October 3

8:00AM to 9:00PM—Registration

Morning Workshops

9:00AM to 1:00PM—The Chicago Poster with John Downer

In the 1920s, a riot of commercial lettering was seen in stores and on printed advertisements. Letterforms were vivacious, playful, and dynamic. They had medium stroke contrast, animated proportions, and elliptical serifs Alphabets made expressly for headlines led the way. Pen and brush construction formed the essence of their appeal.
Grab a spot in class and look back at the Roaring Twenties as you explore principles of letterform construction which now symbolize a memorable era in Chicago’s graphic past.

10:00AM to 12:00PM—How to do Business with Matthew Rechs

Through a series of short lectures, practice sessions, role-playing exercises and Q & A, Matthew Rechs will help you gain business insights that take most type designers years to learn.

11:00AM to 11:00PM—Uninvited Redesigns with Roger Black

Haven’t you ever looked at a sign or a logo, and thought, I could do better than that! Roger Black has. The editor of TYPE magazine and co-founder of Font Bureau, Roger will show a few examples of redesigns he’s done just because he couldn’t stand it any more. He invites you to bring in your own bete noirs—or even current projects for a quick, and collaborative rethink. Bring your laptop!

Morning Tours

10:00AM to 12:00PM—Starshaped Press Visit with Jen Farrel

Visit the innovative letterpress studio that combined contemporary typography with a 550 year-old craft. Here’s a chance to see foundry type and an original Vandercook. Letterpress puts into context the dimensionality of type. You can read about it, but there’s nothing like seeing it firsthand.

11:00AM to 12:00PM—Design Museum of Chicago Visit with Tanner Woodford

A special guided tour of the typographical side of the exhibit, “Setting the Stage: Objects of Chicago Theatre,” conducted by Tanner Woodford, who describes himself as the museum’s “founder, executive director, and bartender.” And if we’re lucky Tanner will pull a few Chicago type treasures out of the archive.

Lunch on your own

Afternoon Workshops

2:00 to 4:00PM—Web Typography with Lucas Czarnecki

Learn the little details and fun tricks that can take your web typography from passable to engaging. Hover effects, animations, variable fonts, and more—this hands-on workshop will teach you the tools you need for your next big web project. Lucas Czarnecki, the managing editor of TYPE, has been running online courses at for five years. Here’s a chance to work with him in person. Bring your laptop!

Afternoon Tours

2:00 to 4:00PM—Chicago Lettering Walk with Paul Shaw

One of Paul Shaw’s famous type tours, you’ll get a view of Chicago’s letterforms as seen by an expert eye. There’ll be stone inscriptions on landmarks, astounding historic neon signs, architectural graphics, and some ghost signs that you might have missed.

2:00 to 4:00PM—Thirst Visit with Rick Valicenti

A personal tour at a landmark of contemporary typography, Thirst, led by its founder, Rick Valicenti. The alumni list is a who’s who of Chicago typographers, but the focus of the tour is on the projects in house. (Friday, Rick will try to stack it all up—the history, and the direction of Chicago type.)

Workshops take place at the conference venue; tours take place at off-site locations.

While tours and workshops are included in the conference registration, spaces are limited. A separate registration link will be sent to Type Tales Chicago ticket-holders.

5:00PM—Reception, sponsored by Google

7:00PM—20th Century Chicago Designers and Their Type by Paul Shaw

One the best-known writers about type, Paul Shaw takes us through the extraordinarily rich type designs in Chicago a hundred years ago. A robust American style emerged, created by designers like Oswald Cooper and R. Hunter Middleton. The design strength was reinforced by the manufacturing precision of companies like Barnhart Brothers & Spindler and the Ludlow Typograph Company.
At that time, the city was an acknowledged leader in architectural design. Now it is time to recognize Chicago type design.


October 4

8:00 AM—Check-in and coffee

9:00 AM—Welcome by Roger Black and Susan Mango Curtis

9:05 AM—The Early Goudy by Steve Matteson

Frederic Goudy, born in Illinois, first became known as an advertising designer in Chicago, 100 years ago. His famous Village Press was started with the Arts & Crafts printer, Will Ransom, in a Chicago suburb. Matteson shows how Goudy’s short tenure in Chicago sparked a lifetime of world-recognized achievement.

9:45 AM—Frazier and The Inland Printer by Doug Thomas

The Midwest was a filled with printers, some big, some great, some both. Their trade journal was the Inland Printer, filled with the best examples of typography when type was made out of lead.

10:30 AM—Coffee Break

11:00 AM—A conversation with Will Miller and Nermin Moufti

Firebelly, a leading Chicago design agency, had a big year typographically. Starting with their Grant for Good, the studio redesigned the Type Director's Club’s website and collateral. Next, Typeforce, a curated event and show featuring emerging typographic artists organized by Firebelly, celebrated its 10th year. We'll talk about the past, present, future, and inspiration behind Typeforce.

11:45 AM—The Surrounding Type by Rick Valicenti

In 30 years operating Thirst, a unique type-foundry-in-a-design-studio, has learned to judge the shape and direction of the culture, and has responded with his designs. Now, Rick Valicenti is stacking up his notes, and is offers some conclusions about where we’ve been and where we’re going.

Lunch—continue the conversation with a speaker.

Cost not included in the registration. Participants: Watch your email for the sign-up form!

2:00 PM—Chicago Design through the Decades by Sharon Oiga and Guy Villa, Jr.

After a notoriously wild party on Lake Michigan in the 1920’s, the disavowed Chicago AIGA Chapter gathered to form The Society of Typographic Arts (STA). The salacious start of this professional design organization foreshadowed events to come in their 90-year history, including a temporary switch to the name of American Center for Design as well as an infamous dumpster-diving incident to save archival work. These factual incidents, uncovered in the research of the book created for the 90th anniversary of the STA, will be detailed in the presentation.

2:45 PM—Letterpress Revival by Jen Farrell

Starshaped Press has been a major contributor to the revival of letterpress printing in Chicago in the 21st century. Its proprietor, Farrell, shows how the press started, and what she’s learned along the way.

3:30 PM—Coffee Break

4:00 PM—H.C. Martin and the Chicago Poster by John Downer

Sign painter and show card writer John Downer will discuss Harold C. Martin’s influence on the Chicago Poster Style of the “Roaring Twenties” and on Downer’s own work in the trade. Examples from Martin's book, 1000 Practical Show Card Layouts, will be shown and explained.

4:30 PM—A New Typeface for Chicago by Patric King

Big Shoulders is a new system of condensed American Gothic typefaces, created in partnership with Ogilvy for the city and citizens of Chicago to use, without charge, in any way they see fit.

5:15 PM—Speaker Roundup

Mango Curtis leads all the participants (on stage and off) in a discussion of type issues, problems, and opportunities is Chicago—now and going forward.



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Type Designer and Historian
Chair of Graphic Design, University of Illinois at Chicago
Type Designer, Monotype