Volunteer of the Month for May 2023

The RGD thanks Esther Sunghee Byun RGD for her contributions to the RGD community.


"Esther is always prepared to take on new initiatives, in both support and lead roles. She has a great eye for detail, is highly organized and brings valuable perspective to our Membership Committee. We would like to recognize her latest contribution in relaunching the RGD Book Club and hope that all professional Members embrace this opportunity to have a dialogue with the authors, learn, and connect. Keep up the great work Esther!" — Elyse Maxwell RGD, Chair, Membership Committee.
How long have you been volunteering with the RGD and in what capacity?
I began volunteering with the RGD in 2021 as part of the then Communications Committee. I now serve on the Membership Committee. I’ve participated in various capacities, including serving as a design judge for Student Awards, reviewing portfolios, mentoring emerging designers, moderating roundtable discussion groups at DesignThinkers Toronto, contributing to the making of the Creative Earners Survey and leading the virtual RGD Book Club initiative. 
What contribution are you most proud of? What experience/memory stands out for you?
I'm most proud of my work on the RGD Book Club and without a doubt, it’s been a rewarding experience. The memory that stands out is the launch of the RGD Book Club with my brand identity design and the very first virtual meeting with author Bob Hambly and RGD Members. I was extremely thrilled to see it come to life and to connect with fellow bibliophiles.
What is the most surprising/unexpected thing to come out of volunteering with the RGD?
Making new personal connections with various design authors and publishers is the most surprising thing to come out of volunteering with the RGD. It’s been exciting reaching out to authors and to see their enthusiasm for joining Book Club meetings. Diving into deeper conversations with authors about their awesome books, learning valuable information and hearing the behind-the-scenes stories has been incredible. Also, I’m immensely thankful to RGD Members who have been joining the meetings and actively participating by asking the authors great questions. I can’t wait to share the amazing line-up of authors we have planned for future meetings!
What have you learned about the industry since volunteering for the RGD?
I have learned that there’s a drastically growing number of designers freelancing in addition to their full-time employment. Even greater numbers of designers are turning their hobbies into a side hustle or a small business on top of their regular jobs. It’s fascinating to learn how many designers are passionate about their craft and how they are juggling multiple tasks. 
Based on your experience volunteering with the RGD, how would you describe the role of the organization in the industry?
In my view, the role of the RGD in the industry is being the provider of enriching collaborative opportunities. The organization administers a diverse range of initiatives, programs, webinars, conferences, events and much more. All of these initiatives come to fruition by the lovely RGD staff and the incredible creatives who donate their time in volunteering. 
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?
By being an active Member of the RGD community and dedicating my time as a volunteer, I’m able to contribute a small part to the advancement in the field of design which has been at the core of my beliefs. Design will always be a part of the way we live. By exploring the benefits that the RGD has to offer, I have learnt that there are endless opportunities to build new connections, gain valuable insights and resources and create entry points into broader opportunities for collaboration.
Do you have thoughts on what you might like to do as a volunteer with the RGD in the future?
As a designer who has always been interested in gaining international work experiences by living and working abroad, if the RGD sees fit to establish a resource guide or a connection hub for Canadian creatives moving abroad permanently and/or temporarily working in different cities or countries, I would be interested in contributing in the future. I’ve lived and worked in London, England and now I’ve moved to the US permanently since 2020. I still hope to work in a variety of different countries while remaining connected to my fellow Canadian creatives because Toronto will always be my home.
Esther Sunghee Byun RGD is an Art Director and Senior Designer specializing in art direction, brand identity and editorial design in a variety of industries. She has had the pleasure of working with brands and studios such as Apple, Cadillac, Flexjet, Hudson Yards New York, Nobis, Pandora Jewelry, Pentagram and The Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. With a multi-disciplinary and modern approach to design, Esther brings idea-driven purposeful work to life by incorporating thought and charm through smart and refined visual solutions for a wide range of clients.