- Establish and update the eligibility criteria for those interested in going through the RGD Certification Process.
- Develop the method for testing RGD candidates to ensure they meet the standards required to be recognized as Certified RGDs.
- Ensure the entire Certification Process, particularly the assessment, is professionally credible, feasible, defensible, affordable and fair.
Reviewing the Eligibility Criteria & Application Process
RGD's Certification Committee works to ensure candidates have an appropriate amount of relevant work experience and/or education to ensure they can and will succeed through the RGD Certification Process. The Committee also works to ensure the process is smooth, rewarding and not too time-consuming for candidates.
The Certification Committee monitors success rates for all 5 sections of the 75-minute open book, multiple-choice test that must be taken by candidates. The sections currently cover Business; Accessibility; Design Research; Design Principles; and RGD’s Rules of Professional Conduct. The Committee updates questions, reviews suggested texts and alters passing marks based on past candidates' success rates. The Committee is also working to ensure the relevance of the process, particularly as it pertains to the results that candidates' receive.
Candidates present 6 portfolio pieces virtually to 3 senior professionals over 30 minutes to demonstrate the successful application of strategic design principles to marketing and communications challenges. Certification Committee Members approve new Portfolio Evaluators and participate as Evaluators themselves.
The Study Group helps candidates prepare for the RGD Certification Process. Meetings take place weekly and are scheduled based on participants' availability. The Study Group shares resources, reviews notes and provides support through discussion, practice quizzes and peer-to-peer practice portfolio interviews.
Chair: Victor Szeto RGD, Toronto
Victor is the Creative Director at Green Living Enterprises. Victor brings more than a decade of invaluable visual knowledge to the table. Projects he’s been involved with include environmental graphics, campaigns and collateral for the ROM, Cineplex, Scotiabank, Toronto Hydro, the Pembina Institute, University of Toronto, Eva’s Initiatives and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.
Amanda Bolte RGD, Komoka
As an award-winning designer and Creative Director bringing with her over 20 years experience to fast-paced studio environments, Amanda has lead creative teams for clients such as Tim Hortons, A&W, Harley Davidson, Labatt Breweries, FCA Canada (Chrysler), Jolly Jumper, Sears Canada (and more) producing packaging, branding, print, photography, digital signage and new media. Her well-versed knowledge in brand development has also successfully launched new businesses and products across North America. Her work has been featured on the dieline.com, packagingoftheworld.com and has won top honours from the RGD and the Design Edge Regional Design Awards (redgees).
Katherine Carney RGD, Toronto
Katherine is a senior in-house graphic designer at the University of Toronto, with a special appreciation of forms, charts, grids, ampersands, and intricate cut-outs. In her spare time, she's pretty analog, working on letterpress and linocut prints.
Eric is a graphic designer, photographer and researcher. As a contract creative, Eric has worked with a range of businesses, and in particular restaurants from the national, regional and local scale. He is a graduate student at OCADU, focusing his research on facilitating design thinking and literacy for blind people by increasing accessibility in woodworking shops.
Michelle Hopgood RGD, Toronto
Michelle is Founder, Creative Designer, and Information Specialist at Hopgood Creative. She helps researchers, academics, and thinkers use the power of design to explain complex ideas. With over 15 years of experience in design, information, knowledge and information management, Michelle brings a unique perspective to clients and business. She holds a diploma from Sault College, a Bachelor of Design from OCAD University, and a Master of Information from the University of Toronto. Michelle was a recipient of RGD’s In-House Design Awards 2016 and a speaker at DesignThinkers TO 2019. She has an unshakeable commitment to making complex ideas beautiful to help her clients get media attention, teach courses, and reach a wide audience.
James Kuo RGD, Toronto
James is a multidisciplinary art director, senior designer and design entrepreneur whose work encompasses print-and-digital media. Previously, James was a senior designer of Graphic Design and Digital Media at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, as well as a freelance senior designer at Royal Ontario Museum.
Adam Rallo RGD, Toronto
Adam is a passionate design educator and the Principal and founder of Catalyst Workshop. A vocal proponent of accessible and inclusive user-centric design. Adam is dedicated to creating positive social impact through the interaction of design, pedagogy and technology.
Kathy Sigstad RGD, Chilliwack
Kathy works as the Brand & Graphic Design Specialist at the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC and as a sessional design instructor at the University of the Fraser Valley. In the years leading up to her current role, Kathy focused on multidisciplinary communication design projects with clients such as SFU, Variety Children's Charity, Alzheimer Society, Technical Safety BC and Health Canada.
Stüssy Tschudin RGD, Toronto
Born and raised in Switzerland, Stüssy is a founding principal of Forge Media + Design. Originally was a banker by day and graffiti artist by night, he soon realized that his passion for the creative needed to be nourished and decided to go back to school to become a graphic designer.
Presented by Stüssy Tschudin RGD; VP of Certification, Committee Chair at RGD's AGM on April 18, 2020
It is the Certification Committee’s mandate to continuously refine RGD’s Certification Process by updating the eligibility criteria, further developing the methods for testing candidates to ensure they meet the standards required to become Certified, and ensuring the entire process is professionally credible, feasible, defensible, affordable and fair.
Becoming a Certified RGD is a key milestone in many designers’ careers. It signifies a dedication and commitment to the profession. And it enables designers to become a part of a larger community of like-minded people who share a passion for good design, while upholding the highest professional standards.
In order for this designation to be meaningful, it is crucial that we reach designers from coast-to-coast and convince more and more talented professionals to become Certified Members. This truly is a case of strength in numbers, so when RGD advocates on behalf of its Members, there is a strong, unified voice speaking on behalf of all of us.
But why is it that people choose to get Certified? It certainly is to be a part of the larger design community, but it is also a validation for many of their commitment to doing good design and so that they may be recognized as professionals of the highest standard.
In 2015, RGD implemented an entirely virtual Certification process. This includes submission of a PDF application, taking an Online Test and presenting a portfolio virtually to 3 evaluators. The system works incredibly well and we now receive applications from across the country (and around the world).
And in the current COVID-19 environment, RGD is therefore ahead of the curve, as we are already fully set up with a process that can be done entirely from the comfort of your home, and while practicing physical distancing.
In 2019, a record 51 new RGDs were Certified, which brings the total number of Certified Members to 818.
The Certification Committee continues to make refinements to the Certification Process to make candidates more comfortable and add transparency to how the process works.
This past year, our Director of Membership, Heidi Veri, started sending candidates more detailed feedback on their portfolio presentations, with personalized comments from their evaluators. This feedback has been a greatly appreciated addition to the Certification experience. And then, just this week, we launched a Sample Test, which lets applicants experience the actual online system they’ll be using during the official Test and try out a few sample questions from each section.
To stay current and relevant, it is the Committee’s responsibility to update the Test, by adding new sections, as well as new reading materials to go with them. In the very near future, we hope to add new Test sections that include: UX, Environmental Design, Information Design and Design Management. Also, the questions in the Accessibility section have been updated to reflect content from the new and improved Accessibility 2 Guidelines and the Ethics questions have been updated based on the new unified Code of Ethics with the GDC and SDGQ.
First, I would like to thank our Committee coordinator, RGD’s Director of Membership, Heidi Veri, who takes applicants through the entire Certification Process and who coordinates the efforts of all our Committee Members.
Second, a big thank you to Randal Boutilier, who chaired this Committee for most of this past year. Randal always brought a very positive spirit and entertaining presentation style to our Committee meetings (as well as previous years’ AGMs. So, my apologies for not presenting this report with multiple costumes, masks and disco balls that were hallmarks of Randal’s presentations in the past).
Thank you to all of the Committee Members who take time out of their busy schedules to participate in our monthly meetings, as well as take on extra tasks from reading new books for the test, reviewing applications and evaluating candidates during their portfolio presentations.
The Committee Members are (in alphabetical order):
- Amanda Bolte RGD
- Katherine Carney RGD
- Eric Forest RGD
- James Kuo RGD
- Megan Oldfield RGD
- Adam Rallo RGD
- Kathy Sigstad RGD
- Victor Szeto RGD
- Christina Whitfield RGD
And last but not least, thank you very much to our 42 volunteer evaluators who make it possible for us to review so many candidates and their portfolios over the course of the year.
Thank you to everybody for their contributions and I look forward to working with you for many years to come.
Presented by Randal Boutilier RGD, Committee Chair at RGD's Annual Meeting on April 29, 2019
Achieving the RGD designation is a fantastic accomplishment in a designer’s career. It signifies a personal commitment to professional development and a public commitment to honest and transparent practices to the larger community.
This lofty statement is put to the test on a regular basis through all of our committee work – and none of it would be possible without the tireless efforts of all the RGD staff – and in particular Hilary and Heidi. We truly could not get where we are without them here to raise the bar on our efforts, and offer a friendly sounding board to new ideas and connections. Our committee also benefits from the advisory role of Rod Nash RGD, whose input ensures that the finer details of our decisions are followed through.
RGD Certification pushes designers out of their comfort zone. It takes a bit of tenacity to read the test materials. It takes a bit of introspection to explain design decisions. It takes a bit of courage to show creative work to other professionals in your field.
Fortunately, the Certification Committee is here to ensure that applicants don’t struggle needlessly in the process. Our group is always reviewing the path to RGD certification to ensure it is fair, relevant and rewarding.
2018 has seen our committee move from strength to strength – and we’ve continued our progress on the three fronts that touch the certification process:
- Clearly explaining the Certification Process
- Improving supports for applicants
- Integrating RGD’s Portfolio Evaluation Standards with the GDC
Julian Brown RGD of On The Chase has continued his masterful work on our Certification Excuses series. His most recent creation shines a light on the completely virtual process, which makes access more convenient for applicants across the country. This year will see another revealed in the series, and our committee is busy selecting from a range of messages that can be adapted in a humourous way.
Virtual RGD Certification info sessions are held by Heidi, using a template that picks up on the style of the application. This improved presentation strives to bring clarity to the process, and comes with promotional offers and incentives. We are discovering a positive uptake on applications with these offerings, and in 2019/2020 we hope to amplify these promotional offers in future communications.
The virtual info session encourages candidates to dig into more detail on the RGD website, which now has clearer language about the steps it takes to become certified. The RGD website also now features a set of application examples from successful candidates. In posting these, we want to show the various ways designers explain their work, and help demystify the application form for potential candidates.
One of our goals in 2019/2020 is to create a simple checklist for potential candidates to follow – and explore ways to make this information more visual in nature. Additional support will continue to be offered through our Slack Study Group initiative – developed tirelessly by Christina Whitfield RGD. What was once an in-person series of group meetings has been transformed into a digital space – both to expand our reach across Canada and to be less site-specific. While the pick-up to-date has been modest, we hope that integrating our study group into RGD’s wider Slack presence will help enhance the experience for certification candidates.
Another one of our goals in the past year was to add new sections to the online test – expanding our reach in areas of UI/UX, environmental design, design education, and design management. In short, we didn’t achieve this goal because this task is a lot harder than it sounds – but rest assured that this goal is still on our radar for 2019/2020.
Over the past year, the committee has reviewed many different books. Greg Dubeau RGD and Jennifer Laing RGD have each taken the lead on thoroughly reviewing materials before the wider group offers input. A number of contenders fell short, but I am pleased to say that we’ve identified a suitable book that is centred on UI/UX. Victor Szeto RGD, one of our most recent committee members, has offered a selection of environmental design books that will follow a similar rigorous review process. We are still hoping to get other references in the realms of design education and design management, and are open to any and all recommendations from the wider RGD community.
One key section of the online test is about accessibility – something that all designers need to understand moving forward. To date, RGD’s information was shared through 2 separate handbooks – each focused on either print or digital design. Over the past year, Adam Rallo RGD has played a key role as editor of a unified and comprehensive accessible design reference source – Access Ability 2. Eric Forest RGD and James Kuo RGD have each stepped up to this rewriting challenge, ensuring that all of the information is accurate and meets best practices. This comprehensive text now covers print, digital, and environmental design, and offers insight into additional considerations such as cognitive load. The print version is on track to be revealed at DesignThinkers Vancouver, with an expanded digital edition to be launched as well.
With all of these new and developing source materials to consider, our committee works to review the online test for clarity, consistency, and relevance to the source texts. Megan Oldfield RGD is deep in this effort, wading through the questions to identify those that need refinement. She is also working through these questions in the interest of another of our 2019/2020 goals – developing a sample online test. The online sample text will be offered at a fee for those who wish to experience the testing process without the added pressure of a grade. The committee feels that that this will give comfort to those who are new to online testing – and emphasize our commitment to a transparent process.
This report would not be complete without mentioning the progress that has been made toward aligning the professional Certification Processes of RGD and GDC- and we are a few steps closer to setting common standards that will unify the professional design industry in Canada. Over the past year, Hilary Ashworth and Stüssy Tschudin RGD have worked with GDC’s Executive Director and Certification on a lengthy review process to update our certification standards. In the fall of 2018, we started to test our new standards with our certification reviewers – and asked that they fill in 2 versions of the application form for comparison. We are pleased to say that the new standards result in the same acceptance level as in previous years, and look forward to advising GDC members on our reviewer process in the year to come.
Once upon a time, RGD had 3 different application forms, and our work with the GDC has distilled this down to 1 form. Admittedly, this has caused a little bit of confusion when reviewing candidates with a design management or a design education background – especially since many don’t have a formal portfolio of design work to share. Over 2019 and 2020, our committee is reviewing this concern along with our reviewers to see how these unique cases can be handled within our unified framework.
Presented by recorded video by Randal Boutilier RGD at RGD's AGM on April 25, 2018
Certification is the lifeblood of RGD – and it is a hefty portion of the workload for RGD staff. From making presentations about the process and fielding questions, to organizing portfolio reviewers, to providing candidates with test results, Heidi takes the lead in keeping momentum for those who are going through the certification process while Hilary and our Committee focus on making the process more fair, relevant and valuable. I cannot begin to explain the work of the Committee without thanking them all for their constructive judgement through a year of exciting change.
2017 was a busy year for the Committee – seeing progressive change on three fronts that align with the whole certification process:
- Promotion of the Certification Process
- Streamlining the Certification Application
- Integrating RGD’s Portfolio Evaluation Standards with the GDC
The promotion of the certification process took place in two ways – with the creation of brief promotional videos and simplifying certification information through a virtual presentation.
We must thank Julian Brown RGD of On The Chase, whose brief videos help breakdown so-called certification myths. These tongue-in-cheek videos touch on the notions that certification is too difficult and too specialized in its focus. By tackling the daunting idea of certification with a touch of humour, we hope to broaden the appeal for those who are pursuing their professional RGD designation.
The RGD Certification overview presentation was updated with a fresher design and a co-presentation format with RGD staff and Committee Members. The bulk of these presentations are delivered virtually, and promotional offerings that waive application fees are getting pickup from those who attend. Work continues to refine our presentation deck, with the goal of showing a new presentation at DesignThinkers in Toronto this fall.
The application process has been vastly improved through the efforts of Umar Shahzad – who designed a much more efficient and stylish fillable PDF form, allowing us to shift RGD’s application submission from a clunky web-based interface. This updated format holds a visual standard that goes beyond the digital offering, and gives reviewers an all-access document to review the work and thoughts of those who are taking their first step on the certification journey.
Once people have gone through the initial application, they are ready to take part in the online test. RGD’s Certification Process went completely virtual in 2015 – and since then our committee has ensured that the process remains accessible and fair. Feedback from those who have gone through the process is reviewed by the committee on a monthly basis – and adjustments continue to be made to section timing, clarity of information about the testing process, and the update of questions that prove difficult for candidates.
The online test will be an area of significant development in the coming year. Professional designers are being called up on to have significant knowledge and understanding in the areas of research, digital integration and strategy. In an effort to broaden the relevance of the RGD designation to managers and others, the Committee is reviewing additional optional sections for the test. Thanks to a growing interest from select authors, we plan to develop new questions and study materials to broaden the reach of the testing into areas that focus on Strategy, UX and Design Management.
In the certification process, the online test is followed by a ½ hour portfolio evaluation. Even with over 30 Certified RGDs, it can be difficult to synchronize the schedules of 3 working professionals for all of our virtual portfolio presentations. For that reason, we continue to grow our numbers, with a consistent desire to keep a fair gender balance, and attract more reviewers whose expertise are in fields outside of traditional graphic design.
We certainly cannot present a report without mentioning the progress that has been made toward aligning the professional Certification Processes of RGD and GDC. Working closely with GDC’s Executive Director and Certification Chair, Hilary and Stüssy have taken the lead on this, with our Committee providing in-depth comparisons of our two portfolio application forms and evaluation processes.
The discussions are at a critical stage as we advance towards the GDC’s Annual Meeting in June, when their National Representatives will vote on many of our proposals. But with the continued focus on open dialogue and collaboration between our organizations, we feel very close to setting common standards that will unify the professional design industry in Canada.
This has been my first half-year on the Committee, and I wouldn’t have been able to showcase these accomplishments without our thoughtful and active members. Thank you to all of the Committee: RGD’s President, Stüssy Tschudin, and my fellow Committee Members Greg Dubeau, James Kuo, Jennifer Laing, Umar Shahzad, Christina Whitfield, Fe Wyma, who unfortunately has just had to step down from the Committee, and our newest Member Eric Forest. Also, to our Advisory Committee Rod Nash and Adam Rallo. Your perspectives and sage guidance has been tremendous for raising the bar on the standards and value of the RGD designation.
- Must be a certified Registered Graphic Designer
- Time to contribute to the work of the Board via email feedback, videoconference discussions and independent and group work.
- Prior or current experience on the RGD Board is preferred.
- Those interested in joining the Committee should fill out the online form: Get Involved with RGD.
- Those interested in coming Portfolio Evaluators for Candidates for RGD Certification should fill out the online form here.
- Click here for a list of initiatives and other ways to get involved with the Committee's activities.