President’s Letter to the National Gallery of Canada Regarding Their New Brand

National Gallery

It recently came to light that the National Gallery of Canada selected a U.S. design firm to rebrand the Gallery. Below is GDC President, Mark Rutledge’s, open letter to the Gallery Director and CEO.

From President, Mark Rutledge CDP:

“Dear Dr. Suda,

I was dismayed when I learned that Area/17, a U.S. design firm, had been commissioned to develop a new brand identity for the National Gallery of Canada.

Please note that my distress is not about the outcome, but rather, the process.

As National President of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, a professional association that has existed in this country for 65 years and is the world authority in design certification and professionalism, I was beyond disappointed that the Gallery did not seek assistance in securing a Canadian firm for this important and prestigious project.

There are in abundance of 50,000 communication designers in Canada. There is no shortage of talent in the country. What shall I tell these tens of thousands of designers and the thousands that graduate with B. Des. degrees annually? That the National Gallery of Canada does not believe that a Canadian designer or firm is qualified to rebrand their Gallery?

Many of these designers were forced to take advantage of government run assistance programs due to COVID. What shall I tell them? That the National Gallery of Canada prefers to support taxpayers from a different country?

As an Indigenous design leader (Little Grand Rapids First Nation) what shall I tell the Indigenous-led design firms in Canada? That the National Gallery of Canada did not even attempt to ascertain a listing of these firms to ensure the project (proclaimed to be “inspired by Indigenous ways of knowing and being”) fully represented, in every regard, the mission?

What do I tell taxpayers whose taxes help fund the National Gallery of Canada? That their contribution helped a U.S. design firm prosper in 2021?

Dr. Suda, I would appreciate a response that I can relay to the 50,000 graphic and communication designers in Canada.

Mark Rutledge

National President – Society of Graphic Designers of Canada
Status Indian – Treaty 5 – Little Grand Rapids First Nation (Ojibway)”