SENIOR CURATOR OF CONTEMPORARY DESIGN
DIRECTOR, GRAPHIC DESIGN MFA PROGRAM
MARYLAND INSTITUTE COLLEGE OF ART
Ellen Lupton is Senior Curator of Contemporary Design at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City. Recent projects include “Graphic Design – Now in Production,” an exhibition on national tour through 2014, co-organized by Cooper-Hewitt and the Walker Art Center. Lupton also serves as director of the Graphic Design MFA Program at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art), where she has authored numerous books on design processes, including “Thinking with Type,” “Graphic Design Thinking,” and “Graphic Design: The New Basics.”
Where were you born and where do you live now? How does that affect your design sensibility?
I was born in Philadelphia and raised in Baltimore. I lived in New York City for fifteen years before returning to Baltimore as a home base. I still work part-time in New York, so I pass through my city of birth on a regular basis. The Eastern Seaboard is a connected string on wonderful cities. The density of the East Coast resembles parts of Europe, where urban centers are in close proximity. I love the dense mix of town scapes that connects Baltimore, the city where I live, to other cities that are a regular part of my life.
Who would you say is the most influential graphic designer of the past 50 years? How have they influenced your design?
Milton Glaser and Massimo Vignelli are two giants who occupy different poles on a spectrum. I have always admired Milton Glaser’s wit and his love of images and art; at the same time, I am drawn the systematic purity and typographic hard line that Vignelli represents.
What is your greatest strength and weakness as a designer or design manager?
My strength is to be able to seamlessly connect writing, editing, typography, and layout. As a writer, I’m able to control the format and presentation of my own work, and as a designer, I can fearlessly write copy and edit text to fit the context. On the weaker side, I’ve never been a visual inventor. I am more comfortable working within existing vocabularies rather than creating new ones.
Favorite TV Show?
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
Favorite Musician or Band?
Favorite Fine Artist?
Pinterest, Design Observer, New York Times
Talent You Wished You Possessed?
Mantra or Saying You Live By?
Early To Bed, Early to Rise