Do You Know the RGD Rules?

Over the last few weeks our class has studied the RGD rules. To me all of the rules seem very important to follow, but one rule that stood out to me was rule #6. Rule #6 states, “I will ensure I receive compensation for graphic design services that I provide except for pro bono work”.

From webinar, Understanding The Basics presented by Hilary Ashworth, Julian Brown RGD, and Stussy Tschudin RGD.

As a student RGD this rule means to me that I will not provide graphic design services without receiving a fair compensation in return, unless it’s for a pro bono project. It’s important to me, as a graphic design student that our work is appreciated and valued. This means I will limit the amount of my time and work that I donate and that I will not donate my services to charities, or organizations that have the ability to pay for services. To also provide all clients with an invoice, including pro bono work but with a 100% discount that still shows the value of my donation. When charging for design services I will also always use a fair compensation rate that is suitable for my qualifications.

The following example shows how easy it is to not receive a fair compensation for your work. Nathan is an RGD grad student who loves to skateboard, and follows all of the top skate companies on social media. His favourite skate company has recently asked followers to submit concepts for a board design. The winning submission will receive $250 and 1 of the final skateboards. Designing for a skate company would be one of his dream jobs, if Nathan submits a concept would he be violating the RGD rules?

Yes. The company is using their reputation to take advantage of designers instead of hiring one. This devalues the work of graphic designers. This is a form of spec work – also known as crowdsourcing, which violates the RGD rules because the designer would not be compensated fairly for their work. Nathan shouldn’t participate and should inform RGD so the Ethics Committee can make the company aware of the issue and recommend how to properly find assistants with designing new materials.

I will incorporate this rule into my design practices by not participating in spec work or encouraging anyone else to. I also wont participate in any skills tests unless it’s part of a job application. Terms must be agreed upon before taking the test, and no work will be used in any commercial way. Before engaging in design work I will use a contract and proposal to clarify all project details between the client and I, to ensure it follows the RGD rules. This way work can be determined in advanced if it’s pro bono, freelance, or spec.

As I begin my graphic design career I will make sure I incorporate all of the RGD rules into my design practices. Do you know the RGD rules? If not I highly recommended checking them out on the RGD website at, Not only is great advice for graphic designers to follow during their career, but it also helpful.


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