Graphic Design Citizen

Learn how to use graphic design to support a healthy world, through presentations and workshops by Emrys Damon Miller, Director of Rocketday Arts.

We face many challenges today. Our ecosystems are damaged by unsustainable resource extraction, pollution, and short-sighted development. Our physical health deteriorates as we sit for hours before glowing screens, craving sugary, fatty, processed foods. Our mental health struggles as we scroll through an endless feed of distractions and sensationalism. We still navigate racism, sexism, homophobia, and economic class issues. And when faced with war on other continents, or the impending doom of climate change, there’s a sense of powerlessness — and that any actions we individuals can take are too small, and therefore futile.

Most design studios make their primary money through work that supports the global consumer economy — an economy that encourages many of the problems above, rather than solving them. Graphic design is part of the commercial marketing industry. Talented designers create marketing campaigns promoting the idea that a newer car, celebrity-endorsed lipstick, granite kitchen counters, a cell phone upgrade, or luxurious vacations will deliver what we want and need in life. But this has created an unhealthy culture of irresponsible excess.

Many individual designers and companies 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 Damon Miller challenges this flawed model.

Emrys runs the Rocketday Arts studio, which aims to work exclusively on projects that help make the world a healthier place, while being financially profitable.

In this presentation or workshop, Emrys shares the many successes and challenges of Rocketday over its first 20 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 see how they too can align their company’s focus and culture to their own vision of a healthier world.

Available as a 1 hour classroom visit;
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 and director of Rocketday Arts, a small, boutique studio located in Victoria, Canada. Since opening in 1999, Rocketday focuses exclusively on projects which aim to build a healthier planet, directly addressing several local and 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 (Pacific Salmon Foundation, BC Parks); those who nurture arts and culture (Innovations en concert Montréal, Victoria Film Festival); those who help build the internet (Google, Cisco Systems); those who educate (Skeptic magazine, State University of New York); those who reduce war (Canadian Peace Initiative, Inter-Cultural Association); and those who explore our spiritual health (Ascent magazine, Humanist Perspectives magazine).

Emrys has received awards for his work in photography, illustration, website development, and most notably in graphic design. He served as Vancouver Island Chapter President of the Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC), as well as on the GDC’s National Environmental Sustainability Committee. He’s engaged in the international design community, participating in ico-D events in Nagoya, Havana, Seattle, Vancouver, and Montréal, organizing a 99u educational event (training in Manhattan), participating in Mexico’s poster biennial, and working with collaborators and clients across Canada and the USA.

He lives and works by the ocean with his wife, twin teenagers, and three urban chickens.


“Before a diverse group of 160 students, Emrys 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,
graphic design 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,
Vancouver Island Chapter President,
Graphic Designers of Canada

“Emrys is an inspiring presenter on a wide variety of design topics, backed up by his many years of experience in the often turbulent field of graphic design. He quickly establishes rapport with his audience before moving on to provide valuable expert opinion on the subject at hand.”

— Alastair Chesson,
Instructor of Graphic Design,
Pacific Design Academy

“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,
Director, Nanaimo Design Nerds;
and Instructor, NSCAD University,
and Capilano University, Vancouver Island University

“Emrys’ frank discussion of the successes and failures found throughout the creative field was delivered with aplomb, honesty and humour. The student cohort was treated to a rarely approached but critical discussion of the ethics of image making, how to maintain integrity in the business of creativity, and the importance of work-life balance. I’m looking forward to inviting Emrys into my classrooms in the future!”

— Dushan Milic,
Adjunct Professor of Illustration,
Ryerson University, OCAD University, and Emily Carr

selected events

2017 : ico-D World Design Summit
@ Montreal, Quebec;
a presentation on cosmology, harmony and the graphic design citizen

2014 through 2018 : multiple GDC events
@ multiple venues, Victoria, BC;
producing, curating and emceeing a diverse series of large, sold-out events for the Graphic Designers of Canada (including a visiting lecture on ethical graphic design practice, a poster workshop on the theme of empowering young girls, a film screening and live demonstration on the craft of sign painting, an intimate Master Class with Robert Bringhurst on bookmaking and typesetting Indigenous languages, and a multiple artist showcase on the art of the gig poster)

2014 : Thinklandia “By Design”
@ Thinklandia/Rifflandia festival, Victoria, BC;
a presentation and multi-discipline panel discussion on the culture of local and global design

2014 : VIU Graduation Keynote
@ Vancouver Island Conference Centre, Nanaimo, BC;
a presentation on the 15-year personal journey of Emrys and his company Rocketday Arts, for the graduating class of Vancouver Island University’s Art & Design Program

2011 : Healthy by Nature Forum
@ Creekside Centre, Vancouver, BC;
a presentation of the Among Nature web platform, and hosting a discussion about using graphic design and technology to connect citizens with their local parks


To enquire about booking Emrys for talks, workshops, or school visits, contact