Inspired by… GDC

By October 28, 2011Blog, GDC, Inspired By

I’m continuing my ‘Inspired By’ series with a shout out to the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC), and most especially all of the dedicated folks currently serving on the Manitoba Chapter executive — I’m really honoured to volunteer alongside all of them.

I first became a member of the GDC back when I was in first-year college (for you history buff’s out there, that would have been 95/96), and I’ve been a member ever since. Why?

I think the reasons have changed over the years. When I first joined as a student, it was a pretty great way to gain access to the design community in Winnipeg. By attending the various professional development and mixer events, I got to meet potential employers. I also got the benefits of being part of a professional body. In a way, it was an extension of the education that I was receiving at Red River College.

After graduation, as I grew up as a designer (from Junior, to Intermediate, to Senior and within the GDC, from Student member, to Graduate, to LGDC and finally to MGDC – now known as CGD or Certified Graphic Designer), I continued to maintain that connection with the design community… attending our Blue Sky Design Conferences, going out to events, taking advantage of the professional development lunchtalks whenever they interested me, etc. I’ll be honest, there were some years where I didn’t participate much… but I always felt it worthwhile to stay a member.

Now, 13 years out of college, and working as a Creative Director & Account Manager, I consider myself a leader within our design community. Now I don’t mean that I’m the best designer out there, or that I own my own studio, or that I’ve won amazing amounts of awards and had my work published… but what I do mean is that I really value the chance to be a mentor and to share the knowledge that I’ve gained to date. It’s important to me to do my little part to help push the design profession forward in Canada, and to maintain the ethics of the GDC while doing so. It’s an amazing opportunity to link up with design professionals across the country, and with other design organizations like AIGA and Icograda.

I guess the last thing I want to say is that you get out of an organization what you put into it.

Now that I’m volunteering on the board, I’m seeing so much more benefit in it. There’s something to be said for hearing firsthand what our Chapters across the country are dealing with – their successes, their challenges, etc. Am I drinking the Koolaid? Maybe so. But it sure tastes good.

The Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) is a member-based organization of design professionals, educators, administrators, students and associates in communications, marketing, media and design related fields.

Since 1956, the GDC has been an advocate, voice and resource for Canada’s graphic design profession. We are a national certified body of graphic designers promoting high standards of visual design and ethical business practices for the benefit of Canadian industry, commerce, public service and education. Through the media, publications, seminars, events, conferences and exhibits, the GDC builds awareness of graphic design and its essential role in business and society.

The GDC has more than 1,300 members in 9 chapters across Canada and members at large nationally and internationally. In addition to our professional members, we are also lucky to have several hundred student members.


  • Well stated! I’ll raise my glass of Koolaid and toast with you anytime… cheers!

  • Evan Kuz says:

    I completely agree, well said Karen. It’s always good to remember that during that period when you first join, so much of what you get is provided by those designers who are at a stage where they love what they do and love to share what they know. So now it’s our turn to do the same, and to keep the cycle alive. Plus it’s just funny to see how young the new crop of designers are!

    • Karenia says:

      Thanks Evan… and by the way, you were one of the GDC folks that I looked up to back when I was a young designer just out of college. So thanks for that! And see? We’re still friends!

  • Evan Kuz says:

    PS – Karen for President…

  • Oliver Oike says:

    Thanks so much for this Karen. You know how I feel about this, and how critical it is for senior folks in the industry to shape the conversation for the next generation(s) coming up. The GDC is theirs to own; posts like this will hopefully awaken that possibility in their minds.

    • Karenia says:

      Your welcome. I do know how you feel about this… I think the more we can create dialogue about why designers choose to be members (and why they don’t), the better chance we’ll have to grow our membership.

  • Paul Tétrault says:

    I love purple Koolaid. Cheers.

  • Dean McNeill says:

    Well put Karen!

    My path within the GDC was similar, as a recent grad it just seemed like smart, natural step to join the national organization representing my chosen profession. I attended some events and benefited greatly from the networking and sense of belonging it afforded.

    Years later I pretty much backed into helping a bit here and there, joined the local executive at a helper-level and somehow found myself Chapter President in a few years. A pinnacle to me, a position that would be a memorable, defining accomplishment.

    One National AGM later and I tasted a far more potent kool-aid. Just one AGM. That’s all it took to expose me to a group of driven, passionate, incredible design practitioners working tirelessly for their members and the profession. Just being in the same room as these people was intoxicating!

    Now, as a Past National President, I look at my joining of the GDC as the best professional and personal growth decision I have ever made, bar none.

    • Karenia says:

      Thanks Dean for sharing your path with the GDC. It’s inspiring. Funny, I had the chance to attend the most recent AGM that took place in Manitoba as an Observer, and that is what got me super excited about the GDC (and is what ultimately caused me to get more involved). You described it perfectly.

  • Dean Van De Walle says:

    awesome post Karen, I’m of the same mind as you, and in fact with some of my jobs being as “in house” creative I found the GDC to be a good way to keep in touch with the rest of the industry, and up to date on what was actually going on.

  • I became a member because, after a few years living in Canada, I wanted an opportunity to get to know other designers and to contribute a little bit to the welfare of the profession. Designers contribute tremendous value to the structure and substance of the world and I feel like the GDC represents the local and national design community in a consistent and powerful way. It’s not perfect, but the organization benefits designers–and is able to bring a pretty introverted group of people together.

  • carl shura says:

    It’s nice to know that my sense of the GDC’s value and its potential isn’t far from your own sentiments and experience; as a 2nd year student at RedRiverCollege, and now 2 year member of GDCmb, it’s also nice to see those on the same path ahead are cheering us on :)

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