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InspirationJul 03, 2023

Designers inspiring designers

Written by Karen Ng-Hem RGD, Stephanie Strawbridge RGD, Gov of Nova Scotia, and Taralyn Carver RGD
business cards for the Coalition for Engaged Education Branding for the Coalition for Engaged Education by BLOK

RGD women designers share the work of fellow designers who keep them motivated to be bold with their creativity and strive to be their best selves.

Taralyn Carver RGD

Co-founder and Creative Director, BOLD LIP

Through design and creative direction, Taralyn makes beautiful experiences for her clients and their audience. At BOLD LIP, she leads exceptionally talented women and brings seriously fun brands to life. BOLD LIP is a creative studio with combined expertise in many channels and industries, offering visual and messaging support to brands at their inception, refreshing their identity or maintaining a well-loved presence.

Inspiration: Meg! Lewis

Illustration examples by Meg Lewis Sticker Pack for Pinterest

Meet Meg! Lewis. Meg is a brand designer creating experiences for companies that affect positive change. They're known for a bold and personable aesthetic, combining abstract design with bright colours and friendly characters — creating a uniquely fun universe with everything she touches. She's a proud member of Co-Loop, an artist-forward agency (shout out to other remarkable womxn designers: Cymone Wilder, Morgan Harper Nichols, Lauren Hom + Lisa Congdon) and Ghostly Ferns. She's also the host of a comedy mindfulness podcast called Sit There & Do Nothing and was the former host of (my favourite design podcast of all time) Dribbble's Overtime. I admire that Meg! is always her authentic self, embracing nonconformity and promoting individuality. As a creative — they're constantly bringing whimsical design to many diverse applications, be it interiors, fashion, podcasts or social content. Meg! makes design accessible — sharing her knowledge and process and leaving pretense at the door. A trained comedian, Meg! not only makes design fun, fashionable and approachable — they make it humorous! Love. Fun fact: Notice the interchanging pronouns? Meg! identifies as a non-binary creative and prefers to mix up the pronouns — having fun with it! I respect it.

Karen Ng-Hem RGD

President + Creative Director, Karen Ng-Hem Inc

Karen is a creative director x idea generator based in Toronto, passionate about designing publications and creating ‘Design for Public Good’. For 20 years she has developed a reputation in the architecture and wider design industry for her intuitive and multidisciplinary approach — specifically her sophisticated use of colour, spatial clarity and clean lines. In her free time, she writes about and chronicles her life through design.

Inspiration: Vanessa Eckstein RGD

CEE Branding by blok design Branding for the Coalition for Engaged Education

I remember seeing Vanessa and her work enter the design scene in the early 2000s. As a fellow RGD, I’m inspired by how she founded BLOK at a time when there were very few women running design companies. In a recent podcast, Vanessa shared the challenges (and learning) that come with running your own business and the preconceptions that exist of women that inhabit the creative space. How economics and creativity are not mutually exclusive, but interconnected. The difference between cost and value; and how there’s no line of those who “succeed” and those “who don’t”. Success comes — if we participate. She moved the entire studio to work out of Berlin for two months — to reinvigorate the team, explore new perspectives and break the barrier of embracing the unknown. It cost a fortune — the tickets, apartments (some of her employees had never even left Ontario!), office space — and it wasn’t perceived as a “financially sound” decision. Then Covid hit. What at first sounded absurd, was now brilliant and pivoted them into success working through the pandemic. It also boosted their mental health during lockdown to reminisce with each other about their time spent together in Berlin. With clients who are hesitant to take risks in design or business, Vanessa’s response is —“What risk? If it aligns with what your values are and what you believe…then it’s not a risk — it’s moving forward.” I love that! Seeing another female entrepreneur (here in Toronto) succeed, gave me confidence to also keep pursuing my passion for design and my own practice.

Stephanie Strawbridge RGD

Communication Designer for the Government of Nova Scotia

Stephanie is a marketing professional and member of the Analytics and Information Management team at the Government of Nova Scotia. She considers her warmest compliment to be from Adam Rallo RGD while volunteering with the RGD: “While Stephanie is a strong designer, she is stronger as a human being. Her convictions run deep and she demonstrates this integrity with her community involvement and considerate interactions with others. Not surprisingly, she handles pressure and criticism with grace."

Inspiration: Giorgia Lupi

Information Design example by Giorgia Lup Giorgia Lupi and Kaki King — Bruises: The Data We Don’t See

To me, successful design should provoke a response, embrace complexity and seek context. I believe Giorgia demonstrates this well. She is an Italian information designer and partner at Pentagram. Specializing in data visualization, she has worked with Google, United Nations and IBM. Specifically, she developed the IBM Design Language, an extensive visual asset library for over 1,000 software products. Giorgia also launched Friends in Space, a social network that sends digital messages to the International Space Station. Her work instills wonder in a world beyond us, while asserting our responsibility to those around us. No matter the application, she consistently advocates for the visual aggregation and analysis of data, while accentuating the human component. Likewise, in my career, I often ask 'how can design expedite altruistic goals?' Design is not merely an aesthetic outcome; It can appeal to logic and persuade thought. How can design facilitate interactions (seen) to inform ethics (unseen)? The seen is temporary, but the unseen is lasting. I want my work to incite the latter.

Cassandra Wesenhagen RGD

Brand Design Lead at Vucko

Cassandra is a brand-focused design director who likes to build little universes. Over the last decade, she’s been fortunate to work with industry leaders and challengers alike to create engaging identities, campaigns and products. In 2021, she moved from Toronto to Saskatoon and works remotely from the prairies.

Inspiration: Ayaka B. Ito

Layout spreads for Free magazine Layout spreads for Free magazine

Ayaka B. Ito is a brand and typeface designer based in New York City and Tokyo. She first popped up on my Instagram feed in 2020 and I’ve been hooked ever since. Her work is elegant and optimistic and each project has a unique, nuanced relationship to type. I’m inspired by her drive to integrate typeface design into her creative practice, a specialization that can feel a bit daunting to many designers. She says this drive partly comes from wanting to create “everything you see on a page”, including the type used in her designs and brand concepts. That holistic approach to projects completely resonates with me! Check out her Instagram and take a cruise through her portfolio.


Stephanie Strawbridge RGD

Gov of Nova Scotia

Stephanie earned a Bachelor of Design from York University, and a Digital Marketing certificate from the University of Toronto. Throughout her career, she's worked alongside major Canadian retailers (e.g. Tim Hortons, Best Buy, Shoppers Drug Mart, Home Hardware, Loblaws). Currently, she strives to create inclusive and accessible publications for the government. Whether in the private or public sector, Stephanie is passionate about creating intelligent, inclusive, and sustainable design.

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