Big Shoulders: Fonts for Chicagoans

A talk with Patric King

In 2020, Chicago got its first identity program, called the Chicago Design System.

Its suite of typefaces, called Big Shoulders, was Patric King’s sole design task for two years. Patric talks about the process and technicalities involved in making type for an entire community, from research to equitable representation to design to publishing, in a way that an entire city—government to citizens—can use.


Patric King is is a designer with a head for language, type and organization; he began his career with Thirst in 1994. While there, he built the studio’s type foundry, and managed its online works. In 1999, he took a position with Leapnet to create a continuing education program for its 40 designers, then began HoP in 2002. From 2002-2012 he was the de facto visual creative director for Gawker Media. @xotypeco on Twitter & IG (DMs are open to everyone)

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