Enter the world’s premier Typography and Typeface design competition

The Type Directors Club has been promoting excellence in typography for over 65 years. This years deadline for entries is December 14, 2012. A list of international judges have been assembled to judge the best work of 2012.
Categories include experimental, digital, self-promotion, posters, motion, student etc.

https://www.tdc.org/type-competition/#.ULUXmaWhD8s

5star's picture

Awesome!

Just a question... does the TDC generate money from the book or traveling exhibition(s) of the winning submissions?

n.

grahamclif's picture

The Type Directors Club is the leading international organization whose purpose is to support excellence in typography, both in print and on screen. Founded in 1946 by some of the industry’s leading practitioners, the TDC’s earliest membership included Aaron Burns, Will Burtin, Freeman Craw, Louis Dorfsman, Gene Federico, Edward M. Gottschall, Herb Lubalin, Edward Rondthaler, Bradbury Thompson, and Hermann Zapf. With this solid historical background, the TDC today represents the best of today’s type design and type use.

The TDC holds two yearly type competitions: one for the use of type and the letterform in design and the other, typeface design. The winners are reproduced in our Typography Annual, published by HarperCollins Publishers, as well as displayed in seven exhibits that travel worldwide. In addition to celebrating outstanding achievements, the typography competitions and resulting annuals serve as important historical records of typographic trends, and are an invaluable resource for both designers and scholars.

Education has always been an important part of the Type Directors Club’s mission. The TDC began offering lectures in 1947, the second year of the Club’s existence. Called Ten Talks on Type, the lectures were given by James Secrest, Arnold Bank, Gene Ettenberg, Charles Felton, Milton Zudeck, O. Alfred Dickman, Joseph Weiler, Frank Powers, and Hal Zamboni. The series’ success led to it becoming an annual event. In 1958, the Club extended its reach to an international day-long seminar at the Silvermine Artists Guild in New Canaan, Connecticut, which drew 500 attendees.

In 1959, the TDC ran Typography USA at the Biltmore Hotel in Manhattan. Speakers included Saul Bass, Herbert Bayer, Lester Beall, Will Burtin, Lou Dorfsman, Alvin Eisenmann, Gene Federico, William Golden, Allen Hurlburt, Leo Lionni, Herb Lubalin, Paul Rand, Ladislav Sutnar, and Bradbury Thompson.

Among the many speakers and teachers in the intervening years have been Aaron Burns, Klaus Schmidt, Ed Gottschall, Tom Carnase, Bruno Brugnatelli, Milton Glaser, Hermann Zapf, Eileen Hedy Schultz, Ed Benguiat, Olaf Leu, Martin Solomon, Günter Gerhard Lange, and Freeman Craw.

The current lecture and class schedule offered by the TDC continues apace. The Education Committee has been developing course offerings at all levels of proficiency that reflect today’s needs and interests, and the Event Committee continues scheduling monthly Type Salons in our Manhattan space.

The TDC is the home for typography—a physical meeting place and a strong professional affiliation. We welcome all in advertising, communications, education, marketing, and publishing who have a keen interest in type and the written word: graphic designers, art directors, editors, multimedia professionals, students, and entrepreneurs.

The TDC is a not for profit organization.

5star's picture

Thanks for the reply, I'll take that as a yes.

n.

hrant's picture

Those are some good judges!

hhp

Chris Dean's picture

Am I correct in reading that I pay to enter, and if I win, I pay again?

5star's picture

That's my point Chris. I was a Governor of a national not-for-profit organization so I know a lot about the sort of parameters within which the TDC can operate.

Hence my question...

Just a question... does the TDC generate money from the book or traveling exhibition(s) of the winning submissions?

Notice I didn't get a direct answer to my question.

And did I miss the TDC's early bird post?

n.

hrant's picture

Indeed punishing the winners is the first thing I would change. I've been saying that since the late 90s.

hhp

5star's picture

Since the late 90s? Hm.

If this org is anything that I'm familiar with I would say that the TDC is perpetual financial woes ...in fact they might be in a downward spiral. These sort of orgs have two main problems. Firstly it looks inward ...instead of looking outward. Secondly it has an arrogance that comes from a time when it was the only show in town. And, it may very well be top heavy.

Just sayin'

n.

hrant's picture

It's been around for a while, and it has some great members. Financial troubles come and go - that doesn't really determine the core spirit of what is essentially a cultural organization.

