallerie Le Royer in Montreal.
Q: How long have you been volunteering with RGD, and in what capacity? what made you want to get involved?
I started participating in the Design Education Conferences that RGD began a few years back. After participating in several conferences as a presenter I was asked to join the Education Committee and then the Board. I have since become the VP of Education and am so thankful that this opportunity presented itself — it has been rewarding on a much more profound level than I could have ever imagined.
RGD Design Educators Conference, 2015
Since I joined the Education Committee I have helped to shine a light on education, educators and design research—areas that I had previously felt were being overlooked somewhat. What I found in the RGD was a family of like-minded individuals who are open to ideas and suggestions who are willing to support those ideas and suggestions, and had the spirit and experience to make those ideas and suggestions come to life.
Q: Of the RGD initiatives you have contributed to, what are you most proud of?
The Designathon is a philanthropic event that teams up Student and Provisional RGD Members with mentors who are active RGD professionals. These teams are given a brief from a non-profit organization and are tasked to complete the project within 12 hours. There have been four Designathons in the last year and a half and they now take place across Canada—it is the initiative that I am most proud of.
It is a truckload of work—not just for me but for the entire RGD staff. There are multiple moving parts, many people involved, a Google Spreadsheet that keeps getting bigger, different needs and requirements, last minute cancellations and last minute submissions. There were moments when I wondered why I was doing all that work. But then the day of the event arrives and all the pieces fall into place. I have a smile on my face from ear to ear for at least a week after the event. To know that all that effort allowed so many good people do good for so many other good people makes all the preparation seem completely insignificant by comparison.
Q: Can you share any ideas or suggestions for what individual designers and/or organizations like RGD can be doing to further improve the industry? What would you like to see change in the next 5-10 years?
I would love to see a stronger community of faculty participating in RGD's various programs and events to help create better connection and collaboration between academic and professional practice.
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?
To be blunt I wish more Members would engage with the organization. It took me a while to come to this realization but I feel that if I had joined the Education Committee earlier I would have gained far more insight far faster. I think that in general RGD Members are not aware of the fact that the organization is a non-profit and relies on its Membership to make things happen. Every Board Member is volunteering their time. Every person who sits on a Committee is a volunteer. It is truly remarkable what can be accomplished by the generosity and resolve of the RGD volunteers. And the community that this work creates is wonderful to be a part of.
Interested in getting involved with RGD? Fill out our online form.