UC announces winner of Canberra’s Centenary font design

31 October 2013: The winner of a University of Canberra competition to design a unique typeface to reflect the ‘style, spirit, prestige and character of the city of Canberra’ was announced today.

The Canberra Centenary Typeface Competition is an international challenge by the University of Canberra to design an exclusive and versatile typeface for the nation’s capital in the 21st century. 

From 84 entries submitted from all over Australia and as far as the United States, France, Chile, the Czech Republic and Indonesia, the winner of the grand $10,000 prize is James Raftopoulos from Melbourne. US entrant Alex Kaczun of Type Innovations was commended.

Chair of the competition and master typographer and art director, Mike Chandler, said the jury was pleased with the quality and scope of the submissions but Mr Raftopoulos’ typeface stood out because it “successfully addresses the elements and spirit of the brief”, which sought to uncover a typeface that had longevity and would be considered a “classic” well into the future.

“It delivers a typeface that captures the spirit of Canberra both for yesterday, today and tomorrow. The entry conveys a sense of the cultural and architectural history of Canberra translated in a contemporary form. The jury was impressed by the simple, clean and light expression evident in the typeface.

“We are confident that Mr Raftopoulos’ entry can be used as a display face for headlines and sub headings. It is a graceful yet modern typeface that reflects the potential of typographic design while instilling a reminiscence for the past,” Mr Chandler said.

Mr Raftopoulos, a freelance graphic designer based in Melbourne, was elated to be named the winner of the competition.

“I’m really honoured to have my typeface considered as a worthy winner,” Mr Raftopoulos said. “I entered on a whim and didn’t expect to win. It’s amazing and I still can’t believe it.”

The 26-year-old designer said his design came together relatively quickly. “It’s the first typeface I’ve ever designed and I was surprised how quickly the concept and initial letterforms came together. The challenge now will be fleshing out the rest of the characters and technical detail that comes with creating a useable typeface.”

Mr Raftopoulos, who only two years ago was working in a bank, said his idea was inspired by the brief and was loosely based on the plans that Walter Burley Griffin drew for Canberra. “I saw something there and put pen to paper and went from there.”

“The prize money will go to develop my design career,” Mr Raftopoulos said. 

The competition, which was endorsed by the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA), was open to everyone, from top designers and design students to individual members of the public.

Entrants were asked to display their typeface in the following sentence: ‘Five sexy Black Wizards judge Canberra Centenary Quest Champion’.

The Canberra Centenary Typeface had to be unique and should not have been published in any form prior to the competition. The University holds a non-exclusive licence to use the winning typeface for three years to advertise or publicise Canberra and/or the University.

The judging panel also included director of Melbourne-based typography firm Letterbox, Stephen Banham, The Canberra Times’ editor-in-chief, Rod Quinn, creative director of Grey Advertising Canberra, Matt Johnson and Sydney-based typographer Gemma O’Brien.

The University acknowledges the support of its sponsors The Canberra Times and Prinstant.  

  • The winner and members of the judging panel are available for interview
  • The winning typeface and the rest of the entries are on display on an online gallery here: www.canberra.edu.au/typeface/gallery
  • Images of the winning and commended entries are attached and available upon request

    Contact University of Canberra Media and Communications


    Edward O'Daly  02 62012441/0408829618

    Claudia Doman 02 62018677/0408826362
    Kristyn Comino: 02 6206 8845/0418 806 293