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Canberra is the capital city of Australia. It is a city that has everything - except its own definitive typeface.The first line, of course, drew my suspicion — Canberra really “has everything”? But beyond that, the “design competition” sounded more like a competition to see who will do the most spec work.
Therefore, to celebrate the city's 100th anniversary, the University of Canberra challenges the world's top typeface designers, typographers and graphic artists to create a typeface that reflects the style, spirit, character and prestige of Australia's capital.
Design brief, entry form, details and conditions are at: www.canberra.edu.au/typeface
Please feel free to forward this invitation to other top typographers and designers.
The entrant awarded first prize in the competition will grant to the University of Canberra an exclusive, royalty-free and irrevocable license in perpetuity to use the winning typeface for the purposes of publicizing the City of Canberra or the University of Canberra, or for any purpose associated with the publication, exhibition or promotion of the competition, or for any similar purpose, without further compensation to the entrant.But that’s not even the sneakiest thing. The landing page for the competition makes it sound as if this project has some official sanction:
Canberra is the capital city of Australia. … It seems logical therefore that our Centenary should celebrate one of the most essential skills exhibited by this city’s government ministers, politicians, apparatchiki, judiciary … [D]espite the plethora of printed words, this city that otherwise has everything, has no exclusive and definitive Canberra typeface. To remedy this lack … the University of Canberra has launched The Canberra Centenary Typeface Design Competition.But as the terms & conditions reveal, it does not:
The University of Canberra has no imprimatur to recommend the winning typeface be adopted by the Australian Government, ACT Tourism or the University of Canberra.So what is this really? Mostly a marketing effort for the University of Canberra, built on the free labor of gullible typographers worldwide, who apparently live in countries where landlords and grocery stores accept payment in Exposure, the favorite alternative currency of the creative & design disciplines.
Maybe things work differently in Australia, but here in the US, people get paid to do their jobs. Including type designers. This “competition” is nothing of the sort. It is simply an invitation to do a large amount of speculative work in the hopes of getting paid — an arrangement that any self-respecting designer would reject. I would be very surprised if any of the “world's top typeface designers” accept your “challenge.” This one certainly will not.I got a long reply back from John Astley, who seems to be the competition organizer. As for how the prize was established (emphasis mine):
[W]e have some excellent typographers and typeface designers in Australia, but not enough of them to justify the $10K (I originally asked for $20K because a substantial first prize was essential to attract publicity). When you think about the vast number of fonts available online, many of them free or for a small donation, it brings into perspective the fact that the least heard comment in Advertising and Publishing is "Hey, is that the Typographer's new Ferrari?'As for those onerous licensing terms:
Should the University of Canberra or Australian Capital Tourism choose to use the winning typeface, I have no doubt that a dialogue will be opened with the winner and any modifications or alterations would be at commercial rates.Hear that? There might be some more money for you! But despite Mr. Astley having “no doubt” about this “dialogue [being] opened,” it is not part of the official terms & conditions. Draw your own conclusions.