Creative Directions: RGD's Top 10

March 18, 2015

Creative Directions: RGD's Top 10

Emerging professionals learn how to benefit from criticism, stand out to employers and build strong portfolios at RGD’s annual Creative Directions Career Conference





On March 6 and 7, designers converged for Creative Directions, the Association of Registered Graphic Designers’ largest event for emerging professionals, offering opportunities to explore creative spaces, receive constructive portfolio feedback and connect with prospective employers.


After touring top creative studios on day one, attendees gathered at the Toronto Reference Library for a full-day conference program designed to help new creatives build their careers in the industry. Topics covered included “Learning from Criticism,” “Running a Solo Business,” “Getting Hired,” “Negotiating an Awesome Salary,” “21st-Century Networking,” “Burning Portfolio Questions,” and more, such as a Pecha Kucha–style presentation from top creative directors who shed light on common industry misconceptions.


Emerging creatives receive feedback from experienced professionals at Creative Directions portfolio review sessions. Photo by Jason Massie Prov RGD


Here are five tips from the Creative Directions panelists on conducting a memorable portfolio interview:

  1. “Acknowledge that you’re passionate about learning. We all learn and grow every day. If you can articulate that you’re curious and willing to learn, that’s something an interviewer will want to know.” – Lynn Ridley RGD, Jan Kelley 
  1. “The last page of your portfolio will be what sticks in the interviewer’s mind. Make sure to finish with a strong piece.” – Brent Long RGD, Fusion Design Group 
  1. “You should understand your work as a living organism. We’re not always building monuments that will stand alone and static — address how your work will translate and how it will live in different contexts.” – Barry Quinn RGD, Juniper Park
  1. “Don’t follow trends. It’s easy to identify what’s ‘current’ and show us more of the same. It may look pretty, but there’s no substance. Do more with your work.” – Megan Oldfield RGD, Coolaide Design Field Office
  1. “The mess-ups can be what make you memorable — don’t sweat over an imperfect interview. It’s where your personality has a chance to come out.” – Vince Galante RGD, The Pixel Shop


And now for the Top 10 list. The key lessons to succeeding in your creative career:

  1. “You can never communicate with clients enough. We’re in the business of communicating; we should be good at it.” – Ric Riordon RGD, Riordon Design
  1. “It takes time to learn how you fit into the bigger picture; you can’t jump right to the top. Take it one step at a time, get the experience, climb the ladder.” – Glenda Rissman RGD, q30 design
  1. “If you’re a star at your first job, you’re at the wrong job. You should be learning from the people around you, challenging yourself and becoming better.” – Fidel Pena RGD, Underline Studio
  1. “Don’t assume that in-house is about sitting at a cubicle. We get to be creative, connect with people, explore new types of projects and think of new ways to apply designs in unique and interesting ways. Don’t limit your options by seeking studio work only.” – Morgan Rose Prov RGD, University of Toronto
  1. “Presentation skills are key, not just with clients, but internally. You should always be able put your process into words and provide an explanation for the visuals you create.” – Doreen Colonello, Affiliate Member of RGD, Entro Communications
  1. “If you can't justify your designs or communicate your ideas, reconsider your career in design.” – Helen Pak, Havas Worldwide
  1. “Boldness and clarity are the most important elements of communicating your ideas. Find a dynamic way to get your message across and give people an opportunity to experience the idea more fully. Make it tangible.” – Paddy Harrington RGD, Frontier
  1. “When debating whether to take a chance on yourself, ask ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen?’ If it’s not death, just do it.” – Mikey Richardson RGD, Jacknife 
  1. “The attitude of seeing clients on the ‘other side’ is wrong. My clients are my colleagues. The relationships and collaborations are what make projects work.” – Julian Brown RGD, On the Chase!
  1. “The industry is not a brick wall. When you become a creative professional and start connecting with others, you realize that everyone can be your teacher.” – Eleni Alpous, Cossette


For more industry advice from the event, search #rgdCD on Twitter.


See more photos from the event on RGD’s Flickr page. For more information on Creative Directions, click here.


L-R: Industry leaders Mikey Richardson RGD, Helen Pak, John Furneaux RGD and Lionel Gadoury RGD discuss upcoming industry trends with Creative Niche CEO Mandy Gilbert. Photo by Jason Massie Prov RGD


Career Advice from Creative Directions 2015 from RGD on Vimeo.


The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) promotes professional standards in the graphic design industry and authors a Top 10 list (in this case, Top 15) on the Applied Arts website.