About the Competitions
Type Directors Club issued its Call for Entries for the Communications Design (TDC65) and Typeface Design Competitions on September 18! Enter here.
To give you the background on all the TDC competitions, keep reading.
In May 2018, the Type Directors Club announced its newest competition, Ascenders 2018, to honor and showcase the work of type-oriented designers who are 35 years of age and under.
Our Board of Directors reviewed 230 submissions from 39 countries, and selected nineteen designers from thirteen countries. The Ascenders 2018 were announced on July 18 in New York City, and were honored at an exhibition of their work on August 18. See photos of the exhibition opening here.
Compilation of images from portfolios submitted by the 2018 Ascenders.
Communications Design and Typeface Design Competitions
The two oldest and best-known competitions hosted by Type Directors Club are the Communications Design competition, held annually for 65 years, and the Typeface Design competition, now in its 22nd year.
In short, here’s what happens: A jury convenes in January to select over 250 works that represent the “world’s best type and typography”. The complete set of works debuts in an exhibition at The Cooper Union in New York City each July and travels to over thirty cities and universities around the world for the following two years.
The competition website, has all the details on fees, entries, and categories. This page is to explain how the annual competitions work and tell you about the benefits of entering, having your work reviewed, and hopefully being accepted.
Type Directors Club appoints new chairs to oversee each of these competitions each year.
Communications Design competition: For this coming year, the chair is Bobby C. Martin Jr. The Communications Design judges are Karin Fong, Leo Jung, Eddie Opara, Paulina Reyes, Ian Spalter, Annik Troxler, and Zipeng Zhu. Read about them here.
Typeface Design competition: Nina Stössinger will chair this year’s typeface competition. The Typeface Design judges are Nicole Dotin, Tobias Frere-Jones, Erin McLaughlin, and Kristyan Sarkis. Read about them here.
In previous years, here are the designers who managed and judged the competitions:
• 2018: Chris Sergio and Catherine Casalino (communications) and Elizabeth Carey Smith (typeface). Read about last year’s judges here.
• 2017: Angela Voulangas and Joe Newton (communications) and Dan Rhatigan (typeface). Read about the work the 2017 judges singled out here.
During the TDC64 judging last January, we asked several of the judges — Gemma O’Brien, Jon Key, Bryony Gomez-Palacio, and Natasha Jen — to give advice to young designers and explain why they should enter these TDC competitions. Click here to hear what they said in our video, Judges’ Tips:
Gemma O’Brian, one of the four TDC64 judges sharing advice in this Judges’ Tips video.
This Year’s Design: Bond Creative
Each summer, the competition chairs select a prestigious design firm to develop the look and brand of the competition. For the upcoming competition, the Type Directors Club is working with Bond Creative.
In past years, competition designers have included Brooklyn’s Triboro, 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.
Instagram tiles designed by Bond Creative for the TDC65 launch.
How the Competition Works: Professionals and Students
In 2018, the competition launched on September 18. An Early Bird discount on entries was available through October 19, with regular entries accepted until December 7. After that, we will accept late entries (at higher fees) until January 11, 2019.
Detailed rules and fees for entry are published in September on the competition’s website. While the competition is running, Type Directors Club offers a discounted rate for early entries and occasional promotional discounts.
TDC members receive a discount on their entry fee as a benefit of membership, and everyone is encouraged to join.
To encourage the typographic leaders of tomorrow, students are invited to submit unpublished student work created for a class during 2018. For the first time this year, we offer student categories in both the Communication Design and the Typeface Design competitions. The best student designs are awarded cash prizes (and we also offer two special rates for Student TDC membership). Read about our 2018 student communications design award winners here.
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.
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 TDC63 show has been seen by type fans in over 35 cities in fourteen countries, including a five-city tour in China. Photos of some of these installations are posted here. The TDC63 and TDC64 tours continue, with TDC63 featured in Santander, Spain through October 31, and TDC64 featured on the Oakville campus of Sheridan College near Toronto through December 14.
All winners of the annual competitions are invited to the New York debut of the exhibition, which will be held at The Cooper Union in July 2019.
You can view the 2017 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.
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: