Updike Prize for Student Type Design
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 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.
Applicants must conduct at least one on-site visit* to use type specimens in the Updike Collection within 24 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.
Applications are due in September of every other year and accepted on a rolling basis. The current deadline is 5:00 PM, September 5, 2025. Applications may be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to:
Special Collections, Updike Prize
Providence Public Library
150 Empire Street
Providence, RI, 02903
Applications will consist of three parts:
- The application entry form.
- 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”.
- 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.
First Prize includes $500. Up to two runner-up prizes may also be awarded.
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.
Updike Prize Winners and Finalists
The 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.
- Clara Cayosa, Montallegro (Revival) (First Prize)
- Emily Bludedorn, Household Management
- Tina Zhou, Dupe
- Corrine Ang, Fluoral (First Prize, co-winner)
- Peter Nowell, Napoleon (First Prize, co-winner)
- Mallika Nanda, Mojari (First Prize)
- Liam Spradlin, Girassol
- Benjamin Tuttle, No Gothic
- Gene Hua, Frisk (First Prize)
- Stephanie Wintaro, Altar (Runner-Up)
- Ana Andreeva, Pünktlich
- Annabel Brandon, Updike Nouvel
- Erica Carras, Raleigh Condensed (First Prize)
- Joseph Allegro, Meadows (Runner-Up)
- June Shin, Ithaka (First Prize)
- SooHee Cho, The Black Cat
- Cem Eskinazi, Mond
- Íñigo López Vázquez, Erik Text
- Sandra Carrera, Picara (ECAL©) (First Prize)
- Chae Hyun Kim, Hodoo
- Prin Limphongpand, Rizvele (Runner-Up)
- Yeon Hak Ryoo, Tranche
Each prize year we host a celebration of our student type designers with an award ceremony featuring an invited lecturer or panelists. This year's event will take place on November 15th. Visit the library calendar for more information and to register for this free event.
Previous speakers at the Updike Prize Ceremony have included:
- 2023: Katie Garth
- 2019: Panel featuring Elizabeth Carey-Smith, Paul Barnes, Marie Otsuka, David Jonathan Ross
- 2018: Victoria Rushton
- 2017: Nina Stössinger (video of the lecture on YouTube)
- 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