A view of The Updike Collection with a letterpress at Providence Public Library

Updike Prize for Student Type

If a printer is filled with a desire to improve his output, such a collection will be of help, not merely in the production of individual pieces of work, but in broadening and improving the mental outlook which he brings to his work as a whole. If a printer does not care how his work looks, this Library will not only be wasted on him but its implications will make him uncomfortable.

- Daniel Berkeley Updike

The Daniel Berkeley Updike Collection was opened to the public in 1937, and Updike intended it to be a source of learning and inspiration to printers with a desire to elevate their craft through the study of the history of printing. The annual Updike Prize for Student Type Design was created in the same spirit, rewarding undergraduate and graduate students who make use of the Updike Collection in their creation of a new typeface or typeface family.

Rules

Applicants must conduct at least one on-site visit to use type specimens in the Updike Collection within 18 months of the application deadline, and they must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program during the time of their visit. Only one typeface family may be submitted per year, per entrant; re-submissions, especially of further refined typefaces, are encouraged.

Applicants will retain full intellectual rights to the typefaces they submit for the competition. One use license will be granted to Providence Public Library for promotional purposes.

Deadline

Applications are due in September of each year and accepted on a rolling basis. The current deadline is 5:00 PM, 14 September 2018. Applications may be submitted by email to jgoffin@provlib.org or by mail to:

Special Collections, Updike Prize
Providence Public Library
150 Empire Street
Providence, RI, 02903

Submission Guidelines

Applications will consist of three parts:

  1. The application entry form.
  2. A type specimen with a representative character set, submitted as a pdf of up to four pages and designed to be printed at either 11"x17" or 8.5”x11”.
  3. A 250-500 word essay describing the typeface as well as the designer’s use of the Updike Collection and the role it played in the development of the typeface.

Prizes

First Prize includes $500. Up to two runner-up prizes may also be awarded, and all finalists will receive gift certificates to our sponsor, Paperworks.

Names of the finalists will be recorded on Providence Public Library's website, their specimen broadsides will be displayed in an exhibition at the library, and their typefaces will be featured in future Updike Prize promotional material. Copies of the specimen broadsides will also be added to the Updike Collection.

Thanks to Paperworks for generously sponsoring the Updike Prize.

Previous Winners and Finalists

The annual Updike Prize rewards undergraduate and graduate type designers whose work has been influenced by materials in the Updike Collection at Providence Public Library. Whether students choose to revive a historic typeface or to create a new typeface inspired by an earlier design, applications are judged on the quality of the specimen, the quality of the typeface submitted and how creatively and thoughtfully it interprets a historical model.

2017

  • Erica Carras, Raleigh Condensed (First Prize)
  • Joseph Allegro, Meadows (Runner-Up)

2016

  • June Shin, Ithaka (First Prize)
  • SooHee Cho, The Black Cat
  • Cem Eskinazi, Mond
  • Íñigo López Vázquez, Erik Text

2015

  • Sandra Carrera, Picara (ECAL©) (First Prize)
  • Chae Hyun Kim, Hodoo
  • Prin Limphongpand, Rizvele (Runner-Up)
  • Yeon Hak Ryoo, Tranche

Awards Ceremony

Prizes are awarded at a ceremony in the autumn. The ceremony features a talk by an expert in the field of type design. Our speaker for 2017 was Nina Stössinger, a Senior Type Designer at Frere-Jones Type in Brooklyn, NY. You can watch her lecture below.

Previous speakers at the Updike Prize Ceremony have included:

  • 2016: Fiona Ross
  • 2015: Tobias Frere-Jones
  • 2014: Matthew Carter (prize launch)

Examples of Type Specimens

(The examples provided here are not intended as templates. Applicants are encouraged to demonstrate their own creativity in designing a specimen that best displays their typeface.)

Examples of a few historic type specimens from the Updike Collection are available at our TypeSampling blog.
Contemporary type specimens are available online from sources like I Love Typography's "This Week in Fonts" posts.

Type Specimen Example Downloads - courtesy of The Font Bureau