Much of my own exposure to the TDC has been via James Montalbano, which is of course pretty limiting. Now that James has gone postal I'm interested to see how perceptions -if only my own- will change. And hopefully they'll figure out ways to improve their competitions (like give the judges much more time).

hhp

hrant's picture

BTW Graham, could you explain the "experimental" category? Is that something new?

hhp

grahamclif's picture

Sure thing, experimental and unpublished categories were introduced in last years competition. We are intrigued to see what folks are coming up with when not toiling on client paying work.

grahamclif's picture

Charging a nominal publication/hanging fee on the winners work enables us to keep the initial entry fee price down which we hope encourages more entries.

The TDC entry fees are very competitive with the other award organizations.

.00's picture

Sorry to show up unannounced.

One of my colleagues tipped me off to this thread. I see not much has changed since I "went postal". Is that what it is Hrant? Deciding that reading your endless shit is "going postal" well if that is the case I'm surprised that the majority of the folks here have not "gone postal" already.

Regarding "improving" the competition. Aren't you always going on about improving this or that? No skin off of your ass huh. Regarding the judges needing more time. This has been one of your idiot obsessions for years now. Hasn't it? Every year at the end of the competition, I ask the judges, "Did you have enough time." Their answer, every year is "Yes. Plenty of time, no reason to change the way this goes."

Weren't you going to organize some special type design competition? I remember you going on and on about it a while ago. What happened? Too real for you?

hrant's picture

Graham, FYI I myself am only focusing on the type design part.

keep the initial entry fee price down which we hope encourages more entries.

If you don't mind let's do the math (although roughly). Last year there were 173 entries and 13 winners. Choosing a mid-range entry (Type Family, Non-Member) this year's entry fee is $110 and the publication/hanging fee is $100. If you split 13 × $100 = $1,300 into 173 you get $7.51. So if you charged $118 (instead of $110) to enter but did not charge a publication/hanging fee you'd about break even.

Now, I have to agree that charging $8 more might reduce the number of entries, but maybe not worrying about the $100 fee for winning might offset that. But most of all: it's more straight-forward, more honest; right now it really feels like a "hidden cost" to some people (even though I admit it's not really hidden).

hhp

eliason's picture

If the incremental money is really funding the publication and hanging of the winners' works, it seems "more straightforward, more honest" to me to have those costs borne by those winners, rather than subsidized by the losers who get nothing out of it.

hrant's picture

It's a competition: losers aren't supposed to be rewarded, and winners aren't supposed to be punished. It's not the US tax system. :-)

The one thing a loser should -and does- get is anonymity.

BTW I can't think of any other type design competition that has ever charged winners anything. Is it common practice in other types of design competitions?

hhp

Chris Dean's picture

Personally, I’ve always felt competitions cheapen the profession. I don’t remember the last time I saw a surgery competition. And who would the judges be? The test patients ;P

5star's picture

If not adverse to paying my share ...just as long as TDC doesn't profit or gain, in any form, from the publication or the traveling exhibition of the winner work/property. Hence my original question. Why should I be /forced/ to pay for your profit/gain.

Can I opt out of the publication and traveling exhibitions?

That would be my choice ...I've already won the prize ...and I opt out of the publication and the traveling road show.

Take the cash and run!!!

n.

hrant's picture

Why should I be /forced/ to pay for your profit/gain.

Well, you're not forced to enter the competition. And I don't think anybody expects you to enter to make the TDC better off; people expect you to enter hoping to get something out of it. You know, a mutually-beneficial gambit.

BTW, I do think "the TDC is a not for profit organization" is a pretty good answer to your question.

Can I opt out of the publication and traveling exhibitions?

Officially, yes. But from what I understand (at least as of the last time I managed to "extract" the info) no winner has ever done that. So I guess that scenario hasn't been tested - but if push comes to shove I'd expect the TDC to exclude you lest it sets a damaging precedent.

BTW, there's no cash - it's strictly fame & glory.

hhp

5star's picture

BTW, there's no cash - it's strictly fame & glory.

hhp

Madness!!!

n.

JamesM's picture

> I don’t remember the last time I saw a surgery competition

True, but in the medical world there are various levels of certification, but in the U.S. there is no certification for designers; anyone can call themself a designer. So I think some professionals view awards as something to show clients as a way of validating their abilities. Contest fees are part of the cost of doing business.

Thomas Phinney's picture

I have no idea why Graham can't answer a direct question, but I'll share my understanding from the outside.

