“I was delighted to see so much handlettering,” said juror Allan Haley. “I was treated to wonderfully drawn formal scripts, exuberant calligraphic riffs, carefully constructed roman letterforms and aggressive lettering that demanded my full attention.”
“It is clear that the increased mainstream interest in typography is pushing designers, illustrators and artists to do interesting things with letters and words,” added juror Stephen Coles.
“I am fairly pleased with the work that we selected and I feel that it demonstrates a portion of the range of interesting typography in the world today,” said juror Shelley Gruendler. “But there is much more interesting typography out there and I encourage the creators to submit next year and in many years to come.”
“I was disappointed with the lack of entries exhibiting pure text typography,” Coles said. “There were hundreds of ads and logos, but very few books, for example. Perhaps entrants feared that this more subtle kind of work would be overlooked for the showy stuff, but text type is just as difficult to pull off and more important to design than display type.”
While the jury expressed enthusiasm for the selected entries, they also conveyed criticism for what was not. “My biggest disappointment was the generally poor quality of student submissions,” Haley said. “I know that some educators are doing an excellent job of helping emerging graphic designers develop the skills and sensitivities to create exceptional typography, but it is obvious that too many students are not getting the education they—or the design community—deserve.”
“The fact that there is now a Typography edition on the roster of Communication Arts Annuals demonstrates the enormous growth in awareness of the industry, much to the joy of typographers and typophiles everywhere!” —Shelley Gruendler
“To see such a large number of designers following trends that are years-old, some even decades-old, was also disappointing,” Gruendler said. “I would hope that more designers could be trend-setters, and not trend-followers. It takes more effort and more time, but the end result is always stronger and more memorable. I understand that time is a limiting factor, as are bosses, clients and budgets. But some of the best ideas originate from a minimum of resources.”
Since this was our first competition for typography, we asked our jurors how we might improve the judging process. “While the judges can see broad-brush typographic handling on screen, much of what separates great typography from just letters on paper is in the nuances,” Haley said. “Typography intended to be viewed as hardcopy at arm’s length should be judged that way.”
“The design of the specimen makes or breaks the typeface,” Coles said. “One can make a mediocre typeface look good, or a very usable typeface look useless, all in the way it’s presented. For future competitions I recommend standardized entry showings (one for text faces and one for display) so the type designs can be examined on their own merits.”
When asked about the future of typographic design, Coles suggested the challenge for type designers today is the same as it’s always been—make something original and useful. “Does it fill a need in a way none of the other thousands of faces do today?”
“A font, no matter how ‘smart’ it is, still only performs as well as the person using it.” —Allan Haley
“Type designers can now create the most versatile, refined and powerful typefaces that have ever been used by graphic communicators,” Haley said. “But the fonts can also be the most difficult and complicated to produce since Gutenberg got the idea to print a Bible.”
As in our other competitions, we employed a two-step jurying system, screening and finals. For screening, print entries were spread out on six rows of tables by category and each juror reviewed the entries independently. Any juror could put an entry into the next round by handing it to a member of our staff. Digital entries and motion graphics were screened by checking an “in” or “out” box on scoring sheets.
During finals, print entries were again spread out on tables by category. Two paper cups, one white and one red, with slots cut in the bottom, were placed upside down to the right of each entry, white cups for “in” votes, red cups for “out.” Each juror voted by placing a different colored ceramic tile into the appropriate cup. A check of the tile colors ensured that every judge voted on every single piece.
After all the jurors were finished voting on the print setup, they moved to another hall for a final session of projected images or motion graphics. Again voting was done by each juror checking the “in” or “out” column on the scoring sheets.
Judges were not permitted to vote on projects in which they were directly involved. When judges’ pieces were in the finals, I voted in their stead.
I would like to extend our grateful appreciation to our jurors for their conscientious efforts in selecting our first annual typographic exhibition. —Patrick Coyne ca