Volunteer of the Month for March 2021

The RGD thanks Noah Ortmann RGD, Freelance Graphic Designer, for his contributions to the RGD community.


"Noah dedicates a lot of time and effort to improving the RGD Member experience year-round. He thoughtfully supports his fellow Committee Members and takes the lead on projects. Noah is an incredible asset to the RGD and the Membership Committee."
   — Elyse Maxwell RGD, VP & Chair, RGD Membership Committee
How long have you been volunteering with the RGD and in what capacity?
I started volunteering as a Member of the Student Committee. I remember feeling both proud and slightly embarrassed (I was a quiet student) when Hilary Ashworth, the RGD's Executive Director, visited my class at OCAD to promote the RGD and singled me out as an RGD representative. Since earning my certification, I've participated in Portfolio Reviews, judged the RGD Student Awards, led a team at a Designathon, contributed to the development of the RGD Emeritus Membership Category and co-created/hosted a Virtual Trivia Night. I'm currently on the Membership Committee and co-leading the Solo Designers Virtual Community. I'm also working to help program for our 2021 Creative Directions Conference.
What experience/memory stands out for you?
Leading a group of Student/Provisional RGD Members in the Designathon stands out to me. As a solo designer, my only co-worker is a Boston Terrier and he doesn't know how to kern. So having the opportunity to lead a group of designers over the course of the day was a unique experience. It was rewarding to see them come together under a very tight deadline to create a brand identity for a real client. Another fun memory I have is from my time on the Student Committee, when meetings were held at the RGD's downtown Toronto office. In the alleyway outside of the conference room window, there was a film crew working on the sequel to the movie Kick-Ass. In between shots, the main character (in full superhero costume) waved over to us. The lesson here: if you volunteer with the RGD, you'll likely meet a superhero. 
What is the most surprising/unexpected thing to come out of volunteering with the RGD?
Each time I'm involved with an RGD project, it brings unexpected results. These results can be intangible, like growing outside of my comfort zone (doing a presentation, leading a team) or learning something new (being exposed to different viewpoints and experiences). Or they're more concrete, like making a new connection that leads to work. I try not to have a set outcome in mind, so it's always exciting to see where these things lead.
What have you learned about the industry since volunteering for the RGD?
There are a lot of talented designers and many of them have faced the same challenges as you have. And there are many different ways you can take your career, which might be new to you, but someone else has already been there. As a solo designer, the RGD community helps put things in perspective and makes me feel connected to the industry as a whole. 
Based on your experience volunteering with the RGD, how would you describe the role of the organization in the industry?
The RGD is a centre point for designers. They help you stand in a more confident position as a designer, especially when you're client-facing. It's valuable to have a trusted source backing you on issues like pricing, ethics and accessibility. The RGD is a great way to stay current in an industry that moves quickly. Attending events like DesignThinkers or watching RGD Webinars are ways I keep inspired and learning.
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?
Volunteering is a great way to expand your understanding of the industry. Helping out with the upcoming Creative Directions conference has been eye-opening. As we've searched for people to contribute to the conference, I've been exposed to new designers and projects. The quality and breadth of design work out there can be overwhelming, but it opens your mind to new ways of doing things. Volunteering is also an excellent way to advance your career and make connections, while contributing to the growth of the organization. In my experience, the things I've done outside of directly looking for work/jobs always seem to pay off the most.
Do you have thoughts on what you might like to do as a volunteer with the RGD in the future?
I've been looking more into accessibility, entrepreneurship and self-directed projects lately, so it would be great to integrate some of these interests in my future volunteer work. The RGD is flexible in that it adapts to your own interests and career trajectory. I'm looking forward to whatever is next!

Noah is a Toronto-based designer with over 9 years of experience designing for print and web. He believes in clear solutions, creative problem solving, big picture thinking and design process. Noah’s self-directed projects with Avro Design Company have been featured in the National Post, MentalFloss, Bloomberg’s CityLab, CTV News and CBC Radio One.


Check out the RGD Volunteer for each month of 2020