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2023 Trailblazer Award Winners

Congratulations to our 2023 RGD Student Trailblazer Award Winners! Each winner receives a $1,000 cash prize, through the support of our 2023 Trailblazer Awards sponsors.

A branch of the Student Awards, the Trailblazer Awards celebrate and recognize design students from marginalized communities. 

Photo fo Bungled and Botched Project

April Dang Student RGD, York University, Toronto, ON

April is a 3rd year design student specializing in print media, typography and branding design. Through her work, she hopes to bring about positive change in our society and facilitate better communication.

Bungled and Botched

'Bungled and Botched' is an editorial featuring two interwoven essays about Francis Bacon's ongoing work. It employs French folding, with translucent vellum pages that can be torn open to reveal the content. The outer and inner essays explore different facets of Bacon's life and legacy. The book's material choices, including tearing and layered translucence, along with a mylar cover, aim to capture the visceral essence of Bacon's art.

Photo of Knives Out project

Nieves Rocillo, York University, Toronto, ON 

With experience in branding and a love for all things print, Nieves is committed to creating designs that solve problems and tell compelling stories. Finding beauty in the little things is her lifelong mission, and something she enjoys exploring in her work. She believes that best design solutions always come from a place of empathy and gentle curiosity.

Knives Out Title Sequence

This title sequence, created for Rian Johnson's acclaimed film "Knives Out" (2019), caters to all age groups. Using motion, typography and illustration, it depicts symbolism and foreshadowing to set the tone. The objective of this under 2-minute sequence is to engage and excite the audience. The graphics synchronize with the lively soundtrack, starting dramatically, building tension and culminating in a climactic finish, heightening anticipation for the film.

Re-orient booklet covers

Kendra Legault Provisional RGD, George Brown College, Toronto, ON

Kendra is passionate about design and eager to embark on a creative journey after recently graduating. Her deep interest in the convergence of identity and design informs all aspects of her work.


Re-Orient is a series of booklets aiming to educate designers about Chop Suey fonts' impact on the East-Asian diaspora and cultural representation. It prompts designers to reflect on biases and the influence of design choices. The booklets employ stereotypical visual elements inspired by Chinese restaurant menus and medicine packaging, facilitating immediate recognition. As readers engage with the content, they're led to question their initial biases, fostering awareness and critical thinking among designers.

Photo of beer mixer packaging

Ellie Kim Student RGD, Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Richmond, BC

Ellie is a Vancouver-based graphic designer. With a solution based design approach, she delves into the details of each project to provide timeless and captivating designs that are rooted in purpose and story telling.

Brewed In Tune Series

The Brewed In Tune Series is a beer mixer pack that caters to music and beer enthusiasts, celebrating the strong connection between the two. It utilizes bold, vibrant colours, retro graphics, and patterns reminiscent of the 70s, with each flavour drawing inspiration from a music genre, reflected in its colour combination. The packaging creates a multi-sensory experience, blending beer taste, visuals and music bringing people together.

Gradshow Poster

Rachel De Freitas, Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Richmond, BC

Rachel is a Panamanian-born Canadian graphic designer who finds it inspiring and empowering that her work has the potential to bring solutions beyond aesthetics. Her approach often merges minimalism with diversity and a distinct sense of play. Through her work, she aims to deliver imaginative solutions to complex problems in the freshest and clearest visual form.


The WATCHOUT campaign is designed to promote the Wilson School of Design's 2023 graduating class. It incorporates a modern-vintage style inspired by 1960s design patterns, featuring organic, textured graphics with eye motifs representing graduates' industry focus and future solutions. The campaign includes an extensive set of collaterals serving teasers leading up to the in-person event.


Rethink, lg2, hcma, Jacknife, Design de Plume