David F Coates

CGD, FGDC, Dip. Design, Partner, Ion Brand Design

Eons Ago

I was born in Toronto, Canada in 1960, my family moved to Vancouver in 1970, settling in West Vancouver. After high school and a seven year career as a carpenter, I went back to school to study graphic design at Emily Carr College of Art & Design in 1984. It was at Emily Carr where I met Rod Roodenburg, my partner in Ion Brand Design. In our fourth year of studies, we began working together on non-profit projects and cultural posters. We found that between us we had great synergy, and we founded Ion immediately after graduation in 1988.

My Firm

Ion Brand Design is a multi-disciplinary communications firm, serving a wide range of clients including educational institutions, government, technology, tourism, film, entertainment and hospitality. The firm has earned hundreds design awards in all categories from print to interactive media including numerous international citations. Articles and features on the company have appeared in Communication Arts, Print, How Magazine, Applied Arts, Step-by-Step, Studio, Shanghai Design, Business in Vancouver, Design Edge and other international print and online publications. One of the firm’s projects is included in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada. I have done many lecturers to business people, students and professional designers throughout Canada.

The Good Stuff

In 1994, Rod and I were named among the “Top 40 Under 40” business people in Vancouver by Business in Vancouver. In 1996, I was named to the Applied Arts Magazine editorial board, and served in that capacity until 2000. I also judged the National Post Annual Report Awards three years running. In 2000 Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design presented me with an Emily Award – its highest honour – for lifetime career achievement. In 2001 I was named to the sessional faculty of Emily Carr.


Believing in giving back to community, I have been involved in the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) since 1991. I served as president of the BC Chapter for two terms from 1993-1996. At the end of the second term as president, the Chapter administration had been put back in order, and it was well in the black. During this term, I was instrumental in lobbying the Worker’s Compensation Board to lower it’s rate for graphic designers – collectively saving British Columbia graphic designers hundreds of thousands of dollars. I wrote and received a grant for the first GDC web site in 1995, and implemented the GDC listserv in 1997. The BC web site grew to be the National site in 1997, and was redeveloped in 2000 by Ion and their content management software “Smallbox” to be a true intranet – effectively changing the way the GDC does business forever. I was a member of the GDC National Council for eleven years. Over my tenure on the National I participated in the formation of a National Secretariat. I became National President in 1998-2000, and after my tenure the GDC awarded me fellowship in the Society for my contribution to Canadian design – it’s highest honour. I continue to support the GDC through voluneering and donations to the GDC Foundation.