About the Competitions

Type Directors Club concluded accepting entries to this year’s competitions on January 10, 2018.

Each year, we encourage a broad range of designers to enter our competition, have their work considered by an international panel of type experts, and hopefully have that work chosen for inclusion in a prestigious collection of published and exhibited works ranked “the best in the world.”

For more than 70 years, the Type Directors Club has united and celebrated typographic leaders from around the world. The primary way that we celebrate quality is through our annual competitions in which we highlight the best of the best typographic work in communication and typeface design from studios and individuals in the United States and internationally.

Competition Leadership and Judges

Type Directors Club has hosted the communications design competition for 64 years and the typeface design competition for 21 years. The TDC appoints new chairs to oversee each of these competitions each year.

Communications Design competition:
This 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.

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.

Read about each of this year’s judges here.

In past years, the competitions have been managed by:

2017: Angela Voulangas and Joe Newton (communications) and Dan Rhatigan (typeface)
2016: Abby Goldstein and Karl Heine (communications) and Cara Di Edwardo (typeface)

You can read about the last year’s TDC63 judges and which work they found particularly interesting here.

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: