Tiit was born in Estonia in 1942. His family escaped the Russian occupation of Estonia in 1944 and spent the next six years in Germany as DPs (Deported Persons). Immigrating to the United States in 1950, where Tiit received his primary and secondary education. He studied architecture at the University of Michigan, but transferred to Western Michigan University, where he received a B.S. degree with a graphic design major in 1966.
His initial work experience in the United States took him to Southern California (Los Angeles), where he worked in graphic design and as a tool designer on the DC10 at Douglas Aircraft. Moving to Minneapolis in 1968, he worked for a multi-disciplined design firm, Westberg Klaus Associates as a graphic designer. The recession at the end of the 60s necessitated another move… to Canada.
Upon emigrating to Canada in 1971, he joined Stuart Ash in the newly formed Toronto office of Gottschalk+Ash International, becoming a partner in 1978. The firm (G+A) has always maintained high standards of design excellence and is respected internationally. Working with the many great individuals at G+A over those 15 years, was very rewarding. Since 1985 he has managed his own design consultancy with objectives to maintain the same high standards of professionalism and design excellence. The firm’s work ranges from stamps to signage. Stamp design for Canada Post, world-wide facilities signage for Celestica, corporate identities and collateral materials for small and large corporations, and corporate communications, branding and packaging for various companies including brand identity and collateral designs for Strewn Winery in the Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The work of the firm has been recognized internationally for creative excellence through numerous awards, publications and exhibits.
Giving back to the profession has always been a priority for Tiit. He has been an active professional member of the (GDC), Ontario Chapter and the National Council since the mid 1970s, also the Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario (RGD/ON) since it’s registration. He has held numerous GDC positions in Ontario including; Director, Treasurer, President, and Acting President, and has Chaired numerous Committees. At the National level, he has held positions on the National Council for over twelve years as a Council Rep. and Vice-President. And has juried numerous regional GDC Award Shows/Exhibitions.
During these tenures, he has been responsible for many new initiatives, events and activities at both the Chapter and National levels including: coordination of design and implementation of the GDC 25th anniversary catalogue Graphic Design in Canada; the design and implementation of the GDC Information Kit/Sheets and Membership Certificates; the coordination of the Chapter’s newsletter, Scan; rewriting of the GDC Code of Ethics to mirror and reflect the AIGA code and maintain a consistent North American example for the profession; initiation of Chapter and National membership benefits and discounts including, insurance, magazine subscriptions to Applied Arts, Studio and other complimentary magazines. He also initiated articles in Applied Arts magazine on ethics, Working on Spec and A Salute to the GDC Fellows series. Initiated, designed, produced and distributed the early GDC National Membership Directories. Design and production assistance of the GDC Journal (issue# 2 & 3) with Mary Ann Maruska. During the mid 80s, the full-time organization and coordination of the GDC National Show & Exhibition, The Best of the 80s, including the show catalogue and its traveling.
Working with tax consultants from the mid to late 80s, Tiit initiated changes to the Federal Excise Tax (FST) guidelines with Revenue Canada to clarify, revise and establish new and uniform taxation guidelines for the graphic design industry in Canada. The 4-year effort resulted in the approval and publishing of the FST Computation–Official Guide, which was short-lived with the introduction of the GST in 1991.
In 1996, with coordination by Mary Ann Maruska, Tiit and Paul Haslip co-designed and produced the GDC 40th anniversary book gdc @ forty. He also designed the stationery system and membership cards for the RGD in Ontario. Tiit has been an RGD essay examination team member for several years.
Tiit was awarded the Honour of GDC Fellowship in 1988. And in 1996, he received the Icograda Excellence Award, in recognition of consistent, outstanding achievement in practice, education or promotion of graphic design.
In 1998 he was inducted into Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), which is comprised of just over 300 individuals from 27 countries (eight from Canada), recognizing individuals who have achieved high professional repute in the field of graphic design.
Design is not only a profession, but a way of life. A strong passion for design and having the privilege and opportunity of working with many wonderfull individuals throughout Canada and internationally, has been enormously rewarding in spirit and created lasting personal friendships.—TT