This event, presented by GDC Manitoba, turned out to be more entertaining than lecturing, which folks might have expected if they didn't already know the sustainability chair of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada. Rather than hectoring people about wasting non-renewable resources, the quick-witted Elliott opted to inspire the audience with an amusing retrospective of futurists, inventors and sci-fi, ultimately suggesting that graphic designers can all do work that serves the needs of society.
Firing off quotable one-liners (many of which were tweeted by Oliver Oike with the hashtag #designingforchange), she encouraged designers to adopt the prescient nature of Nikola Tesla, Grace Hopper and Frank Lloyd Wright, among others.
She had practical pointers, too. When a client expects a few options, make at least one of them push the envelope, reflecting "the futurist in you," she advised.
Many designers and entrepreneurs are already accomplishing just that – making beautiful lamps from discarded plastic bottles and doing double-duty by creating fruit stickers that transform into bio fruit wash.
"What I get excited about is when designers have these parameters and they just excel," she enthused.
Elliott performed double-duty herself, returning to the Princess Street campus of Red River College the following day. Whereas Wednesday's evening crowd was an intimate gathering, the branding workshop with Creative Communications turned out to be a larger crowd, with plenty of participation.
GDC Manitoba was privileged to have this innovative speaker and we'd do well to remember her message: What does a sustainability-minded professional answer when a client asks why they need a designer in the first place? "I can design the future for you" is the answer, according to Elliott.