From the President: 2014, A Year in Review

2014 was an active year for GDC. Read why the past year was a year for the history books.

Every year, GDC helps connect designers, recognize great talent, build tools for better business practices, and inspire new generations of creative professionals — but to do that, it takes the collaborative efforts of an army of dedicated and passionate volunteers, partners, friends and members all over Canada. I want to thank each of our GDC members, volunteers and partners across this country who helped make 2014 such a busy year. Thank you!

Advocacy: Canada 150, History Repeating Itself

Early in 2014 GDC began a petition in response to the Canadian government’s attempts to develop a logo for Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations. With the support of designers across the country, media, and the public, the government abandoned their original plan and the project appeared to go into hibernation. Fast forward to this December and we discovered that the government had revived the Canada 150 project, but this time replaced a flawed and broken internal system with an exploitative speculative contest aimed at Canadian students. Once GDC learned of this outrageous spec contest, we acted swiftly and decisively to mobilize over 5,000 Canadians of all stripes to petition the government to stop the spec contest before it becomes an embarrassing legacy. If you haven’t already, sign the petition and ask your friends and family to do the same at: — the more signatures we obtain the more the government will hear us. The issue caught the attention of the local and national media — I shared GDC’s efforts on CBC Radio’s All In A Day afternoon radio show and in a feature length article in the Ottawa Citizen (by @ButlerDon). Since then Mark Busse CGD, FGDC, Stuart Ash FGDC, and many others have taken to the internet and TV to show support for the petition.

I was asked once if there is any hope of changing the government’s position on this issue — I absolutely believe there is. It is the people that decide the fate of this great country — so it’s up to us to rally together and let our government know how serious this issue is.

Advocacy: Unpaid Internships

In January of 2014 I had the pleasure of meeting with the Ontario Minister of Labour (then Hon. Yasir Naqvi, MPP ) to discuss internships in Ontario. I shared GDC’s guide for internship best practices in our industry and the Minister shared the Ontario Government’s plans for developing province wide best practices for internships. Thanks to Rick Strong in Ottawa for arranging the meeting and sharing the passion for protecting the interests of Ontario’s interns.

Events, events and more events.

GDC’s chapters are hugely active across this country. Hosting a range of events from PechaKucha nights and socials to skills & professional development workshops and major creative conferences, there is likely a GDC event happening near you almost every other month of the year. This year, PICA, hosted by GDC Alberta North, opened to sell out crowds. The annual conference, which focuses on industry trends, professional development, networking and education, is one of Western Canada’s largest creative conferences. If you attended this year, send me a photo of your most memorable conference moment and we’ll add them to the website.

Graphex, GDC’s bi-annual national premier award show was also held in Alberta North this year — read all about it and see the winners here. Graphex seeks to recognize this country’s top creative talent in categories ranging from Web and UX to print and packaging.

GDC also held its annual National Scholarship Awards in partnership with Canada Type and the GDC Foundation. I had the pleasure of judging again this year and I was astounded at the sophistication and level of talent being demonstrated by Canada’s design students — see the winning entries from 2014 here. I can’t wait to see next year’s entries!

In June, GDC’s National Council convened for the 2014 GDC Annual General Meeting — this time in Ottawa. It was a tremendous success and wonderful to have representatives from chapters across Canada descend on my hometown. The working sessions were very productive and we mapped out an entire year’s worth of initiatives and activities in a single concentrated planning day. Well done all.

Survey says...

This fall we launched Creative Trends, GDC’s first national employment and earnings survey for the visual communication industry. Since launch we’ve had an overwhelming response to the survey. I’m proud to say that we have collected statistically relevant data from every province and territory in Canada — a truly national survey. This will be the most comprehensive and up to date snapshot of employment in our industry. We expect to share the results after the survey closes early next year. Thank you to our survey partners: Applied Arts, Industry Mailout, Masterfile, SDGQ, CAPIC, GitHub and Tridem. If you haven’t yet filled out the survey (available in both French and English) you still have a chance! Visit:   — of the completed surveys and contest entries there will be a draw for an iPad Mini, or  $600 Apple Store gift card.

House Cleaning

It’s always healthy for an organization like GDC to review internal processes with an eye for doing more of what works and fix what could be working better. Implementing our new streamlined membership level changes was one of those exercises. This involved synchronizing membership dues and refining membership categories across the country. As a result of those efforts, being a GDC Member or CGD certified designer is now a more cohesive and unified experience — regardless of where you live and work in this country. I want to thank all GDC chapters for supporting these changes and for working hard to make the transition.

A New Identity and New Website

In the spring, GDC launched a new identity and new website. This multi-year and monumental effort was the culmination of the volunteer efforts of many people over the past 4 years. You can read all about that process here. I want to thank John Ngan CGD and Dennis Boyle CGD for their hard work and creative insight, as well as our National Communication Committee, Matt Warburton CGD FGDC, Brenda Sanderson CGD, and GDC Executive Director Melanie MacDonald for helping shepherd that process.

With a new identity came an entirely new website, completely rebuilt. I had the pleasure of working with members of the Communications Committee, Web Committee, and new identity creative team to build and rebrand our primary web property. The results of this endeavour will allow GDC more flexibility and offer a richer experience for GDC members and site visitors. Have ideas that could improve our website? Contact me — we are always looking for your feedback.


GDC was busy establishing partnerships that further enrich our membership value proposition. One such partnership was developed with The Personal (home and auto insurance). The partnership provides members with the opportunity to take advantage of preferred group rates for home and auto insurance. The partnership provides benefits for members, while at the same time providing reciprocal sponsorship that helps fund GDC initiatives, events and activities. Click here for more details about the partnership.

We also welcomed Masterfile, DryRun, and PhotoHOP to the growing list of national partners that offer perks and savings to GDC members — thanks to Marga Lopez CGD for her help in liaising with Masterfile. A big thanks also goes to our newly minted (but old hat) VP of Partnership, Andy Maier CGD — who has helped secure a savings for members for the upcoming HOW conference and helped bring more cohesion to GDC’s national partnership efforts.

International Leadership

In the fall, GDC attended the Annual General Meeting for Ico-D (formerly Icograda) in New York City this October. GDC was invited to present Canada’s CGD Certification system to delegates from around the globe and participate in working groups that shared resources, tools and experiences on a variety of topics that affect professional associations in today’s market. Sharing Canada’s experiences and methods with other countries helps enrich the global design community. In return we learn about the challenges and opportunities that exist in other parts of the world — as well as best practices and insights that can be brought home to Canada. GDC has always supported the international design community and I was honoured to carry on that tradition.

I'll finish by thanking all of our chapters and members for their enthusiasm and support — GDC would not exist if it weren’t for our vibrant GDC member communities across Canada.

I look forward to the new year ahead, and all of the challenges and opportunities it will bring. I wish you wealth, prosperity and health for 2015!

Looking to get involved?

If you are a student, educator, professional designer or just someone who is passionate about design and doing interesting things to grow the Canadain design community, contact us!