Call for Artists and Designers: Black And Free – Typeface Design

Creative Brief and Call – Typeface design

Black And Free

Deadline extended: September 6, 2022

Principal Investigator: Dr. Naila Keleta-Mae

Black And Free is a multi-year artistic and academic experience for engaged, curious and casual members of the progressive public. Black And Free deepens, enlivens and expresses themes of blackness and freedom, projecting expansive visions of what that could be.


This is a written brief and call for the development of an original typeface for Freedom in Black Expressive Culture – Black and Free (BAF) to eventually be licensed under Creative Commons License to be distributed publicly.

Budget & Collaboration

The commission is $3,000 CAD. Within this $3,000 we do not expect the full typeface to be completed. We would aim for deep collaboration between yourself and Studio Otherness (BAF Project Partner) to set a trajectory for the typeface within that set amount and take the work as far as possible.

What we’re making together

  1. A “display type” font – inspired by our moodboard
  2. Type design and conceptual development in collaboration with creative lead, Studio Otherness
  3. Typeface will contain standard roman alphabet in one case (A through Z in either UPPER CASE or lower case), numbers 0-9, and French accents and diacritical marks
  4. The typeface/font compiled will be in a vector format, through common vector programs (eg. Adobe Illustrator) or Glyphs (professional font software).

Your qualifications

Our grant has one requirement: That you as an artist or designer identify as Black and reside in Ontario, Canada.

If you have graphic design, lettering or illustration experience, or visual fine arts experience that resonates with the moodboard, please apply with your most relevant work. Studies have shown that women and people of color are less likely to apply to jobs unless they meet every single qualification. If you’re excited about this project but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to apply anyways. We appreciate that type design is a highly specific field, and have purposefully set up this brief and design process to be collaborative and expressive.


Black and Free examines what Black culture teaches us about blackness and freedom in the 21st century. The designing of the typeface is part of Black and Free’s goal to employ and bring awareness to contemporary Black designers in Ontario. The BAF typeface design will represent the visualization of blackness and freedom declaring Black Canadian design’s rightful place on the global design stage.


The Black And Free typeface is intended to be a consistent thread throughout all Black and Free initiatives and shared with all partners across this multi-year experience.

  1. To create a unique and instantly recognizable brand language for the Black and Free project
  2. To equip our partners across Ontario with a way to consistently express the Black and Free brand look
  3. To challenge, inspire, and interrogate the link between a typographic expression and the themes of being Black and Free

Who is it for

Our typeface will serve two audiences:

  1. Our partners and collaborators who will be combining the Black and Free brand toolkit alongside their own branding (often artist communities, galleries, publications and academics)
  2. Engaged, curious and casual members of the progressive public interested in experiencing and engaging with any of the programs related to Black and Free

What is it one of

Black and Free will follow themes describing the aesthetics, context, and material conditions surrounding transnational and transhistorical expressions of Black freedom. In doing so it follows three themes:

  1. how blackness and freedom are performed in Black expressive culture (ie. theatre, visual art, media arts, dance) and in public;
  2. the historical and social contexts for expressions of blackness and freedom as they are imagined and reflected in each type; and
  3. the material conditions that make these expressions of blackness and freedom possible.

How is it different

This project proposes both an innovative program of research around three distinct themes that outline the importance of freedom to Black expressive culture and an innovative methodology that includes artists and communities in shaping the direction of the research and its outcomes.

The research is organized into five sub-projects

  1. Theatre education and programming for young audiences.
  2. New artistic works by established and emerging Black Ontario artists;
  3. Public programming events;
  4. Digital assets; and,
  5. A book published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Each of the projects involves different degrees of interaction and collaboration with academic personnel, artists, the public, and partner institutions


Funded by the Ontario Research Fund – Research Excellence Grant Round 10, granted by Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities, this research project is supported by the University of Waterloo and budgeted to receive sizable In-Kind donations from private and public sector partner personnel.

This research project will support and elevate the work of Black artists, providing researchers and their academic institutions with a test case for the potential of a substantial public program engaged with ideas of blackness and of freedom to attract significant audiences in Ontario.

The brand character

Expansive, intriguing, familiar, urgent

The brand values

  1. Black Expressive Culture
  2. Freedom of expression
  3. The power of the imagination as a way of navigating the space between performer and audience
  4. Individual agency and global reception

What’s next

The commissioned typeface will be used in the branding and typesetting of all materials related to the project. Conceptual territories have already been defined (see appendix), next steps are exploring the visual qualities of the typeface.

Submission criteria

Your submission must contain the following:

  1. Digital Portfolio: of previous work as it relates to this project, including title, year created, and short descriptors of your past works.
  2. Your hourly rate for this project

How to submit your proposal

Submissions are due by 11:59pm on September 6, 2022.

Please submit your PDF Portfolio, or website link to relevant projects proposal to

Please use the subject line “BAF – Typeface Submission”