The entry fees cover the expenses of bringing the judges together for judging, which presumably include airfare, hotel and meals for those who are outside NYC.

The winners' fees contribute towards the expenses of mounting the traveling exhibit and showing it at other conferences and locations. For example, the TDC award winners are typically shown in a huge display at both TypeCon (somewhere in the US) and ATypI (somewhere else in the world).

As ATypI Treasurer, I can attest that ATypI pays a goodly chunk of the costs of getting the exhibit to our conference (this year was Hong Kong). However, my recollection is that we aren't normally covering all the costs. For example, the costs of actually printing each entry out as a big full-color poster....

charles ellertson's picture

@ Mr. Dean:
Personally, I’ve always felt competitions cheapen the profession.

So, what kind of measurements don't cheapen the profession?

5star's picture

Thanks Thomas, I'm cool with whatever... I understand it's all a labor of love anyways.

Hey Graham, into which category should I enter a sculpture? Communication Design seems right. And for a historical reference ...think artist Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture.

Even though I'll have to pony up for the Jan. 15the submission deadline ...I think it's time to raise the bar.

n.

.00's picture

At the moment Graham is at an emergency meeting. He and all of the TDC Board are in a secret bunker dealing with sensitive global typographic issues. As a past president of the TDC I have been asked to answer.

The expenses don't go to offset the cost of THE traveling exhibit, they go to offset the costs of ALL the traveling exhibits, several of which travel around the world for several years, finally coming to rest at various places for permanent display. So the winner's hanging fees pay for the winning entries exposure via the traveling exhibits and publication in the annual "Typography". Quite a bargain when on thinks of the monthly cost of a full-page ad in one of the design magazines.

@5star
If the sculpture is typographic in nature then enter it in Communications Design. If the sculpture is a set of letters that can be manipulated enter it into the Typeface Design.

The Typeface Design competition is exactly that, it is not a Font Software competition.

Good luck.

oldnick's picture

As a former winner of two, count 'em, two TDC awards, I can attest to the value of the cachet which attends such honors: they essentially launched my professional career. 'Nuff said?

Chris Dean's picture

@charles_e: An honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work.

John Hudson's picture

It seems to me that the questions for potential entrants are simply 'Do you think the possible kudos and exposure from being selected in the TDC competition(s) is worth the investment of the entry fee?' and 'Do you think being selected and having your work shown in the travelling exhibitions and the TDC annual is worth the investment of the hanging fee?' If the answer to either of these questions is 'No', or if you have a philosophical objection to competitions in general, don't enter. Clearly, the answer for many people is 'Yes', and the TDC competitions have been successful for many years.

5star's picture

Thanks James, Comm. D. it is then...

He and all of the TDC Board are in a secret bunker dealing with sensitive global typographic issues.

lol

n.

Arthus's picture

Since there are also questions being answered:

I wonder, I might have something to send this year (or otherwise next) but your fee system is a bit confusing: I have a typeface which can also be layered, should this count as a single entry? (since it is, the glyphs are stylistically not different, but can add up for an extra effect)

Paying almost double for just this effect seems strange to me, since it's not really a family.

I think the normal pricing isn't that bad looking at other competitions.

.00's picture

@Arthus
Your layered entry sounds like a single entry, since individual pieces cannot exist by themselves.
If it is published/released in 2012 then it has to be entered this year. If you hold off until 2013 then it should be entered next year.

My advice to you and all entrants is to make your entry samples look as good as you can and show off the typeface in its very best light. Over the years I've seen so many entries fail because whoever put them together did the most minimum job. Just showing a character set is never going to get you very far, yet many entries do just that. A pity really.

And with that please refrain from the "All entries should be on a common template and exactly the same". That was done the first year of the competition and I cannot tell you what a mind-numbing hell that was for the judges. The rules give the entrant wide latitude in creating the submission. If you are not a good typographer, by all means have a good typographer help you with the submission.

hrant's picture

It's entirely natural for a judge to be more amenable to selecting a typeface with a flashy specimen, but especially for a text face I think the onus is on the judges to figure out if it's actually good (although I agree that a simple charset is of course not enough). I don't think entrants should be punished for not having great skills in using type (or not being able to get such help) because that's not what the award is for. So it might be good to provide a decent template (maybe even require it) but also allow entrants to add anything they want. FWIW this is how the Granshan competition does it.

hhp

Yulia's picture

I have a question about showing a full character set. As I could understand from the rules one style should be placed on a single page of A3 format and there should be both character set and examples of using typeface. So what to do if the character set is large and you have a display font? There's simply no space on the one page of A3 format. So is it possible to take 2 pages for the style or should I show a reduced character set? And what is more important (if I have to reduce something) a character set or examples of using?And if I use my type also in illustrations can I include it as an example?

