GDC Fellow

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Catherine Garden, FGDC

Catherine Garden has been a cornerstone for the Alberta South Chapter since it was first initiated in 1992. She joined that same year and immediately became an active volunteer and advocate.

All these years later her commitment to the organization is still strong and we continue to rely on her experience and prudent judgement. Catherine has supported each Chapter President fully and has been the core strength of the local group for many years.

Catherine was President of the Alberta South Chapter from 1995-1996. She was National Treasurer from 1995-2000, and traveled for seven consecutive years to national planning meetings across Canada as an executive committee member. She served for eight years as the Alberta South Chapter Treasurer – 1998-2006. In 1999, she took the lead in organizing the very successful GDC national design conference "Peak '99" in Banff, Alberta.

It is impossible not to notice the overlaps and appreciate the multiple levels of responsibility she has carried for the organization.

When Catherine took on the role of National Treasurer, she inherited an inefficient record-keeping structure and she had to work very hard to create a sustainable system which would allow the organization to thrive and grow. Fiscal responsibility was a large part of Catherine’s focus as National Treasurer, and she is credited with having steered the organization through the rockiest period in its history.

When GDC plunged forward to create the Registered Society of Graphic Designers of Ontario, the first association of graphic designers to be able to offer professional accreditation to its members, GDC realized a dream of many years. Doing so, however, stretched the resources of GDC substantially. It was due to Catherine’s sound fiscal management during this period that the GDC survived. It is primarily in recognition of this achievement that she has been appointed as a Fellow of the organization.

Always eager to contribute her ideas, Catherine Garden is one of those special people who will follow up with her actions to see these ideas through to fruition. Her dedication to, and hard work for GDC over the years has been exceptional, and her volunteer spirit simply invaluable.

Professional Background

Catherine Garden was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. She received her diploma from the Alberta College of Art where she was enrolled in the 4-year Visual Communications program. She graduated in 1983, then chose to further her studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York from 1989 to 1990 as a full-time Advertising student in their media arts program.

Catherine's design career began at Cooper Hayes Advertising and Hayhurst Communications in Calgary where she designed, produced and art-directed print, television and radio projects. When she moved to Parallel Strategies she became lead art director on a variety of projects for the firm’s major account.

Catherine founded Pfang Creative Inc. in January 1994, a successful design studio that specializes in corporate communications.

In 2005 Catherine and her husband, Peter Guyan, completed construction on a small building in Calgary’s trendy Inglewood District. The “Design Lab” houses several small businesses, including Pfang Creative, which are part of an industry collaboration of writers, designers, marketers and artists that form strategic alliances to be able to take on projects of any scale or creative scope.  

Personal Background

Catherine has spent her life and career to date in Calgary, Alberta, although she has traveled extensively. She and her husband, Peter, have three bright and talented children. Between career and family and volunteer activities there is not a lot of time left for artistic pursuits, but she looks forward to the day when there will be time for painting!

Notes from her peers, presented at the 2006 AGM

From David Coates, FGDC:
“I'm so glad Catherine's name has been put forward for fellowship. I wanted to nominate her many years ago, but got nominated myself (damn), so never got the chance. I often wonder whether what I have done to deserve my fellowship is any more significant than the contributions of any of you sitting around the table right now. What I do know is that the work Catherine Garden did for the GDC while I knew her on the National certainly did, not to mention her amazing design work, which I have always admired."

“Her dedication from Chapter level executive to the position of National Treasurer (and back to Chapter) was unsurpassed. I can't imagine having numerous children, running a business and serving on the executive board at the same time. It is testament to her perseverance and tenacity, and dedication to furthering the goals of the GDC. She single-handedly (well, with a little help from Steven Rosenberg) saved the GDC from financial ruin by negotiating with the newly formed ARGDON a reasonable dues structure. As we all know, this relationship has long since deteriorated, but this action at the AGM in Windsor and subsequent management of financial affairs over the years that followed held the GDC together through troubled times.

“All this combined with Catherine's sharp wit made her a great contributor at the National Council table and affirms her contribution to Canadian graphic design. This nomination is long overdue – congratulations Catherine.”

From Steven Rosenberg, FGDC:
“Catherine is highly deserving of this nomination; I always meant to put her name forward myself. What comes to mind first when I think of Catherine is what she contributed to GDC on a National level in terms of good fiscal planning. Prudent, responsible management. She always made sure that money went toward the benefit of members. It was a tricky balancing act to prioritize from what was available, but she always made it work out. At the time she was doing all this she was building her career and raising a very young family. I have always admired her energy and the passion she devoted to GDC. I hope the committee chooses to award her the designation of FGDC.”

From Cynthia Hoffos, CGD:
“Catherine was the first person who created a real system for accounting at the National level. Her predecessors kept records in a pretty haphazard way; she inherited a very messy and incomplete collection of receipts and ledgers. She brought real energy to a difficult task and just got it all organized and working smoothly. And she kept at it for six years! What’s more, she was always really cheerful and great fun. She was balancing a lot of different things in all areas of her life while she did all this – I have no idea where she found the time to do it all! I really admire Catherine. I fully endorse this nomination!”

From Matt Warburton, FGDC:
“It takes dedication and perseverance to deal with adversity and challenge. To do this in a volunteer position takes a special level of dedication, and in this regard Catherine Garden is a special individual. Her role as the backbone of the Alberta South chapter for so many years is one example. But to my mind, it was her role as the National Treasurer during the years following the creation of RGD Ontario that makes her worthy of acknowledgement for her contributions to the GDC and design in Canada. Without Catherine’s firm hand and guidance, the national body would not have survived the financial hardships we faced when the GDC allowed RGD Ontario to retain the national dues they collected and use it to create the managerial structures and examination board required to properly implement the accreditation legislation the GDC Chapters in Ontario had received. Catherine got us through that period intact, and by negotiating a partial transfer of dues in 1998, saved the GDC from certain financial ruin, and laid the groundwork for sound fiscal management that the current national body employs. She continues to support her local community as a mentor and a leader, but it was her tenure on the national council that makes me proud to support this nomination for Fellowship.”