The next round of RGD Mentors will be announced in March 2023.
Apply for the RGD Mentorship Program to be paired up with a Mentor who has knowledge and experience that can help you grow your design career. The program provides a chance to connect with a senior professional and benefit from their unique insight. If you have any questions about the program or you would like to be a Mentor, email .
"As an all-too-rare immigrant of colour who is a firm owner, I hope to offer you an insight into what it takes to survive and succeed in Canada."
Gavin Barrett, Owner, Founding Partner, Chief Creative Officer of Barrett and Welsh in Toronto, ON
"As your Mentor, I will offer insights and share my knowledge on art direction, editorial design and visual identity design. My goal is to have an open space where we can dive into meaningful conversations about the creative process, design thinking, the business of design, collaborative teamwork and passion projects. I will act as your design guide by giving you advice as you work to identify your goals and navigate the next steps in your creative journey."
Esther Sunghee Byun RGD, Senior Designer at Pentagram in the US
Esther is the Founder and Senior Designer of a purpose-driven creative design studio ESTHER SUNGHEE specializing in art direction, editorial design, and visual identity design. With a multi-disciplinary and modern approach to design, Esther brings work to life by incorporating thought and charm into smart and refined visual solutions for a wide range of clients. Currently Esther works for Team Luke Hayman in the NY office of Pentagram.
"As your mentor, I will share my experiences from working with a wide variety of clients and agencies. I can help you refine your craft and find your ideal fit."
Mark Buchner RGD, Design Director at Intent in Toronto, ON
Mark has extensive experience in building brands both large and small. He has helped develop award-winning brands, products and campaigns for a wide range of clients including Honda, Labatt, Bell, Feed Ontario and Women’s College Hospital Foundation, as well as several anniversary cards for his wife.
“As your mentor, I will practice radical candour, be present and inclusive--with a commitment to understanding your craft and your passions and supporting your advancement.”
Diana Campbell RGD, Manager of Digital Experience Operations at Alberta Blue Cross in Edmonton, AB
Diana is an experienced usability engineer, human-centred designer, accessibility champion and digital strategist who has dedicated her career to helping bridge the gap between real people and business goals. At Alberta Blue Cross, she has been recognized for her extraordinary commitment to innovation and purpose-driven strategy.
"As your Mentor, I will share my knowledge and experience of UX/UI design and offer insights on how user-first design thinking can be applied to any design project. I will also offer advice on freelancing and provide insights on what it takes to run your own business."
Evelyn Csiszar RGD, Founder & Director of UX Design & Strategy at Collective Experience in Squamish, BC
Evelyn’s lifelong fascination with studying how people think and act has led to a deep passion for UX design. She believes that you can only create successful products and services if you build them around the needs and wants of the people who will use them. This guiding principle applies to everything she does, regardless of the medium. Evelyn's clients have included University of Toronto, BMO, HydroOne, CCRM, Futurpreneur, HEQCO and the Ontario Science Centre.
“As your Mentor, I'll share my knowledge and insights into the development of visual identity systems for small and large clients including the elements of research, process, experimental making and visual storytelling. I can share my experience working within small design studios and larger agency environments and provide portfolio guidance.”
Franziska Erlebach RGD, Freelance Design Director in Toronto, ON
Franzi is a multidisciplinary designer and educator living in Toronto. She has been creating brand identities and leading design initiatives in the creative industry for 12 years at studios/agencies that include Bruce Mau Design, Sid Lee and Ogilvy as well as studios in Germany and Switzerland. Franzi currently works as a freelance Design Director and teaches Typography at OCAD University. Her clients have included The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Canada Basketball, Cheekbone Beauty and Audi.
"As your Mentor, I will share my lived experiences in design and communications from a BIPOC and Indigenous perspective. With 40+ years of design experience, I will guide and help cultivate your skill sets and share my knowledge so that you can successfully work with clients and build relationships."
Mark Rutledge RGD, Senior Designer / Creative Strategist at Outcrop Communication in Whitehorse, YT
Mark has over 40 years of experience designing for Canada’s Indigenous communities and organizations. He has worked with many Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations including the Indian Residential School Survivor Society, Tahltan, Kaska and Tlingit Nations, Yukon Quest, TechYukon and University of British Columbia. He leads Outcrop’s design strategy and processes across all platforms and is key to the success of all the creative strategic input and communications. Mark is a proud Ojibwa and an enrolled member of the Little Grand Rapids First Nation in Manitoba.
*Note: Mark prefers to mentor an Indigenous or BIPOC creative.
"As your mentor, I will offer advice to help you thrive as a multidisciplinary designer in the advertising and brand identity fields. We can talk about continuing your learning journey, creative inspiration, design process, growing from junior to senior and finding strategic and creative solutions to every design challenge."
Sheree Stephenson RGD, Senior Art & Design Director at Ramp in Toronto, ON
With 20 years of design experience, Sheree works with diverse, purpose-driven clients to deliver compelling and emotionally-rich graphic design, advertising and marketing solutions. Above all, she’s a maker. She holds a BFA in fine art from Queens University. Her rigorous art school beginnings inspire a proactive, can-do attitude that is evident in her approach to every creative challenge.
“As your mentor, I will share my knowledge and experience creating identity and branding. I can provide insights on pricing, client relationships, pitching, presenting and other areas related to the business of design. I am always open to candid discussions that can help you become a better creative."
Maninder Singh RGD, Creative Director at House of Singh in Toronto, ON
“Let's help you level up! Whether it's figuring out your path in the industry, learning new skills or tightening your kerning, I'll be happy to help any way I can."
David Nuff RGD, Designer & Principal at Nuff in Toronto, ON
Howard Poon RGD, VP Design at DDB Canada in Edmonton, AB
Howard has a reputation for frank feedback and has a low tolerance for complexity. He stays curious with a subscription to the Sunday New York Times and became addicted to espresso during the pandemic. As VP Design for DDB Canada (Edmonton), Howard collaborates with a cross-disciplinary agency team of strategists, creative copywriters, art directors and designers to use insight-driven creativity to build exceptional brands.
“As your mentor, I’ll share my knowledge and experience working on web and mobile apps, product design, UX and UI, as well as my story on how I transitioned from a traditional graphic design field into digital, and to now leading two product design teams for a major financial institution. We’ll go through what a typical real-life project looks like, focusing on a number of different skills: from typical UX UI/ visual design skills such as building wireframes and prototypes, all the way to softer design thinking skills, such as how to find and understand data, identify problems, come up with a solution, test it and measure success.”
Nikki Shih RGD, Product Design Lead, Enterprise Digital & Innovation at CIBC in TorontoI am a product design lead with a strong background in design strategy, UX UI and visual communications. Throughout my career as a designer, I’ve been involved in a very diverse array of projects from small startups in Toronto to international initiatives by Bloomberg Philanthropies. At CIBC, I lead projects that help lines of business across the organization with data driven, user centric design and strong UX UI and visual solutions.
"I would love to work with you if you have an interest in what life beyond working in a 'big agency' looks like or have a love for branding, packaging and the magical world of printed and offline design."
Caitlin Wharton RGD, Creative Director at Studio Millie in Portland, OR
I'm a Creative Director, Business Founder and Professor of design and colour theory. When I’m not sitting behind my giant computer screen or shaping young design minds, you can find me endeavouring to hike mountains in all 39 of Canada’s National Parks with my cute pup Willow and [also cute] husband Mike. For paper credentials: I studied Graphic Design at Parsons New York and Alberta College of Art and Design and have a BA in English from University of Calgary. Education aside, my formative design skills really come from the endless hours of notebook doodling and evenings spent with wine and a paintbrush.
"As your mentor, my goal is to set you up powerfully, to create the future you want to live today – as a designer, and a human. I will aim to provide value in the way(s) that make the most difference for you. I can lead and support, but I am not the one with the actions to take; I'm here to support your actions. So, if you're a design human who wants to choose their future – choose me."
Paul Wilcken RGD, Creative Partner at Humanfolk Studios Inc in Squamish, BC
"As you mentor, I’m happy to share the knowledge I’ve accumulated in creating visual identities, building brands and anything to do with typography but first I want to listen and understand your design experience and where you want to take it."
Jonathon Yule, Director of Design at Concrete in Toronto, ON
Jonathon is a collaborative multidisciplinary designer with strong typographic skills and a focus on distilling and amplifying brands. Clients include Apple Music, Norco, Caivan, Vega, Chef Bombay, Cervélo and Willibald. Both for clients and for personal use, Jonathon designs his own typefaces, two of which were used for Concrete’s DesignThinkers 2019 conference identity.
Interested in becoming a Mentor?
Click here for more details, or email