After nearly 75 years of nurturing excellence in type design, the Type Directors Club is, temporarily at least, no more. The board has announced that the TDC has “decided to dismantle the organisation in its current state”. The reason? A combination of financial pressures, exacerbated by Covid-19, and fall out from the resignation of board member Juan Villanueva, who, in an open letter, had called the TDC a “racist organisation”.
Villanueva, who is a type designer at Monotype Studio in New York, went on to say that, “I’m resigning because the TDC board doesn’t foster a collaborative environment and is not truly open to change.”
The history of the Type Directors Club follows a pattern shared by many such organisations in the creative sector. It was formed in New York in 1946 by some of the leading designers of the day, including Aaron Burns and Louis Dorfsman. One of its first actions was to set up a lecture series. In 1953, an awards scheme was launched. Conferences, medals and annuals followed. Before its decision to dissolve its current structure, the TDC had stated its aims as building a community, supporting students and young professionals and recognising excellence in type design.
These organisations are built on the notion of a self-selecting elite coming together to raise the profile of the industry, and ensure its future well-being
It’s a familiar story, one largely shared by the likes of D&AD, the One Club and the various art directors clubs around Europe. These organisations are built on the notion of a self-selecting elite coming together to raise standards, raise the profile of the industry, and ensure its future well-being.
They are modelled on the idea that all practitioners should strive for excellence – excellence based on the quality of the work they produce, viewed through the prism of commercial and artistic success. This excellence is typically validated through the winning of an award or, as with AGI, through peer nomination and review. A ‘good’ designer is someone who produces ‘good’ work.