Benjamin Kaplan, Ben Kiel, Brad Fann, and Kelcey Towell
We created exhibition branding, lettering, and a poster design for "Living Like Kings: The Unexpected Collision of Chess and Hip Hop Culture," an exhibition at the World Chess Hall of Fame, which explores the shared histories and themes of chess and hip hop. The centerpiece of "Living Like Kings" is an immersive, multimedia experience created by artist Benjamin Kaplan, which includes archival and original videos, music, photography, custom-designed type and illustrations, and a series of interviews with figures from both the hip hop and chess worlds. The exhibition collateral is designed to drive attendance throughout its six month run and to related events and programming.
The World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) celebrates the game of chess and its intersection with history and culture, which allows for incredible opportunities to explore a variety of subjects both obviously and not so seemingly connected to the ancient war game. The “Living Like Kings” exhibition collateral draws from the diverse visual sources featured in Kaplan’s film and includes references to the histories of hip hop and chess. The central figure in the collateral, dancer Nicholas Gates, represents the king in chess, but also refers to two elements of hip hop: b-boying and graffiti. The custom-lettered adornment is influenced by Islamic calligraphic art, a nod to chess’ historical origins, as well as 1970s typography, an allusion to the decade in which hip hop emerged as a cultural force.
The WCHOF experienced record attendance for the opening reception of "Living Like Kings" with a line stretching down the block for entry into the galleries. Both chess and design publications, as well as local art enthusiasts and design professionals, have praised the custom-lettering and design for the exhibition. In addition, this exhibition has broadened the audience for the niche organization and raised awareness for its programming and innovative exhibitions.