.00's picture

If the typeface is not presented in a way that allows the judges to see how it functions then they cannot judge its value.

It is not an alphabet drawing contest.

Doing everything one can to present the entry in the best light is in the best interest of the entrant. I never said the specimen needed to be "flashy". It only needs to present the typeface in the best possible light.

For a text typeface, a well-set nicely spaced block of text would be appropriate. Setting a text typeface in text sizes would also be appropriate and necessary. A display design would require some display settings at display sizes.

@Yulia
Use as many pages as you feel is necessary to present the typeface in the best way.

Yulia's picture

Thank you for the answer! And if I send a type system is it allowed to show text and display faces in use together? And is it necessary for all styles have the same character set or different sets are also allowed? Sorry for so many questions, I'm thinking of participation for the first time.

Arthus's picture

Thanks for the clarification! Also the 'as many pages' is a welcome clarification, I didn't know that.

My release isn't in my hands so that's why I was still not sure about this our next year, but yes I want to show it from it's best angle. Thankfully I have quite a few possibilities for specimen use.

I must add about the layering: It doesn't have to be layered, but it's an extra feature which broadens the usability of the typeface. In that regard I could agree it's an extra 'style'. But since there is no change to the glyphs themselves except for which part is 'filled' I'd say it's still the same.

.00's picture

@Yulia
You are the designer. If you have determined that the text and display designs have different character sets, so be it. And yes, show the text and display being used together. Show the entire system off to the best of your ability.

Sulekha Rajkumar's picture

Hi Graham,

Just wanted to know when submitting an entry in the packaging design category (Communication Design), is it ok if the images entered are 3D renders of the pack and not photographs of the pack itself? Reason being, the packs are distributed in another city and the contents are perishable (milk). So I can't get hold of the product to shoot it.

Thanks,
Sulekha

.00's picture

Graham is still in the typographic bunker.

Sulekha, If it is impossible to provide photographs of the packing then a high quality 3D rendering would be acceptable.

Yulia's picture

Graham, thank you for the answer, and could you also explain the procedure of payment, please? I haven't any credit card so I'm going to make a money order. It is written in the rules that If payment is made by money order it must be drawn on a U.S. bank. I'm not in the USA and does it mean that I have to find a department of a US bank in my city and send a payment to the TDC address (347 West 36th St. Suite 603 • New York NY 10018 USA)? Or should I send my order to some special US bank where TDC has an account (and then where to find out the requisites of it)? I can't understand it, please help to clear out. I want to be sure that my order will reach the right address.

Maxim Zhukov's picture

Юля, drop me a line off-list, okay?

5star's picture

Graham is still in the typographic bunker.

This typographic bunker is beginning to intrigue me...

n.

Chris Dean's picture

@Yulia: Please have financial discussions with banking information &c privately.

dberlow's picture

"This typographic bunker is beginning to intrigue me..."

Everyone should have one. I have seven cans of dehydrated quads and five boxes of smoked line-to's, in mine.

.00's picture

Further information regarding what the "Publication/Hanging" fees pay for

TDC traveling exhibits.
There are seven (7) traveling shows.
North America
England/France
Germany
Spain
Russia
Japan
Asia

That and publication in the annual "Typography"

hrant's picture

Sure. Just bump up the entry fee by $8 and that way people -who are only entering because they think they can win- get a more realistic feeling (that's all it is) for what they're agreeing to.

BTW it would be gracious -not to mention conducive to [even] better results- to make it easier for non-Americans to enter. For one thing not everybody can get their credit card to work... ;-)

hhp

Chris Dean's picture

If there were no entry/hanging fee, would the additional submissions make for more publishable content = more sales of the “Typography” publication?

hrant's picture

Only the winners are published, and they might not want too many winners, so not necessarily.

hhp

Chris Dean's picture

Perhaps they could change who is published? Just making up ideas. Myself, I’d be more likely to spend money on an issue with the top 100, and the winners, than just the winners.

hrant's picture

Losers don't like that fact advertised.

hhp

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