Tami Churns


  • Headcase


Like most other designers, I felt a strong and, until my adult years, completely unexplained attraction to letterforms from an early age. While other kids were practicing drawing their Bart Simpsons and Optimus Primes, I was obsessively scrawling alpha­bets across my notebooks. So needless to say, the typeforce exhibition was immediately appealing to me. Of course, it’s a great place to see some of the brightest minds in the design scene at work. But more than that, it’s an opportunity to have this bizarre, lifelong obsession with words and letters mirrored in others. If anything, typeforce is more like group therapy than an exhibition.

Headcase has a lot to do with this unique brand of obsession. I see the rules of typography at play just about everywhere. One particular train ride home, I even saw it in a stranger’s haircut: the top of his shining dome the cap height to a strange new letterform, his ponytail the bold descender. My pieces draw out the similarities between the anatomy of a letter and the anatomy of a hairstyle not only through form, but through typographic idioms as well (the pieces individually spell out “bowl,” “ascender” and “descender”). The cut out, halftoned black shapes on copier paper colors also draw heavily from punk and zine cultures, which often make their way into my work.


Tami came to the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2004 with the ambitions of becoming a painter and mixed media artist. She quickly fell in love with a graphic design course her sophomore year and never looked back, but still regularly pulls from her earlier collage work and illustrations. After graduating in 2008, she went on to work for firms everywhere from Baltimore to Sydney, until eventually ending up in beautiful Chicago. She now co-owns and runs Twin, a graphic design collective based out of Humboldt Park.


Digital print on archival paper