Tanner Woodford

Tanner is founder, executive director and bartender of the Chicago Design Museum. He teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and makes Iterative Work.

As a designer, educator and entrepreneur, he has taught, lectured and led workshops on design issues, social change and design history in classrooms and at conferences. He is irrepressibly optimistic, believing design has the capacity to fundamentally improve the human condition. He lives and works in Chicago, Ill.

Interested in collaborating?
Invite me to your city, or just say hello!

Recent Work




What's Worth Preserving? Book of 50 Handwritten Letters on Kickstarter

Plumbs, fountain pens, expressions of true love and the pursuit of question are among the 50 handwritten answers from people across all walks of life. Pre-order this new book of handwritten answers to a broad, philosophical question, including wonderful humans like Dave Eggers, Debbie Millman and Alisa Wolfsonon Kickstarter until 20 October 2017. (Campaign video: Matthew Bowie)


Chicago Design Museum

Founded in 2012, the Chicago Design Museum (ChiDM) strengthens design culture and builds community. Headquartered in a public shopping mall, the museum is free and open to the public. Its staff, boards and volunteers plan two exhibitions and dozens of events every year.


Chicago Design Market

Market is an assembly of five connected pop-up stores on the third floor of Block 37. Together, they promote community and learning through experience, positioning established brands alongside emerging artists and designers. Managed by ChiDM, leases range from one to three months between July and December 2017, with rent paid through shared revenue.


Blackbox Gallery

Nestled between a print shop and podcast recording studio at the Cards Against Humanity headquarters in Chicago is the Blackbox Gallery. Managed by ChiDM, exhibitors have included Jay Ryan, Vichcraft, VGA Gallery, Art Paul, Debbie Millman and Matthew Hoffman.


Iterative Work

Iterative Work is a flexible brand. Only one volume is available at a time and each discontinues the next. Volume 2.8 introduces Block Alphabet Heavy, a series of 26 letters across 21 styles. It balances a rigorous design process against a print-on-demand service. Choose carefully.


Chicago Ideas Stage Design

Every year, Chicago Ideas culminates in 30,000 instigators gathering and connecting in venues across Chicago. With a production team, I collaborated on stage design for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cadillac Palace, Morningstar and the Vic Theatre in 2016.


Great Ideas of Humanity One of a Series

The Great Ideas of Humanity is an acknowledgment of the increasing globalization or our world and resulting cross-pollination of ideas, philosophies, societies and culture. In this spirit, it connects contemporary artists with important thinkers, creating new a new series of advertisements. It has been displayed in Hong Kong and Chicago.


The Design Pack for Cards Against Humanity

The Design Pack is a Cards Against Humanity expansion pack. It includes 30 illustrated cards that interpret George Carlin's infamous 1972 monologue, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” Proceeds from sales generously support ChiDM. Pictured is my contribution.


The Shape of Things to Come Mobile

Made with Might Make out of wood, silver paint and fishing line, "The Shape of Things to Come" twirls, sparkles and beckons its reader to stop and imagine a more optimistic future. On exhibition at the Threadless headquarters in Chicago.


The success of these projects is contingent on dozens of talented collaborators. Context and credits are detailed on individual project sites. Questions?

A selection of appearances, interviews and workshops:

Currently entertaining speaking inquiries.


2017 Nov, Chicago Printer's Guild Publisher's Fair
2017 Oct, Bend Design Conference
2016 Nov, Adobe Career Bootcamp, Keynote
2016 Sept, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
2016 May, Lake FX Summit, Session Moderator
2016 Mar, Columbia College Chicago
2016 Mar, Fireside Chat with Charles Adler
2016 Feb, Arizona State University
2016 Jan, FITC FORM Conference
2015 Aug, EPIC Chicago
2015 Jun, SEGD Conference, Moderator
2015 Jun, American Packaging Summit
2014 Nov, SEEK Conference
2012 Sept, Phoenix Design Week
2012 Sept, AIGA Chicago
2012 Jul, AIGA Arizona


2017 Dec, Newcity Chicago, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Palestine
2017 Dec, WBEZ Morning Shift, 91.5 FM, It's All Fun And Games
2017 Oct, WBEZ Morning Shift, 91.5 FM, What's Worth Preserving in Chicago?
2017 Oct, WGN Radio, 720 AM, The Download with Justin Kaufmann
2017 May, WGN Radio, 720 AM, Nocturnal Journal with Dave Hoekstra
2017 Mar, Newcity Chicago, Design 50: Who Shapes Chicago, #4
2017 Feb, WGN Radio, 720 AM, The Download with Justin Kaufmann
2016 Sept, Day After Reading, Across America with Ludovic Balland
2016 Jan, Newsweek, 'Cards Against Humanity' Makers Won't Destroy a Picasso
2015 Sept, PRINT Magazine, 75 Exclusive Designs for PRINT's 75th Anniversary
2015 Mar, Newcity Chicago, Design 50: Who Shapes Chicago, #2
2015 Jul, Fast Company, Cards Against Humanity's Latest Pack Is All About Design
2015 Jul, Complex, 10 Chicago Art Personalities You Should Know
2014 Jun, EXPO CHGO The Seen, ChiDM // Starts/Speculations
2014 May, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Design Museum launches Kickstarter drive
2014 Apr, Chicago Reader, ChiDM has designs on a permanent home
2013 May, Nothing Major, ChiDM hosts opening reception June 11
2010 Jun, US Patent Office, Multiple, Independent UI's for an A/V Device
2009 Feb, Fast Company, Branding Overload in Your (Clock) Face


2018 Dec, What's Worth Preserving? A Letter Writing Workshop
2017 Oct, Bend Design Conference: Longhand, Writing Letters
2017 May, Longhand: A hand- and letter-writing workshop
2016 Sept, Enzo Mari: Open-source Furniture Building
2016 Aug, Design + Diversity Conference: Risograph workshop
2016 Jun, ChiDM × STA Chicago: Risograph Workshop
2015 Oct, Enzo Mari: Open-source Furniture Building
2015 Aug, Enzo Mari: Open-source Furniture Building
2014 Jun, Camp Firebelly Marketing Competition

Courses taught

2017, SAIC, Design Thinking for Social Change
2014–15, SAIC, Design Issues: Design as a Canon of Change
2010, Arizona State University (ASU), Advanced Media I+II
2009, ASU, Motion Graphics + Interaction Design I+II

Tanner Woodford