a journey to support a healthy world through graphic design
presentation / workshop by Emrys Damon Miller
We face many challenges today. Our ecosystems are being damaged by unsustainable resource extraction, pollution, and short-sighted development. Our physical health deteriorates while we sit for hours before glowing screens, craving sugary, fatty, processed foods. Religions lose their followers, leaving us unclear in our spiritual community. And we still face unnecessary ignorance — whether it be racism, sexism, homophobia or class issues, or the idea that climate change is neither our fault nor our problem.
Most design studios make their primary money by supporting a global consumer economy which encourages many of the problems above, rather than solving them. Talented designers create marketing campaigns promoting the idea that a fancier car, a bigger house, high heeled shoes, celebrity-endorsed lipstick, more cable channels or luxurious vacations will deliver what we want and need in life. But this has created an unhealthy culture of irresponsible excess.
Emrys Damon Miller runs the Rocketday Arts studio, which aims to create a financially healthy business, supporting the health and prosperity of its employees, collaborators and clients — all while working exclusively on projects which help make the world a healthier place. Emrys is also the President of the Graphic Designers of Canada, Vancouver Island Chapter.
Many designers describe mixed feelings about whether their core client work is truly good for the world, and so, separate from their client work, they donate 5–10% of their efforts to charity, “giving back”. Emrys challenges this flawed model, working to simply have 100% of Rocketday’s work uncompromised in its support of a healthier world, while also profitable.
In this presentation or workshop, Emrys shares the many successes and challenges of Rocketday over its first 17 years, as well as the obstacles they continue to face. He speaks candidly about financial struggles, the marriage of business and personal life, and how to bring a utopic vision to the forefront of a design studio’s service. Participants learn from Rocketday’s successes and failures, and will see how they too can align their company’s focus and culture to their own vision of a healthier world.
Available as a 6 minute PechaKucha; a 20 minute or 45 minute presentation;
or as a 2-hour interactive workshop with groups of 3–25 people.
about the presenter / workshop facilitator
Emrys Damon Miller, CGD
Emrys is the founder/director or Rocketday Arts, a small, boutique studio located in Victoria, BC, Canada. Since opening in 1999, Rocketday focuses exclusively on projects which aim to build a healthier planet, directly addressing several global issues: over-consumption, the threats to ecological health, war, poor education, and the need for spiritual and cultural health. The studio is profitable and widely respected for the quality of their work.
Rocketday’s clients include those who help protect our ecology (Sierra Club of Canada, ForestEthics, WorldChanging, BC Parks); those who nurture arts and culture (Transmission Global Summit, Innovations en concert, Victoria Film Festival); those who help build the internet (Google, Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems); those who educate (Skeptic magazine, University of Victoria, State University of New York); and those who explore our spiritual health (Ascent magazine, Humanist Perspectives magazine).
Emrys has received awards for his work in photography, illustration, and website design, and most notably in graphic design. He is currently the President of the Graphic Designers of Canada, Vancouver Island Chapter, and has served on the GDC’s National Sustainability Committee, and is engaged in the international design community, attending ICOGRADA events (Nagoya, Japan; Havana, Cuba; etc) and working with collaborators across Canada and the USA.
He lives and works by the ocean with his wife, twin daughters, and their shaggy dog.
Rocketday Arts : www.rocketday.com
Rocketday’s journal Where We Go From Here : www.wwgfh.com
Emrys’ personal blog : www.emrysdamonmiller.com
“Emrys was a guest speaker in my Fine Arts 101: Creative Being class. Before a diverse group of 160 students, he delivered a dynamic presentation, accompanied by many images and examples of his own work, that charted his educational experiences and his career as a graphic designer. His confident and candid delivery, supported by a well-organized and eye-catching presentation, inspired students to reflect on how they might navigate the joys and challenges of an ever-changing creative economy when they graduate.”
— David Leach,
Director Interdisciplinary Minor in Technology & Society,
University of Victoria
“The story of how Emrys Miller founded Rocketday Arts is a remarkable example of how to follow your heart and still make a living at it. The terrific talk makes it clear that you can be a designer and not sell out your values in the doing.”
— Patrick Foster,
Professor of Graphic Design,
Vancouver Island University
“The presentation was both eye opening and gives me hope for the future of design.”
— Dakota DenDuyf,
BA Graphic Design graduating student,
Vancouver Island University
“Emrys was an excellent speaker. He took the time to share his experiences and lend great advice to the audience of new designers, inspiring creativity and conversation.”
— Aaron Heppell,
President, Society of Graphic Designers of Canada,
Vancouver Island Chapter
“Emrys speaks with passion and commitment to our trade. He is skilled and knowledgable with valuable insight to share. His honesty is paramount next to his friendly, open demeanour.”
— Jackie Duys-Kelly,
Nanaimo Design Nerds
September 2014 through present :
hosting multiple GDC events
@ multiple venues, Victoria, BC;
producing, curating and emceeing a series of events for the Graphic Designers of Canada, including Girlhood (110 attendees), 99u Local Victoria (110 attendees), The Art of the Beer Label (110 attendees), and a Master Class with Robert Bringhurst
September 2014 : Thinklandia "By Design"
@ Thinklandia/Rifflandia festival, Victoria, BC;
a presentation and panel discussion on the culture of design both locally and globally
April 2014 : VIU Graduation Keynote
@ Vancouver Island Conference Centre, Nanaimo, BC;
presented by Vancouver Island University (Art & Design Program)
and the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada
September 2011 : Healthy by Nature
@ Creekside Centre, Vancouver, BC;
at the Healthy by Nature forum, presented the Among Nature web platform and hosted a discussion about technology to connect citizens with their local parks
March 2011 : Fine Arts 101 Creative Being
@ University of Victoria, Victoria, BC;
guest presentation at Fine Arts 101: Creative Being class
February 2010 : Pecha Kucha Victoria
@ Victoria Event Centre, Victoria, BC;
one of 15 designers, artists and architects presenting at the inaugural Pecha Kucha of Victoria
April 2007 : Change Conference
@ Glenlyon School, Victoria, BC;
co-presented with Valerie Elliott (of ID2 Communications)
at this international conference organized by students,
also featuring Phan Thi Kim Phuc, Alan Clements and Dr William E Rees
April 2006 : Tech Talk
@ Chateau Victoria, Victoria, BC;
a panel presentation on web standards and accessible design,
presented by the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada