Impress Your Design Crush — Meet the Judges of the TDC Competitions

If you’re like us, one of the first things you do when you receive a competition’s Call for Entries is check to see who the judges are. After all, the chance to get your work in front of your design heroes and cutting edge contemporaries is one of the great thrills of entering a design contest in the first place.

There is plenty to crush on in the work of this year’s eleven TDC judges. You may have admired some of them for years from afar, or even studied their work in school. Others, will hopefully be new discoveries for you. But taken together, they are a peerless jury–with a breathtaking variety of talent and experience.

We are absolutely thrilled to introduce our judges for this year’s two TDC competitions, TDC64 and the 21st Annual TDC Typeface Design Competition.

Enter now, and don’t miss your opportunity to Impress Your Design Crush. The late competition deadline is January 10, with all the details here.


Nicholas Blechman

Nicholas Blechman is a New York-based art director and illustrator. Since 2015, he has been the Creative Director of The New Yorker. Blechman is the former Art Director of The New York Times Book Review and The New York Times Op-Ed page.

Since 1990 he published, edited, and designed the political underground magazine NOZONE, featured in the Smithsonian Institution’s Design Triennial. His illustrations have appeared in GQ, Travel + Leisure, and Wired. In 2012, Blechman won the Rome Prize in Design at The American Academy In Rome, where he created a Food Chains, an illustrated blog for The New York Times.

He co-authors “One Hundred Percent,” a series of limited-edition illustrated books, with Christoph Niemann. The latest in this series, “Conversations”, was published in 2017. His work was included in an exhibit at The Met museum titled “Talking Pictures”.

See more of Nicholas’s work and follow him online: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Mike Essl

Mike Essl is a graphic designer, educator, and Mr. T memorabilia collector. With over twenty years in the field, Essl’s bold approach has earned him equal acclaim for his elevation of comic books with DC Comics and Rizzoli as for websites with Wikipedia and San Francisco Opera. At The Chopping Block (co-founded 1996) and on his own, Essl-led projects have been featured by the AIGA, ComicCon, the Cooper Hewitt, and MoMA.

Essl’s illustrations have been included in The New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Yale University Art Gallery. His outspoken commentary has been featured on Design Matters with Debbie Millman, The Howard Stern Show, and VH1’s Totally Obsessed. Essl is presently the Acting Dean of the Cooper Union School of Art, where he has been an Associate Professor of graphic design since 2002.

Follow Mike online: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Bryony Gomez-Palacio

Born and raised in Mexico City, Bryony Gomez-Palacio is a graphic designer and writer now living in Bloomington, Indiana. She co-founded UnderConsideration, a graphic design firm and publishing enterprise where she manages the online publications Brand New, FPO, Quipsologies and The Art of the Menu. Bryony has co-authored five books with her husband and partner, Armin Vit. Their most popular titles are Graphic Design, Referenced and the self-published Flaunt. Most recently, they conceived and presented the Brand New Conference, the Brand New Awards, the FPO Awards, and the recently launched lecture series by The Austin Initiative for Graphic Awesomeneses. Bryony enjoys conducting workshops and lecturing when not tending to her two young daughters and their crazy schedules.

Follow Bryony online: Twitter
UnderConsideration: Website | Instagram | Twitter
Brand New Conference: Instagram | Twitter

Natasha Jen

Natasha Jen is a graphic designer and partner at Pentagram New York. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, her work is recognized for its innovative use of graphic, digital, and spatial interventions that challenge the critical bounding assumptions surrounding media and culture. In 2015, Natasha was named one of the “World’s Nine Leading Designers” by Wired magazine. She serves on the Board of Directors for Storefront for Art & Architecture, and AIGA New York and has been a guest critic at Yale University School of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, and Maryland Institute College of Art.

Follow Natasha online: Website | Instagram | Twitter

Jon(athan) Key

Jon(athan) Key is an art director, designer, and writer. His collaborations have lead him to work with a diverse set of clients and institutions as designer, educator, and artist including HBO, Nickelodeon, IDEO, Grey Advertising, The Public Theater, MICA, American University in Beirut, Parsons, and the Whitney Museum. His creative pursuits have allowed his work to be featured internationally in galleries, museums and collections in Boston, Toronto, New York City, London, and Ljubjana, Slovenia. He currently serves as a contributing art director to The Tenth magazine, a Black, queer arts, and culture magazine; and just launched Morcos Key, a design studio with his partner Wael Morcos. Jon is a co-founder and the design director of Codify Art, a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist collective whose mission is to create, produce, and showcase work that brings the voices of people of color, highlighting women and queer people of color to the foreground. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, where he received a Bachelors of Fine Art in Graphic Design.

