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2022 Trailblazer Award Winners

The RGD launched the Student Trailblazer Awards as part of our 2021 Student Awards program to recognize and support students from underrepresented and marginalized communities. Congratulations to our 2022 RGD Student Trailblazer Award-winners! Each of our winners received a $1,000 cash prize, through the support of our 2022 Student Awards sponsors.

“For students with systemic barriers, the already demanding journey of design school can become that much heavier,” says Wendy Gray RGD. “Together with our generous sponsors, we are thrilled to launch the Trailblazer Awards to acknowledge and celebrate students from marginalized and underrepresented communities. It's our hope that these Awards will help to support the winners in covering the costs of their design education and recognize their design skills, hard work and resilience.”
Preview of Buddee Nature School's website Buddee Nature School

Tiffany Zhong Student RGD, Capilano University, Vancouver, BC (2024 grad)

As the first person in her family to attend university, for Tiffany, getting the chance to pursue something she is passionate about is a complete privilege. She's not taking a moment of design school for granted after meandering down paths in linguistics, law and strategic communications before finally finding her way back to her original dream of becoming a visual creative who creates functional, beautiful things.

Untwist The Truth – Reconciliation Project
(Completed with Anaïs Bayle and Ethan Woronko)

The target audience was the Canadian public who grew up with an educational curriculum that erased indigenous history or told a one-sided colonial version of that history. Our challenge was creating a campaign that could capture people's attention without being too shaming or triggering. We used the concept of a ripped textbook page with strong colour contrast to graphically show how the truth was twisted. The main copy is short so people can read it at a glance and then find out more on the website we designed. There's also a social media component for people to continue the conversation.

The Alchemist Book Cover Redesign

This cover is a redesign for the international bestseller The Alchemist, an allegorical novel that delves into self-discovery. The challenge was creating a cover that represented the allegorical novel in a way that hinted at some elements in the story different from what has been done previously. In the past, covers featured red or yellow prominently and stayed rather monochrome. I went for more colour to give it a different shelf-appeal while still depicting the story within one image.

Buddee Nature School

Buddee is a K-Grade 7 outdoor school that grounds itself in land-based learning and encourages kids to connect to themselves and the land they live and learn on. The target audience was parents and children. The challenge was to not lean too young. The soft yet bold shapes of the logo give off a fun tone. On materials both print and digital, I worked to balance the whimsical parts with bold type so parents can easily find information they need.

Educator Support: Tom Duguid, Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Dominique Walker and Pascal Milelli

Three (3) packaging skus for Chirpit Chirpit: Cricket Flour Pasta

Michelle Viet, Capilano University, Vancouver, BC (2023 grad)

Michelle's upbeat and enthusiastic attitude toward design can be felt in everything she puts out (including her emails, which may include more exclamation marks than necessary!) A dedicated designer, she finds satisfaction in creating thoughtful solutions that delight and elevate the user’s experience. Michelle strives to continue putting out her best and is excited about what her future in design holds.

Famcafe: Family manual and task tracking app

The target audience is mothers and/or homemakers struggling with mental load. A challenge I faced was figuring out how to ease their struggle while not completely eliminating the importance of their partners. My design solution helps keep the fathers/partners, who may be less involved in household duties, in the loop without having to be constantly "nagged" at, which is a point of tension in many relationships.

Chirpit: Cricket Flour Pasta

Chirpit’s target market is adventurous, health-conscious North Americans who are always looking for ways to live healthier, more sustainable lifestyles. A key challenge was that, while this target group may be open to trying new things, trying crickets, which is not part of North American food culture, might be difficult. The target audience will appreciate knowing that crickets are more environmentally-friendly to produce than livestock and even yield more protein content than them. Chirpit strives to make consuming cricket flour something to feel good about; both in regards to the consumer's personal health and the well-being of the planet.

Educator Support: Dominque Walker, Paul Brokenshire and Christina Lee Kim Koon

Preview of Creatures of the Coast Website on desktop and laptop screens. Creatures of The Coast

Bella Sanchez, Wilson School of Design, Richmond, BC (2024)

Bella is a multidisciplinary graphic designer with a background in digital and film photography. She finds developing a project from the research stages to reality greatly satisfying and fully recognizes the importance and necessity of the creative process. With a fine eye for detail integrated with insatiable curiosity and ambition, Bella is driven to create designs that will both galvanize and inspire people.


For this fictitious project, the key challenge was to take an ancient nordic tale and transform it into a vibrant book without resorting to standard folklore motifs. The psychology of the design system weaves through the deafening emotional tones throughout the story. The deep purples spread across the book links to the loud portrayal of death and power brought on by Fenrir. While the neon yellow contrasts with emotions of energy and strength to create a powerful, complimentary colour palette. Giving a nod to the age of the story, the bold black lettering is inspired by ancient nordic ruins, while the serif typeface portrays traditional elements.

Selcouth Coffee Labs

This a fictitious coffee company is rooted in the journey of creating fine and unique mushroom coffee blends to bring forth the health benefits of mushrooms. The two target audiences are The Foragers and The Wanders. Foragers are 25 to 55 years old, seeking out unconventional health options to further maintain their health conscious lifestyles. They are liberal spenders and enjoy spending time in the BC wilderness. The Wanders are 23 to 37, open to trying new flavours when opportunities present but rarely seeking out alternative options. They have a flexible spending budget on products that pique their interest. The challenge was to create unique coffee packaging that would stand out. I started by building on the meaning behind the brand (strange, unusual, rare, unfamiliar) and went with an electric colour system. It is then paired with a mycelium root patten to pay tribute to the mysteries and wonder fungi represent. To advance the visual clarity of the type mushroom within each flavour, I design neo-vintage-inspired fungi illustrations and 1940's inspired labels that take on a galvanic modern twist.

Bella Sanchez Website

The goal of this project was to create a portfolio website for my creative work.

Creatures of the Coast

Coastline Surf & Sport is a small sporting goods business based in Victoria, BC. They offer the best in surfboards, wetsuits, SUP (Stand-Up- Paddleboard) accessories, skateboards, clothes and shoes. All while following their goal to “live the west coast lifestyle” and help other experience it. Their target market can be categorized into two groups with the primary audience being The Mavericks and secondary The Dendrophiles. The Mavericks are between the ages of 20 to 40, 60% male and 40% female. They have an average income of 40-80k/year and are extroverted thrill seekers who relish in the adrenaline created by primarily surfing then snowboarding and/or skateboarding. The Dendrophiles are 18 to 28, 50% female and 50% male. They earn an average income of 20-70k/year and cautiously enjoy finding adventures along the west coast. The challenge was to create a comprehensive campaign that built off and visual represented the goal of the company to “live the west coast lifestyle” and help others experience it. My solution presents a loud and extroverted design system with orange hues, hand rendered type and dynamic textures helping present feelings of familiarity and passion across the campaign. I then paired black and white ambiguous photography to further elevate the idea that anyone can become a Coastal Creature.

Three (3) Enchanté Drag Informative Books with the titles "The Her-story", "The Pre-sent", and "The Fu-ture". Enchanté Drag Informative Books

Bao Anh (Felix) Nguyen Provisional RGD, George Brown College, Toronto, ON (2022 grad)

I am currently working as a designer at The Workhouse, a Toronto-based design agency. The idea of solving problems through visual language has always been exciting to me. Growing up as a queer kid in Vietnam, I didn’t always have the best resources to be creative or learn about design. But moving to Canada at the age of 18 played a big part in helping me become the designer I am today. I always try to represent my culture and community the best as I can through my work to let more people know about the importance of representation. I hope to be able to keep doing what I love and inspire people with similar backgrounds to pursue the creative path.

Enchanté Drag Kit

For my thesis project, I focused on the art form of drag. My target audience is creative individuals who are interested in trying out the art form but lack the resources and time to do it. The Enchanté Drag Kit consists of originally branded cosmetic products that are made for drag performers, as well as printed booklets on the art form of drag so people can read more about its origins, its current impact and how it's evolving for the future

Enchanté Website

One of the deliverables for my thesis project was a website where people can order the Enchanté box kit and its products. They can also customize based on preferences and take a short quiz to find out what their potential drag aesthetic might be as well as learn more about the brand.

Enchanté Drag Informative Booklets

This series of educational booklets present the past, present and future of drag. The booklets are part of an informative all-in-one drag kit for young creatives to try out drag and learn more about this fascinating art form. The sparkling holographic texture captures the glamour in drag.

Tet : 70-day Project

The brief was to do something creative for 70 days straight. I decided to design a lucky money envelope every day using only geometric and organic shapes along with 2 to 5 colours and minimal typography. The designs are illustrative and mainly have familiar images, iconography and sceneries from Vietnamese culture. Each design has different compositions or styles while still following the guidelines. Giving out lucky money is a big tradition in Vietnamese culture, therefore this project is for kids to adults who enjoy the tradition. The envelopes and gift boxes are colourful and fun and are great for promoting my country's amazing culture.

Educator Support: Nicole Dimson RGD and Kristine Do

Two (2) Denture Cleaner packaging boxes Smile Denture Cleaner Packaging

Carla Jacobs, York University/Sheridan College, Oakville, Ontario (2022) 

Carla's work explores accessibility, equity and how to make everyday things better whilst experimenting with colour, form and medium whenever possible. Along with digital design, Carla is passionate about textile art, printmaking, embroidery writing. She is currently pursuing her Master of Marketing at the Schulich School of Business and hopes to one day pursue a career in Design Research.

Reclaim Pride

As Pride Month continues to be more and more commercialized, it has become incredibly difficult for those supportive of Pride and the LGBTQ+ community to determine which companies are actually creating an impact for the community and which ones are just putting on a show. As part of my final, year-long thesis project, I developed a mobile interface prototype that would enable consumers to see how their favourite companies score on factors of treatment of (LGBTQ+) employees, historical relationships with the community, contributions to the community, year-round support and Pride Month support. Deliverables included an interactive prototype, poster and a video walkthrough of the interface.

Tall Paul

The goal of this children's book was to develop a book in an experimental format that would impact how the content was displayed and the reader was meant to interact with the final deliverable, creating a sense of exploration. I created the story with the message of self-acceptance as a theme throughout, filling it positive messages from start to finish. The final piece measures 8.25×3.5″ and is saddle-stitched. All illustrations were drawn by me on Illustrator. There are various interactive features, such as fold-outs, cut away pages and a dress-up feature.

Smile Denture Cleaner Packaging

The concept of the project was based on the flaws of existing denture cleaner packaging: considerations such as impaired hand strength, limited dexterity and visual impairments that may affect the target audience and which are not being adequately addressed in products currently on the market. Smile Denture Cleaner’s design targets these factors by eliminating difficult tabs, with a pull-off external lid and flip-open internal packages. All of the featured text on the package is generously-sized and spaced and the dental cleaner itself opens in a single tear-out motion as it is removed from its packaging (as opposed to a package that requires fine motor skills to tear open or pop out).

Educator Support: Albert Ng RGD Emeritus, Reg Beatty and Renée Alleyn