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Span Nick Adam

Associate Partner & Design Director

Nick Adam

Nick Adam is associate partner and design director at Span with two decades of experience. Nick’s strategic, values-driven work focuses on the power of identity, through which typographic details, design maneuvers, and interactive gestures embrace qualities that are true to the entities he collaborates with. He has a reputation for exquisite typography and craft that is concept-driven, direct, and emotionally resonant. Through his work, Nick designs brand identities and interactive touch points that shift culture, build value, and create advocates.

Nick’s body of work — which spans the civic, cultural, innovation, and nonprofit worlds — reflects his commitment to the public realm, diverse cultures, and communities. The clients he partners with appreciate his inclusive process that builds ­­­a sense of co-own­er­ship and strengthens outcomes. His portfolio includes leading the rebrand of the Nature Museum, the renaming and design of a fish species for the U.S. government, as well as leading the naming and design of Divvy (Chicago’s bicycle system) for the City of Chicago and IDEO. Nick’s work is dis­tin­guished by an abil­i­ty to nav­i­gate com­plexity, bud­gets, and institutional bureau­cra­cy while ele­vat­ing deliverables ­to be mem­o­rable and inspir­ing.

His work has been published globally by The Economist, Smithsonian Magazine, CBC, The Telegraph, NPR, Associated Press, and other outlets. In addition, the projects Nick has led have been internationally celebrated with recognition from the Type Directors Club of New York, the Tokyo Type Directors Club, Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Award, and Core77. However prestigious, Nick is most proud that these honors bring well-deserved recognition to his clients and the communities they serve.

Nick has a Masters of Fine Art (MFA) in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he has also taught. Nick also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Visual Communication from The Illinois Institute of Art. Work design by Nick exists in the permanent collections of the AIGA Design Archives, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives, and the Newberry Library.

Lectures & Workshops

2023, Chicago Design Archive, 20th Anniversary, Guest Lecturer
2023, AIGA Salt Lake City, The 100 Show, Judge
2023, Design Museum of Chicago, Riso Workshop Facilitator
2022, Society of Typographic Arts
2022, Underscore, Chicago Graphic Design Club
2022, Sam Fox School of Design, Panelist
2022, MIAD, Great Ideas of Humanity, Panelist
2021, DAAP School of Design (DAAP), Guest Lecturer
2021, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Guest Lecturer
2021, McHenry community college (MCC), Panelist
2021, College of Creative Studies (CCS), Guest Lecturer
2021, Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Guest Lecturer
2020, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Guest Lecturer
2020, San Fransisco University (SFU), Guest Lecturer
2020, Western Michigan University (WMU), Guest Lecturer
2020, Columbia College, Guest Lecturer
2019, First Round, Underconsidoration — Noodles Identity
2019, Typeforce 10, Co-Prosperity Sphere, Publicness
2019, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Guest Lecturer
2018, Rhode Island School of Design, Public Thesis Defense
2018, Rhode Island School of Design, Public Position Presentation
2016, Chicago Design Week, The Nerdologues, On Practice
2016, AIGA + STA student group, Conference Keynote
2016, Dominican University, Contemporary Political Branding
2016, Veritiv Paper Show, Paper Persona Keynote
2016, Chicago Design Week, Riso Workshop
2016, Haile Foundation, People's Liberty, Workshop
2016, AIGA National, Innovation Grant, Co-Facilitator
2015, Printers Ball, Risograph Workshop, Facilitator
2015, Type Directors Club, Typeforce New York, Keynote
2014, SAIC, Design Issues Class, Guest Lecturer
2014, Design Madison, Make Conference, Keynote
2014, The School of Design at UIC, Keynote
2013, Apple Store, Lincoln Park — Keynote
2013, PechaKucha, Chicago Volume 26
2013, Northern Illinois (NIU), Seek Conference — Keynote
2013, Center for Books and Paper Arts, Typography Symposium
2012, Center for Books and Paper Arts, Typography Symposium
2012, Archeworks, Winter Workshop, Facilitator
2012, The Illinois Institute of Art, Spark Conference, Keynote
2011, Moving Design, Call to Action, Co-Facilitator
2010, Columbia College, Type as Image, Guest Lecturer


2023, Kind Words 2, You Are Beautiful Gallery
2023, Great Ideas of Humanity, Chicago Cultural Center
2023, Field Days, Design Museum of Chicago
2023, You Are | I Am, You Are Beautiful Gallery
2022, Free and Open, Design Museum of Chicago
2022, Kind Words, You Are Beautiful Gallery
2022, Great Ideas of Humanity, Brooks Stevens Gallery at MIAD
2021, Successful Failures, Chicago Cultural Center
2020, Typeforce 11, Co-Prosperity Sphere
2019, Typeforce 10, Co-Prosperity Sphere
2018, STA Chicago Characters, The Mart
2018, RISD Graphic Design Triennial, Woods Gerry
2018, Call to Action: The Design of Protest, AIGA Toledo
2018, Graduate Show, 2018 RISD Graduate Exhibition
2018, Selections, Sol Koffler Gallery
2018, Great Ideas of Humanity, Chicago Design Museum
2017, The Design of Dissent, Mirko Ilic and Milton Glaser — SVA
2017, Signs of Resistance, Poetry Foundation
2017, RISD MFA Graphic Design Biennial, Sol Koffler Gallery
2017, Dismantled, Sol Koffler Gallery
2016, Vernacular Spectacular, RISD Museum
2016, Fine Art of the Risograph, Chicago Design Museum
2016, Chicago Design Week, Chicago Athletic Association
2016, Block 37 Pedway, Ordinary
2015, Design Observer, 50 Books 50 Covers
2015, Designer Printer Maker, Chicago Athletic Association
2015, 26th Annual Paper Show, The Chicago 50
2015, Block 37 Pedway, Ordinary
2015, Printers Ball, Spudnik Press, No Clear Goal
2015, Type Directors Club, Typeforce NYC
2014, CHGO DSGN, Expo Chicago
2014, CHGO DSGN, Chicago Cultural Center
2014, 25TH Annual Paper Show, The Chicago 50
2014, TDC60, Cooper Union, TCDC in Bangkok Thailand
2014, Society of Typographic Arts, Best in Show
2014, Paint Paste Sticker, Chicago Cultural Center
2013, A Decade of You Are Beautiful, Green Exchange
2012, Typeforce 3, Co-Prosperity Sphere,
2012, Share Your Beauty, Mission Cultural Center,
2011, Write Now, Chicago Cultural Center
2011, WBEZ Winter Block Party, Chicago Urban Art Society
2011, Pop-Up Art Loop, Chicago Loop Alliance
2011, Letter/Form, Flatcolor Gallery, Portland Or.
2011, Typeforce 2, Co-Prosperity Sphere
2011, Fair Warning, Comfort Station
2010, Printervention on Tour, Whistler and Open Lot
2010, Printervention, Expo72, Version Fest
2010, Typeforce, Co-Prosperity Sphere
2010, The Daley Show, Chicago Urban Art Society
2008, The Upset, Art Show, Co-Prosperity Sphere
2004, Little Utopias, Heaven Gallery, Select Fest 3