Follow Jon Key online: Instagram | Twitter

Gemma O’Brien

Over the past 10 years, Australian designer and artist Gemma O’Brien has taken her passion for typography and built a flourishing career around drawing letters. Her bold type, expressive calligraphy, and detailed illustration can be seen in advertising campaigns, editorial publications and large-scale murals in galleries and interiors around the world. A number of her projects have received the Award of Typographic Excellence from the New York Type Directors Club. In 2015, she was recognized as an ADC Young Gun and, in 2016, named one of PRINT Magazine’s New Visual Artists: 15 under 30. She has collaborated with numerous global brands and publications, including Apple, Adobe, Westfield, Volcom Stone, Oreo, QANTAS, L’Oréal, Entertainment Weekly, Playboy magazine, and The New York Times. Beyond her commercial work, Gemma O’Brien is a regular speaker at international conferences and also hosts hand-lettering workshops at design schools, agencies, and events.

Follow Gemma online: Website | Instagram | Twitter

Susan Sellers

Susan is a founding partner and Executive Creative Director at 2×4, a design firm that focuses strategy, design and brand development for forward-thinking creative brands and organization globally. Sellers views design as inquiry into the ideas and values implicit in the built environment, an elaborated journalism that unpacks and retells the world in evocative, informative, immersive experiences. Her work spans the urban, cultural and commercial integrating print, screen and architecture.

From 2012 to 2016, Sellers served as Head of Design at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, leading design for the opening of the landmark Marcel Breuer Building, The Met Breuer, as well as exhibitions and the museum’s new brand identity. Sellers is Senior Critic in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut. Sellers received a B.F.A. in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989 and an M.A. in American Studies from Yale University in 1994.

Follow Susan online: Website | Twitter


Sahar Afshar

Sahar Afshar is a type designer and researcher from Iran. Her interest in typography during her years as a student at the University of Tehran led her to the University of Reading, from which she holds an MA by Research in Typography & Graphic Communication. Since graduation, she has been working on the design, consultation and quality assurance of Arabic typefaces, as well as researching the printing of Arabic and Indic scripts. She is currently based in the UK, and is a doctoral candidate at Birmingham City University, where she also works as a research assistant to the Centre for Printing History and Culture.

Read more about Sahar here and follow her online: Instagram | Twitter

Verena Gerlach

In 1998, Verena founded her studio for graphic design, type design and typography in Berlin. Since 2006, she has been working as a freelance book designer for art book publishers like Hatje Cantz and Kerber. She started lecturing in type design, and typography in 2003, and she now gives lectures and workshops all over the globe.

Besides designing corporate fonts for global companies, she also is working on typographic production for international, contemporary artists. In 2013, Verena published her book Karbid—From Let­ter­ing to Type Design.

Verena has worked as freelance type designer for Monotype since 2016. Her released typefaces include FF City Street Types, FF Chambers Sans, FF Karbid Pro, and FF Sizmo.

Read more about Verena and see her work here.

YuJune Park

YuJune is the Associate Director and an Assistant Professor of Communication Design at Parsons School of Design. She co-founded Synoptic Office, where she served as the program director from 2014 to 2017. Her work has been recognized by the AIGA, the I.D. Annual Design Review, the Art Director’s Club Awards, iDN, It’s Nice That, Etapes, the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana, and the Ningbo Museum of Art.

She holds an MFA in Graphic Design from Yale University and a BFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. YuJune has worked for and collaborated with several studios including Base Design, Graphic Thought Facility, and Pentagram for a variety of clients including the Museum of Modern Art, Milk Studios, the Davis Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In addition to teaching, YuJune speaks on design education and typography at conferences that recently include Typographics, the Northside Festival, and AIGA/NY.

Follow YuJune online: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Dyana Weissman

Dyana Weissman is the Senior Custom Designer at Type Network. For over 15 years, she has worked with international studios and brands including Adidas, john st., Loyal Kaspar, Marie Claire magazine, Korn Design, Pentagram, Interbrand, The Financial Times, and TIME magazine. Dyana studied Graphic Design at Rhode Island School of Design, where her interest in typeface design was cultivated. When she has time, or is spurred enough, she writes for and She has presented her work at ATypI, TypeCon, and at universities around the country. When she isn’t doing all of that, she is taking photos, gardening, or hiking somewhere in the world.

Read more about Dyana and see her work here.