- Establish eligibility guidelines for RGD Certification candidates.
- Create a method for testing these candidates that ensure they meet the standards required to be certified as Registered Graphic Designers.
(a) Recruitment/Application Process
- Review use of new application form; identify educator & manager candidates to user test through the process particularly completion of the new form and portfolio presentation evaluation
- Review incentive program to identify additional incentives to add; provide more systematic promotion for them.
- Identify ways to congratulate/promote newly-Certified RGDs/encourage more referrals
(b) Preparation Materials / Support
- Create a simple checklist for applying and going through the process
- Develop helpful materials to assist those going through the Certification Process – Create Sample Test
(c) Test / Portfolio Presentation
- Develop 1-2 alternate sections of the Online Test
- Update Questions across all sections for consistency/updated relevance
- Revise Accessibility Questions based on updated Accessibility Handbook
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: Randal Boutilier RGD, Toronto
Randal is founding principal of 12thirteen, a firm focused on serving the non-profit and performing arts sectors. Word-of-mouth promotion has grown his client list from small businesses and independent artists to York University and the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
Adam is a passionate design educator, and the Principal and founder of Catalyst Workshop, a Toronto based design & development consultancy. His research is focused on building a seminal body of knowledge and policy recommendations to increase the physical functional diversity of post-secondary design institutions. A vocal proponent of accessible and inclusive user-centric design, Adam is passionate about creating positive social impact through the interaction of design, pedagogy, and technology.
Eric Forest RGD, Toronto
Eric is a graphic designer, photographer, and researcher. He has been employed as an in-house designer, writer, and photographer by large municipalities, police services, and international law firms. 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.
James Kuo RGD, Toronto
James is a multi-disciplinary 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. For decades, he has designed digital-and-print collateral projects for MoMA and ROM’s exhibitions and programs as well as design studios in Toronto.
Jennifer Laing RGD, Toronto
Jennifer is Design Director at Skylight Communication. Her over 15 years in the communications industry includes art direction and design for branding, print and digital media. After a number of years honing skills in the agency world she started an independent graphic communication studio in 2006.
Rod Nash RGD, Vineland
Rod experienced the thrill successful communication design can bring early in his career in Australia. At J. Walter Thompson in Melbourne, Rod and agency colleagues convinced a national advertiser to integrate collateral with the advertising. What now seems an obvious design strategy was new for large ad agencies at that time. Rod is an active advisor to the RGD Board and Creative Director at Nash & Nash Ltd.
Megan Oldfield RGD, Toronto
Megan is the founding principal and creative director of Field Design Office and a design educator in Toronto. Partnering with clients in entertainment, arts, hospitality and corporate sectors, she specializes in creative direction and design spanning branding, packaging, film titling, wayfinding and exhibition design–most notably for Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh on The Happy Show in Toronto.
Victor Szeto RGD, Toronto
Victor is the Creative Director at Green Living Enterprises. Having worked in a variety of media in the graphic design field, Victor brings more than a decade of invaluable visual knowledge to the table. He is proud and fortunate to constantly be collaborating with passionate and interdisciplinary teams where he gets to create, develop and execute a variety of visual communications on a daily basis. Projects he’s been involved with include environmental graphics, campaigns, and collateral for the ROM, Cineplex, Scotiabank, TD Bank, Toronto Hydro, the Pembina Institute, University of Toronto, Eva’s Initiatives, the Green Living Show and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.
Stüssy is a Founding Principal of Forge Media + Design. Born and raised in Switzerland, he originally was a Swiss banker by day and a graffiti artist by night. He soon realized that his passion for the creative needed to be nourished more and decided to go back to school to become a graphic designer. Stüssy's roles range from creative direction, to quality assurance, to managing various client accounts such as Apple.Christina Whitfield RGD, TorontoWhether developing creative for international brands such as TRESemmé and Dove, or maintaining brand integrity while bringing the new Milton city logo to life, Christina delights in the variety that graphic design offers. In her 10-year career, she has worked in both print and web. She is currently working to maintain the integrity of Milton’s rebranding and redefine a community’s perceptions through its visual identity.
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.