I have written about my personal passion for RGD here before, but it occurs to me that a reader may not know what the RGD is or what they do.
So let us clear that up before I go any further. The RGD, or Registered Graphic Designers, attempts to set a standard of quality and philosophical ideals that members try to adhere to. This includes policies of not participating in spec work or standards of accessible design. This means if a designer has the RGD credentials attached to their names a certain level of work is expected from that designer. RGD also provides a community for designers to come together and talk and think about what they do and ways of doing it differently or doing it better. As a student at St. Lawrence College in the Graphic Design program I have "Student RGD" designation which means I have access to that community and can attend events at a reduced entry fee or free in some cases. This is an incredible opportunity as RGD holds many incredible events where someone like myself can hear top designers discuss how they work and what they have done in their career to find success. I am a big believer in what RGD is for design so I have attended as many events as I could this year. Every time meant many late nights ahead of and before hand but every time was worth the sacrifice of sleep. I'm going to describe for you three of my favourite events that I have attended this year, and why I loved every minute of it. This is going to be a very positive post, ready? Here we go. I'm starting with a show stopper. Design Thinkers is easily the biggest design conference in Canada every year. Huge names in design attend like George Lois, Jessica Hische, Peter Mendlesund, and Karin Fong (all personal design heroes of mine) attend and give fantastically crafted talks about what they do or aspects of design that are important to them. It is a two day event filled to the brim with talks and workshops, but it is also an incredible networking opportunity. There are many vendors showing off new design software or paper solutions. Meeting and talking with these people really helps you begin to forge a network that can become an incredible resource for a young designer. As a student I wanted to just soak in the world of design professionals, and to bond with fellow students in our shared wonder of these giants of design. An extremely nice bonus is the vast amount of free material RGD provides each attendee, magazines, paper samples, all sorts of great material that now decorates my cubicle back at St. Lawrence College. Several students attended the event with me, but it also introduced me to some students from other colleges including the RGD student committee. This introduction would begin me becoming very involved with the student committee so for this reason Design Thinkers was a very important event for me. If you read my last post (an interview with Wendy Millard, RGD) you already know about my love of the Future By Design event. Future By Design brings some very cool and big designers together to give talks and take questions on topics for an evening. I have attended two of these events, one about entrepreneurship and one about creative collaborations. Designers that attended and spoke at these events include some of the coolest names in design, Aaron Draplin, one of the co-designers of a must own notebook "Field Notes." The most recent event about creative collaboration featured a new name for me but one I hadn't realized I had been worshipping since I was a teenager: Emily Oberman. Emily has been designing the opening credits of Saturday Night Live for the last 20 years and thus, to me, has been the pinnacle of cool for my entire adult life! These events are streamed out to cities so it is a far more intimate setting allowing me to interact with other designers, like the amazing Wendy Millard herself. It has been a fantastic source of inspiration but also provided me with solid strategies for framing how I should approach work and what it takes to be successful in the world outside the classroom. That kind of education just can't come from a classroom, you need to be out in the field talking to the people doing it every day to learn those lessons. I am so thankful St. Lawrence College lets me take advantage of opportunities like these by being affiliated with RGD. Lastly, and the most recent event I attended was Headstart. A conference not totally unlike Design Thinkers but smaller in scale and aimed squarely at students and young designers. The major difference however is that half of Headstart is a massive portfolio review. Students bring a portfolio of work they have made thus far and have it reviewed by designers in the field. Major amazing designers like Russell Gibbs and Gilbert Li also might review your portfolio so it is potentially an amazing professional advantage to attend an event like this. The other half of the event is given over to talks about topics important to students, freelance work, portfolio design, and how to market yourself to employers. Of all the events I attended this one was by far the most valuable. The information I learned from showing my portfolio and listening to the talks was invaluable and changed my outlook on how I was spending my energy at school. This event was attended by four other classmates that all brought back a special kind of energy. That might be the greatest gift these events give us students. That special energy when you get inspired and amazed and totally blown away by a field and a career you aspire to. Design is special, at least to me, and these events show me why. I understand the pressure and strain we are all under in design school. We all work and have lives and it is already impossible to fit all that into the never ending and very demanding work load of school, but I wholeheartedly encourage every student I work and toil with to attend these events. They are worth the sleepless nights it takes to make time for them. Sleep later, design now.