Volunteer of the Month for September 2019

RGD thanks Board Member and Student Committee Chair Joe Thoong Student RGD for his contributions to our community.

Joe is a third-year graphic design student at Vancouver Island University who is deeply passionate about using design to create social impact and positive change. 



Q: How long have you been volunteering with RGD, and in what capacity? 

This is my third year volunteering for RGD. I’ve been on the RGD Student Committee for two years and this is my second year on the Committee as co-chair. I started volunteering in my first year of university because I wanted to get more involved and connect with the design industry as soon as possible.


Q: Based on your experience volunteering with RGD, how would you describe the role of the organization? 

During my time on the Student Committee, I’ve seen how RGD fosters connections to support a strong and vibrant community of Canadian graphic designers. Having experienced a taste of the design industry during my summer internship, I couldn’t help but notice how everyone seemed to know everyone through RGD. Whether it was designers being a part of the RGD Board or a Committee or having met at the DesignThinkers Conference, everyone had a connection to each other. As a student, it can sometimes feel like there is a gap between you and the industry. RGD can act as a bridge connecting student designers to professionals in the industry. 


In the 2019 Student Awards, Joe received the Goods & Services Award for Editorial Design for his TREMOR Magazine project


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 think it is important that more designers, students and organizations get involved and excited about what we do. For a national design culture and community to thrive, we need everyone involvement and voice. We live at a time when technology and social media allow us to connect online, which designers and students can and should be taking advantage of this.


Beyond joining Committees or attending events, this can be as simple as approaching a local designer you admire and asking for a short interview. This shows you want to learn more and in some ways get connected with those in the industry.


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? 

Through the Student Committee I’ve had the opportunity to connect and learn from so many talented designers across Canada. I have also met a lot of industry professionals through RGD events. It's interesting to hear and discuss our industry with fellow designers across the country, because it provides a chance to learn so much more. Last year I participated in RGD's Designathon, where I met my current employer and someone who I later worked for as an Intern. 


Left: Joe Thoong, Ross Chandler RGD (Mentor) and teammates at a 2018 Designathon

Right: Joe Thoong on his last day of his Internship at Becoming Creative Projects under Ross Chandler RGD


I like to think of the design industry as a conversation. Once you join the conversation you can learn from what others have done and build on the experience of the community. By collaboratively listening and contributing, we can inspire one another. As a student, I personally love the work that the teams under Alex Center, Brian Collins and Judy Hudson-Powell do, and I take inspiration from their design strategy and approach. 


To be inspired by each other, it helps to have an organization like RGD to facilitate connections. That’s what RGD is all about: Designers inspiring designers.


Interested in getting involved with RGD? Fill out our online form.