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About the Competitions

On May 18, the Type Directors Club announced the Call for Entries for a new competition, Ascenders 2018, to honor type-oriented designers who are 35 years of age and under.

The Ascenders competition concluded on July 9.

The other two competitions hosted by Type Directors Club are the annual Communications Design competition, held annually for 64 years, and the Typeface Design competition, now in its 21st year.

A jury selected the “world’s best type and typography” in January 2018. The complete set of more than 280 award-winning works will debut in an exhibition in New York at Cooper Union on July 18, 2018 and will travel to over thirty cities and universities around the world for the next two years.

Communications Design and Typeface Design Competition Leadership and Judges

Type Directors Club appoints new chairs to oversee each of these competitions each year.

Communications Design competition:
For this past year, the co-chairs were Chris Sergio and Catherine Casalino, who worked with the TDC board to select seven judges from all areas of the design world — Nicholas Blechman, Mike Essl, Bryony Gomez-Paolacio, Nathasha Jen, Jon Key, Gemma O’Brien, and Susan Sellers.

See the list of winners here.

Typeface Design competition: Elizabeth Carey Smith headed this year’s typeface competition, which had a panel of four judges — Sahar Afshar, Verena Gerlach, YuJune Park, and Dyana Weissman.

See the list of winners here.

Read the biographies of each of the 2018 judges here.

In past years, the competitions were managed by the following teams:

2017: Angela Voulangas and Joe Newton (communications) and Dan Rhatigan (typeface). Read about the work the 2017 judges singled out here.
2016: Abby Goldstein and Karl Heine (communications) and Cara Di Edwardo (typeface)

This Year’s Design: Triboro

Each summer, the competition chairs select a prestigious design firm to develop the look and brand of the competition. In past years, competition designers have included Milan’s Leftloft, Bobby C. Martin Jr. and the team at OCD|The Original Champions of Design, Brian Collins, Abbott Miller of Pentagram Design, and Chip Kidd.

In 2017, Brooklyn’s Triboro created the brand and the look for the competition.

Identity for TDC64 by Triboro

How the Competition Works: Professionals and Students

During 2017, the competition launched on October 1, with entries accepted until December 10. The rules and fees for entry were published on the competition’s web pages. While the competition is running, Type Directors Club offers a discounted rate for early entries and occasional promotional discounts.

Late entries were accepted until noon EST on January 10, 2018, with higher entry fees charged during this extended period.

TDC members receive a discount on their entry fee as a benefit of membership, and we welcome all to join.

To encourage the typographic leaders of tomorrow, we encouraged students to submit unpublished student work created for a class during 2017 (and we also offer two special rates for Student TDC membership). Read more about opportunities and awards for student participation in this year’s communications design competition here.

Close-up of Miriam Rieger’s design for a book and poster set about synesthesia, which received the TDC63’s second-place award for student work (Mediadesign Hochschule München)

The competition also provides entry discounts for residents of countries that are often under-represented in the international design community. Find the list the countries within the Fees tab of the competition web pages.

The Judging and Notification Process

In January 2018, all of the judges came to New York City to view the submitted work. We also convened a panel of specialists in non-Latin typefaces to advise the judges in the selection of winning typeface designs. Everyone came together for a weekend to look at, think about, and discuss type and to participate in a rigorous selection process. The general criteria for selection centers on craft, innovation, relevance, and aesthetic.

Judges for the typeface competition review work submitted to TDC2017 at Parsons The New School in New York City in January 2017

The winners are contacted after the judging weekend and are provided with a digital tag to show the world on social media that their work has been selected as one of the “world’s best.” At this point, winners are asked to send additional copies of their work to be packaged in one of eight exhibitions that are sent throughout the world.

The Traveling Exhibition and New York Debut

The TDC62 show reached type fans in over 42 cities in seventeen countries, and the tour is still continuing through 2017.

All winners of this year’s competitions will be invited to the New York debut of the exhibition, which will be held at The Cooper Union in July 2018.

You can view this past year’s awards celebration here and view many of the worldwide exhibitions of that award-winning work here. We honor exceptional student work through TDC’s Student Awards, which are also presented that night, and integrate winning student work alongside the professional work in the exhibition.

The Annual

For a lasting record of achievement, we produce the TDC Annual, The World’s Best Typography, which documents all of the work in the show and lists credits of every designer, art director, agency, client, and other collaborators. Highly respected within the design community, many consider inclusion the highest honor and a very prestigious accomplishment.

In becoming a winner in our competitions, you become a part of our rich history of typographic excellence, as this recent letter from Germany’s Gutenberg-Museum attests: