Nick Adam Design Director

Nick Adam,  Design Director Associate Partner, Span

Chicago, South Side, 47th Street

Nature Museum — Visual Brand Identity

Nick Adam is a Design Director and Associate Partner at Span. He is a strategic, values-driven graphic designer in Chicago with over two decades of experience in building brands. Nick’s body of work reflects his commitment to the public realm, diverse cultures, and communities.Nick has a reputation for exquisite typography and craft that is concept-driven, direct, and resonant. His work is distinguished by his ability to navigate complexity, budgets, and institutional bureaucracy while elevating deliverables to be memorable and inspiring.Clients appreciate Nick’s inclusive process, which strengthens outcomes. As a design leader, Nick guides teams and clients in designing brand identities, books, environments, and interactive touch-points that shift culture, generate value, and foster advocacy.
Slow & Low — Book Design
Copi: Rebranding an Invasive Fish as a Healthy Seafood Option
Chicago Lowrider Festival — Exhibition Design
Divvy Bikes — Naming and Visual Brand Identity
South Side Home Movie Project — Website Design and Visual Brand Identity

It is currently the

Graphic design


Book Design
Brand Identity Design
Campaign Design
Environmental Design
Exhibition Design
Interactive Design
Package Design
Design Research
In the media


Print, 2024
Brand New, 2024
Crain’s, 2024 
GD USA, 2024

Fast Company, 2023
The Dieline, 2023
Creative Boom, 2022
Smithsonian Magazine, 2022
The Economist, 2022
Ad Age, June 22nd 2022


Creative Boom, May 2024
Creative Boom, April 2024
New City,

Print, Daily Heller, 2023

Communication Arts, 2022
Print, Daily Heller, 2022
Underscore Podcast, 2022

Additional press here
International recognition


Society of Typographic Arts, STA100, 2023 (2×)
Anthem Awards for Sustainability & Climate, 2023
AIGA 365, 2022
Society of Typographic Arts, STA100, 2022 (2×)
Communication Arts, Interactive Short List, 2022
Society of Typographic Arts, STA100, 2021 (5×)
AIGA, 50 Books 50 Covers, 2021
Tokyo Type Directors Award, 2021 (2×)
Society of Typographic Arts, STA100, 2020 (2×)
Communication Arts, Typography, 2020
Society of Typographic Arts, STA100, 2019 (2×)
The Design Kids, Top Students and Graduates, 2017
Society of Typographic Arts, STA100, 2017 (4×)
Print Magazine, Regional Annual, 2016 (2×)
Society of Typographic Arts, STA100, 2016 (2×)
Type Directors Club, TDC61, 2015
Core77, Design Awards, Professional Notable, 2014
Under Consideration, FPO Awards, 2014
Fast Company, Innovation by Design, Finalist, 2014

Additional awards here
Permanent collections


AIGA Design Archives
Art Institute of Chicago Museum
Chicago Design Archive
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Design of Dissent Collection at SVA
Design Museum of Chicago
Milton Glaser Design Center and Archives at SVA
Newberry Library
Manuscript Library at Columbia University
RISD Fleet Library Thesis Collection
Ryerson and Burnham Libraries

Additional honors here

Discovery Partners Institute — Visual Brand Identity and Program System 
The Chicago Blend — Package Design
Nazareth University — Visual Brand Identity

Brand Identity Design 1981

Nick’s work has been published by The Economist, Smithsonian Magazine, NPR, and other outlets. In addition, projects Nick has led have been recognized by the TDC of New York, the Tokyo TDC, Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Award, and Core77.Prior to Span, Nick was an Associate Principal on Rick Valicenti’s team at Thirst. In addition, Nick has taught both typography and graphic design history at RISD. Earlier in his career, Nick held a hybrid design leadership role as Strategic Director at Firebelly.Nick’s career in design began within the diverse, underground subcultures of the 1990’s punk rock, rave, and graffiti-writing scenes. These life experiences provide a foundational awareness of cultural nuance, identity, and visual language.

The Silver Room — Brand Campaign 
Inflorescence — Visual Brand Identity and Packaging
Taste Tof Chicago — Visual Identity
The Silver Room — Visual Brand Identity and Merchandise   
Hot Chi — Naming and Visual Identity

Nick Adam, Design Director 
and Associate Partner at Span

New business inquiries

Chicago, South Side 
Kenwood Neighborhood

Copyright © 2024
Enjoy the day.


Nick Adam’s Complete CV

Have a project? Let’s work on it at Span.

Poetry Magazine — Cover Design and Lettering
Nkemdiche — Book Cover Design and Layout 
The Arts Lawn — Visual Brand Identity
Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun — Poster Design

Over decades of experience



Design Director and Associate Partner, Span
Principal, Span
Associate Principal, Thirst (3st)
Instructor, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Graduate Teaching Assistant, RISD
Strategic Director, Firebelly
Art Director and Designer, Publications International Limited (PIL) 
Designer, Ala Carte Entertainment (ACE)
Junior Designer, Illinois Institute of Art (ILIA)


Design Director, Special Project for Design Museum of Chicago (DMoC)
Designer and Laborer, Creative Grounds at Overton
Design Director, Daylight
Lead, Great Ideas of Humanity at DMoC
Facilitator, Moving Design
Design Participant, Moving Design
Facilitator, Camp Firebelly
Volunteer, Reason to Give


DePaul University, Guest Capstone Advisor
NC State College of Design, Expert Advisor
RISD, Visiting Critic
RISD, Instructor
RISD, Graduate Teaching Assistant
SAIC, Expert Advisor
School of Design at UIC, Guest Mentor
School of Visual Arts (SVA), Expert Advisor
Sam Fox, Guest Critic
Western Michigan University, Visiting Critic

Krueck Sexton Partners — Visual Identity Design
Chicago Cannabis Council — Visual Brand Identity
Society of Typographic Arts (STA) — Visual Identity Design and Campaign
Typeforce 4 — Exhibition Book Design
Rick Valicenti’s Earn Urn — Object Design and Lettering


Dawn Hancock (Firebelly)
Rick Valicenti (Thirst)
Bethany Johns (RISD)
Doug Scott (RISD)


Caxton Club
Society of Typographic Arts
Typographic Circle
Design Museum of Chicago


Masters of Fine Art (MFA) in Graphic Design
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Visual Communication
The Illinois Institute of Art (ILIA)

Have a project? Let’s work on it at Span.

WBEZ, Vocalo 91.1 FM — Visual Identity and Campaign 
Design Museum of Chicago — Chicago Flag

No where near the end

Conferences and Workshops

Chicago Design Archive, 20th Anniversary (‘23)
AIGA Salt Lake City, The 100 Show, Judge (‘23)
Design Museum of Chicago, Workshop Facilitator (‘23)
MIAD, Great Ideas of Humanity, Panelist (‘22)
First Round, Underconsidoration — Noodles Identity (‘19)
Typeforce 10, Co-Prosperity Sphere, Publicness (‘19)
Chicago Design Week, On Practice (‘16)
Veritiv Paper Show, Paper Persona Keynote (‘16)

Additional conferences and workshops here
Academic Lectures

DePaul University, Guest Lecturer, Capstone Advisor (‘24)
DAAP School of Design, Guest Lecturer (‘21)
Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Guest Lecturer (‘21)
McHenry community college, Panelist (‘21)
College of Creative Studies (CCS), Guest Lecturer (‘21)
SAIC, Guest Lecturer (‘21)
MICA, Guest Lecturer (‘20)
San Fransisco University, Guest Lecturer (‘20)
Western Michigan University, Guest Lecturer  (‘20)

Additional lectures here

Kind Words 2, You Are Beautiful Gallery (‘23)
Great Ideas of Humanity, Chicago Cultural Center (‘23)
Field Days, Design Museum of Chicago (‘23)
You Are | I Am, You Are Beautiful Gallery (‘23)
Free and Open, Design Museum of Chicago (‘22)
Kind Words, You Are Beautiful Gallery (‘22)
Great Ideas of Humanity, Brooks Stevens Gallery (‘21)
Successful Failures, Chicago Cultural Center (‘21)

Additional exhibitions here
Chicago Graphic Design Club — Editorial Design
False Force — Exhibition Installation
Typeforce 3 — Exhibition Book Design

Nick Adam is a graphic designer focused on the power of identity. With the teams and clients he collaborates, he designs brand identities, interactive touch points, spaces, and processes that shift culture, build value, and create advocates.

You Are Beautiful — Book Design
McCormick Foundation — Freedom Express Bus Museum Design

Nick Adam, Chicago Design Director,  © 2024

Chicago, South Side, 47th Street

I the St.

Enjoy the day

Chicago  Forever