Imaginary Interview – Menna Hafez

The chosen graphic designer for the interview is Ellen Lupton

It is important to give a brief history of Ellen Lupton as a graphic designer. Lupton is one of the few female designers not only in America but worldwide. This is because this profession is dominated by males as compared to the female gender. Apart from being a Graphic Design MFA program director of at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, she also works in the National Design Museum as curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt (Ellen, 2010). She was born in 1963 in Pennsylvania but grew up in Baltimore MD. She is a twin sister to Julia whose life has not been published as much as Ellen’s She has published several books of graphic designs in different spheres for a variety of audiences due to her love for typography and art. Below is an excerpt from an interview that I carried out with her:


Question: Who is Ellen Lupton as an individual and in the context of graphic design?

Answer: I am many persons in one being. First I am a mother of two lovely sons, Ruby and Jay; secondly, a wife to Mr. Abbot Miller; thirdly I am a sister to one and only twin sister called Dr. Julia who we have collaborated with in design work and have written few books together such as Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things and D.I.Y Kids, just to mention the two.

Within the context of graphic design, my hands are full because apart from being a graphic designer, I am also a director and curator by equal measure and most importantly a writer. I have personally authored more than ten books and co-authored several excluding the peer review ones which I have done many times.

Question: I know you have been involved in many graphic design projects. Would you pinpoint one of your memorable projects by giving the facts how you commissioned this project?

Answer: I do not want to give an impression that I take a specialty in my different projects. I must mention that I do treat and value all my projects in equal measure. However, because you have asked about only one I would like to mention the one I did in 2006 which was about the Triennial. It was titled “Design Life Now.” The reason why I take this project with the exception is the fact that it was purposely designed to catapult the graphic design to the modern life. It was an eye-opener to the social media as it included some populist forms of new social media such as the open-source software, blogs, and D.I.Y magazines (Ellen, 2010). All these were designed to make design literacy part of the mainstream culture, thus helping to put my own desire and design in the public domain. To affirm this point, I need to point out that I am an avid blogger just for the purpose of constructively engaging the public on matters graphic design. I am much active on two blogs: and These are two sites that constantly apply design to everyday life and are co-edited with my twin sister Julia.

Question: Thank you for that in-depth answer. Now, would you volunteer to us some of the restrictions and requirements that the project had to put in place?

Answer: Thank you also for asking such an important question. First, I want to make mention of Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore where I am the Graphic Design MFA program director. This is a special mention because, apart from the institution providing me with the graphic design lab that I have enjoyed working from, they availed to me some of the budding graphic designers who are still adventures and able to learn through taking academic risks. The project required such professionals in order to come to fruition. Another important requirement for the project were the resources (in terms of literature for research purposes and equipment; this was made available by the lab that we worked from). Secondly, when you talk of restriction, I may not be in a position to tell which restrictions you are inferring to; but I can tell you for a fact that I was restricted by the funds that were available to the project. We could only do as much as the point to which the funds allowed us. A caveat though, I am not lamenting of the scarcity of funds to cast the institution in a bad light. No, the institution has endeavored to ensure that it appropriates research funds accordingly and has been helpful to us only that the institution has several projects in different faculties that must also run.

Question: What were your intentions, viewpoint, and thoughts on this particular project?

Answer: You see, one of the notions that people have always held on to is that graphic design is a reserve for the chosen few: and that it should be within the realm of such people. But you realize that we are leaving in a global village and we must act like the same. Culture is dynamic and globalization makes it change in such a way that is terrific. Bringing graphic design to the social media was a way of reaching to everyone that values graphic design. Moreover, I think that it helped me to demystify this notion that it is only a reserve for the few. And I think the project helped in doing just that.

Question: How do you think your contribution as a graphic designer has impacted on your admirers and anybody that follows your work?

Answer: I am glad that I am not only a designer but also a curator too. Going by the nature of my work, I am glad that it has not only imparted knowledge to many but informed the general public because my graphic design work touches on different spheres of life.

Question: Lastly, How do you feel about the fact that you are one of the few females in this profession?

Answer: Awesome!!

Interviewer: Thank you for your time.