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Editor’s Column

We’re continuing to refocus our editorial content, which began with our previous issue. The addition of Best-in-Show awards for our competitions will allow more in-depth insights from award-winning creators and more commentary from our judges as to why they chose their favorite projects. We’re also expanding the annual number of our popular Fresh profiles from 18 to 26 to celebrate more emerging talent.
Go to Jurors Biographies

To make room, we’re discontinuing some of our regular features, including Wendy Richmond’s Design Culture column. I want to publicly thank Wendy for her substantial contributions over the years. We will continue to feature more than 100 Design Culture columns at commarts.com/columns/design-culture, and subscribers will continue to have online access to all her columns dating back to 1984.

During a June 2021 AIGA roundtable discussion on the lineage of “Where Are All the Black Designers,” Dr. Cheryl D. Miller called our April 1970 issue a milestone in Black design history for its report on what is believed to be the first-ever exhibition of work by Black visual communicators. This prompted a conversation with Dr. Miller on how we could reprint an enhanced version of the article for today’s audience. Miller agreed to write an introduction explaining the exhibition’s origin and its historical significance. She also connected us to Regina Lee Roberts of the Stanford Libraries Special Collections and University Archives, who was able to locate and obtain permission to publish several photos of the event’s organizers. This expanded reprint begins on page 32.

This year’s Typography Competition saw a 6 percent increase in entries. While we were disappointed in the decline in the number of winners in the Identity and Poster categories, we were pleased to see a very strong showing in Packaging, Motion and Student Work.

“It was nice to see type used in so many different ways,” says juror Tim McGrath.

“I was very impressed by the breadth of work from all around the world, even though we had a challenging year behind us,” juror Liza Enebeis says.

“Overall, I noticed an impressively wide range of styles and approaches,” says juror Nina Stössinger. “The typography is often very well made and successfully integrated into the overall design—even if that means making letters out of musical instruments or fluffy dogs. It is wonderful to see good type supporting good design and vice versa.”

“In some instances, I felt my personal taste had to be pushed aside to make way for objective judging,” juror Kia Tasbihgou says. “Therein lies the beauty of typography: no matter what you like on an aesthetic level, good typographic work—from the perspective of craft—is undeniable.”

Several jurors described what surprised them most while judging.

“Although there were not a lot of entries for motion, one of the best projects was a motion piece,” says Enebeis. “I hope this will encourage more designers to use motion as a way of expression for their work.”

“I was very pleasantly surprised by the sheer quality of the student work,” Tasbihgou says. “My work was nowhere near this level even some time after I’d graduated.”

“I am surprised that there is more work from the Chinese region in recent years,” says juror Ken-Tsai Lee. “The problem is that if the type design part of Chinese characters is not reviewed by designers who understand Chinese character design, they may not know how to judge the quality.”

“I hope that we as a jury have been able to do these works justice,” Stössinger says. “It’s tricky to judge designs driven by typography if one can’t read it.”

I asked the jurors what they found most disappointing in the entries.

“Logotypes and posters are slowly disappearing from the craft,” juror Petra Dočekalová says. “We have to be ready for typefaces in motion or on various materials rather than static form. We have to rethink type categories and the criteria for judging them too.”

“One thing that always saddens me is to see projects that are exciting conceptually and design-wise overall but fall back to very safe, uninspired typeface choices,” says Stössinger. “There’s still too much Helvetica, Arial, Gotham and such where fresher, newer faces might lend a more current and more specific voice.”

“As a designer, I’m so tired of looking at mockups,” Tasbihgou says. “To see a piece loved so thoroughly by its creators or their clients that they pushed it out into the wild and photographed it in situ is a real joy.”

I also asked the jurors to describe the technological developments that may change the way we use typography in the future.

“We are already in the midst of a lot of developments,” says Enebeis. “Variable typography is changing our approach to how we design. The idea of variable can be interpreted in multiple ways. For example, using virtual reality means we have to [rethink] at how we interact [with] and use typography and, in turn, how we design it.”

“I’m very curious about new media, applications like virtual and augmented reality, and the unique demands that such spatial digital design will pose for typography,” Stössinger says.

Finally, I asked what challenges future type designers will face.

“A great task for type designers going forward is to work to decenter type design from its historical ‘center’ in Latin script and create a greater stylistic abundance of work in other scripts as well,” says Stössinger.

“I think they have only great views full of endless possibilities and no technical limits from the creative perspective,” Dočekalová says. “So the challenge for all future type designers will be what else can a typographer do besides designing new typefaces: how to move them to another level of quality, creativity and possibility.”

“It can be compelling to see work in the shape of tiny type specimens on toy cars, blind debossed in silicone labels or screen printed on shrink-wrapped plastic,” says Tasbihgou. “We need to be more responsible with how we realize our projects and step away from using such materials if we want to be able to work with a clearer conscience moving forward.”

A minimum of four out of six votes was required for inclusion in this year’s Typography Annual. Jurors were not permitted to vote on projects in which they were directly involved. I would like to extend our appreciation to our jurors for their conscientious efforts in selecting our twelfth Typography Annual. —Patrick Coyne ca

Jurors Biographies
Petra Dočekalová
letterer and typeface designer
Briefcase Type Foundry

Petra Dočekalová is a letterer, type designer and sign painter. Since 2013, she has been a member of the Prague-based Briefcase Type Foundry. She has coauthored two books: Typo9010, which won several global awards, and Jaroslav Benda 1882–1970, which won the Most Beautiful Czech Books of the Year award from the Museum of Czech Literature in 2019. Dočekalová completed her PhD studies on new script forms at the Type Design and Typography Studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague in 2020 and received the TDC Award of Excellence for her diploma project researching Czechoslovak calligraphy and new hand-lettering forms.

Liza Enebeis 
creative director
Studio Dumbar (part of Dept)

Liza Enebeis is the creative director at Studio Dumbar (part of Dept), an award-winning international agency headquartered in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and specializing in visual branding and motion. She is an MA Design graduate from the Royal College of Art in London and previously worked for Pentagram London. Enebeis also cofounded and hosts Typeradio.org, the first podcast to focus on type and design with more than 550 episodes giving a voice to both established and upcoming designers and coinitiated DEMO, a festival celebrating motion design. In 2018, she was elected to membership into the design association Alliance Graphique Internationale. 

Ken-Tsai Lee
designer/educator
ken-tsai lee design lab/Taiwan TECH

Ken-Tsai Lee is a designer, teacher and curator. He has operated his own studio ken-tsai lee design lab in Taipei, Taiwan, since 1996 and is an associate professor at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, visual director of the Taiwan Designers’ Week, and the regional representative for the New York Art Directors Club and the New York Type Directors Club. His work has been recognized by Communication Arts, D&AD, Design for Asia Awards, Graphis, Hong Kong Designers Association, The One Show, Red Dot Design Award, Taiwan National Design Award, the Tokyo Type Directors Club and the New York Type Directors Club.

Tim McGrath
design director/partner
3 Advertising

Tim McGrath is design director and cofounder of 3 Advertising in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over the past 25 years, he has worked on national, regional and local brands in virtually every category. His work has been recognized by the National Addys, Communication Arts, HOW, The One Show, Print, Step and Type Directors Club. As a passion project, he also runs overland outfitter company Sackwear. When he’s not designing work for a client, he’s often designing some of Sackwear’s memorable apparel. When he’s not doing either of those, you might find him on the back roads of Colorado or Iceland, or as far from a computer as a human can get.

Nina Stössinger
senior typeface designer
Frere-Jones Type

Nina Stössinger is a senior typeface designer at Frere-Jones Type in Brooklyn, New York, and a critic for typeface design at Yale School of Art. Her published typefaces include Conductor (with Tobias Frere-Jones), Empirica, FF Ernestine and Nordvest. In her role at Frere-Jones Type, she has also codesigned custom type for Donors Choose, Essex Market, Microsoft and the National Gallery of Art. Stössinger holds degrees from Burg Giebichen-stein University of Art Halle/Germany and the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. She previously served on the board of directors of the Type Directors Club and chaired the 22nd TDC Typeface Design Competition.  

Kia Tasbihgou
principal
Design Practice of Kia Tasbihgou

Kia Tasbihgou is principal of the London, United Kingdom–based design firm Design Practice of Kia Tasbihgou. Born, raised and educated in London, Tasbihgou specializes in graphic design, web design, identity design, print and digital. His type foundry Op. Cit. ibid. concerns itself with making future-facing, interesting typefaces steeped in deep historical research but without compromising usability. He has worked for major brands and organizations ranging from Greenpeace, the Herb Lubalin Study Center, Nike, Frank Ocean, Salomon, Vanity Fair and Varoom magazine, as well as working alongside Google Fonts and Sharp Type on various projects.

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