Students Contribute to History of Canadian Design

University of Alberta class project studies designers' styles

Above: Posters on display in the hallways
of the Visual Communication Design studio,
University of Alberta

Canadian designers are not often widely noted for contributing to the design scene in North America and yet many of them are influential, having made large contributions to the design community in Canada and abroad.

Project objective

The objective for students in this project was to heighten students and their classmates’ awareness of visual communication design in Canada. They researched a Canadian designer that they had been assigned (from the list below), explored their work as being influential in the history of Canadian visual communication design and then visualized their research in the form of an poster or display that is in the style of the designer’s work.

Students then designed a poster which visually communicated all aspects of their own content. 

The design of the final poster was designed in the style of the designer that they studied. For example, use a very illustrative style for a type designer that illustrates by hand. The final piece was mounted on black foam core for inclusion in a class display. The final poster was 16”w x 20”h.

Below is a list of the designers that were provided and some of the best design solutions.

This project was developed by Judy Armstrong, CGD and Gillian Harvey, CGD instructors in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta. It was inspired by existing projects done by students about Canadian designers over the years.

These students were part of the Systems and Concepts class in the Bachelor of Design program in the Department of Art and Design, University of Alberta.  In this course, students explore systems approaches to work and there is an emphasis on concept development, critical thinking, typography and information design.


Paul Arthur FGDC
Allan Fleming FGDC
Hans Kleefeld
Burton Kramer FGDC
Stuart Ash FGDC
Jim Donahue and Ralph Tibbles
Don Watt
Marian Bantjes
Louis Fishauf
Bruce Mau
David Berman FGDC
Carl Dair FGDC

Type designers

Rod McDonald FGDC
Jim Rimmer FGDC
Ross Mills


Images / Student designer

Don Watt –  by Melody Zhou

David Coates FGDC –  by Kim Vanderhalm

Burton Kramer FGDC –  by James Barone

Carl Dair FGDC – by Linnea Lapp

Marion Bantjes – by  Joe Watterson


Gillian Harvey CGD, MA (UK) is an Information Design instructor at the Department of Art and Design, U of A. A project-based art director, her core capabilities include clear language, data visualization, standards and procedural information, way finding and typography.