Typeforce 4 creates a stir

Firebelly Design and Public Media Institute's annual typography exhibition pulls in the crowds

Nearly 1,000 people poured though the doors at Chicago’s experimental cultural centre Co-Prosperity Sphere for the opening night of Typeforce 4, the city’s annual showcase of emerging typographic talent.

Music, memorial candles, gold balloons, tossed red roses, human busts and a psychedelic painted pig greeted visitors on Friday 1st March as they arrived in droves at the exhibition launch event, where cocktails flowed and attendees were encouraged to forget their busy working weeks in an inspiring celebration of typographic and lettering excellence.

Featuring some of today's youngest, strongest and most contemporarily relevant design, type and lettering talent, this year’s Typeforce exhibits 22 stunning projects from 45 artists – and you have until Friday 15th March to catch the show.

Now in its fourth year, the exhibition is organised and curated by Chicago studio Firebelly Design and non-profit arts and culture organisation Public Media Institute.

Typeforce 4 opening night

Nearly 1,000 people turned up to the opening night of Typeforce 4

“Our goal is always to make the event bigger and better,” explains Will Miller, creative director at Firebelly – and a key player in the creation of this year’s impressive window installation.

“We crafted a slim, custom, roman numeral set, then poured, sprayed, fiberglass-backed and built 6-feet-tall letterforms that referenced early inscriptional lettering, messages chiselled in stone and the earliest decipherable mark-making.” He laughs: “Our fingers might be filled with microscopic fibreglass shards for the rest of our lives, but it was worth it.”

Typeforce takeaways
Visitors left reluctantly at the end of the opening night, clutching an array of valuable Typeforce 4 takeaways – including a sketchbook featuring the exhibition poster – printed by the event’s printing, finishing and paper collaborators: Graphic Arts Studios, Delta Press, sustainable paper company Domtar and Unisource.

“It was a great, successful, satisfying night,” says Miller. “We’re already looking forward to doing it again.”

The studio’s attentions will soon be focused on cataloguing the event, showcasing the featured projects along with photos from the opening night, artist information and more in a high-quality printed book. “We're aiming for artistry and innovation,” Miller adds. “Our first two catalogues have been popular internationally, won awards, and been featured in many respected design publications and blogs.”

If you’d like to be involved next year, keep an eye on the Typeforce Facebook page for information about the submission date for Typeforce 5, plus progress on the Typeforce 4 catalogue.

Will Miller's submissions poster for Typeforce 4

Will Miller's submissions poster for Typeforce 4