Fri . 18 Dec 2018

Ellen Lupton

ellen lupton thinking with type, ellen lupton
Ellen Lupton born 1963 is a graphic designer, writer, curator, and educator Well known for her fascination and study within typography, Lupton decided to expand her love for design and took on the graphic design world Lupton is the curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City and is the director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art MICA in Baltimore


  • 1 Early career
  • 2 Type and the Bauhaus
  • 3 DIY method
  • 4 Personal life
  • 5 Exhibitions by Lupton
  • 6 Books
  • 7 Books published by Lupton
  • 8 See also
  • 9 References
  • 10 External links

Early careeredit

She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania In 1981, Lupton started out as an art major at Cooper Union College During the 1980s, design, in particular digital design, wasn't as popular as it is today To Lupton, the visual art of writing was an inspiration to a self-professed art girl who came from a family of English teachers1 When Lupton graduated from college, she was offered a position at the Cooper Union Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography, which preserves design history2 By accepting this position, she was able to take her love of typography, writing, and design and combine them all together While working at the Herb Lubalin Study Center, Lupton was also able to put her creations on display for the public to see These exhibitions provided another arena in which objects, images and text functioned as both the method of communication and the subject of inquiry

In 1997, Lupton was invited to become the digital design director of the Master of Fine Arts program at the Maryland Institute College of Art Lupton enjoyed being back in her hometown of Baltimore3 Here, Lupton was able to become a do it yourself curator and build a reputation within the writing field With this experience, Lupton was able to further her knowledge in exhibitions Each exhibition that she has worked on has been accompanied by a sturdy and ambitious public interest3

Lupton also began writing many hands on books about the design world In 1996, Lupton co-wrote a book with the Cooper- Hewitt Museum entitled Mixed Message: graphic design in contemporary culture This book focused on the revolutionary changes that graphic design went through in the early 1980s to the late 1990s It also spoke about how the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in particular was able to focus on the changes and accept them within the design world Lupton also went on to write

  • Design Writing Research: writing on graphic design,
  • Skin: Surface, Substance and Design,
  • DIY: Design it Yourself,
  • Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students,

and many more books regarding design Lupton has described typefaces as "the air we breathe, the water we drink and the pot we smoke"4

Type and the Bauhausedit

Lupton primarily bases her designs on typography and implements type on a communicative level Not only is lettering used to describe everyday things to us, or to help us communicate, but it is also there to be a creative tool for writers, artists, illustrators, and graphic designers5 Regardless of the type of design some texts may have, text is everywhere It is a medium and a message to the senders and receivers

In order to create new typefaces and new designs in regards to type, it is important to date back to when type became an organized framework Lupton bases much of her creation of type on The Bauhaus design techniques In the 1920s, the Bauhaus was opened to explore to as a universal, perceptually based on language of vision As Lupton states in her book Graphic Design: the new basics the Bauhaus and other schools analyzed form in terms of basic geometric elements Many designers, including Lupton herself, followed much of what the Bauhaus taught Some the designers also got involved in the postmodern rejection of universal communication and interaction Postmodernism late became a dominant ideology in the 1980s and 1990s6 Regardless of what the Bauhaus says about the technical side of signing typography, it is truly the designers tasks to produce a work that the general art world could appreciate and understand Lupton has proven this time and time again with her works on helping the public to understand how simple the design world can be; her DIY book

DIY methodedit

After Lupton graduated from college in 1985, her drive for changing the commercial art world took a change for the best Lupton graduated with a degree in typography and later sought to follow within the field of design “Graphic design was a revelation to me,” says Lupton “Design really wasn't in the mainstream back then It was esoteric It was the thing you did if you were very 'neat,' which I wasn't”7 With the booming interest in self-help books, Lupton co wrote the book titled DIY: Design It Yourself with graduate students from MICA This book showed ordinary people, a new way of designing their own, unique works From designing blog pages to creating your own book cover, Lupton breaks down the simplicity of the design world "People don't just eat food anymore, they present it; they don't look at pictures, they take them; they don't buy T-shirts, they sell them8

In the DIY: Design It Yourself book, Lupton links design with capitalism and the Marxist Theory In a Capitalist society, producers of goods are able to create their own unique materials and have them shared with the public for a profit DIY designers are able to rid the wave of capitalism while seeking out new counter-currents that carry their own imprint9 DIY is just like creating your own brand of T-shirts and selling them worldwide; your designing something based on your idea of art or fashion in this case

Personal lifeedit

Lupton is married to J Abbott Miller, a partner in the New York office of the international design firm Pentagram They live in Baltimore with their children and dogs Jack and Kevin, who are both chihuahua-jack-russell mixes

Lupton also collaborates design work with her twin sister Julia Lupton Although Julia Lupton graduated with a PhD in Renaissance Studies, they were able to write a few books together; Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things and DIY kids DIY kids is a spin-off of Ellen Lupton's book DIY: Design it Yourself Although the different versions are directed towards different age groups, Ellen and Julia were able to create a do-it-yourself book for children to which the parents could become more involved with arts and crafts From using recycled goods to creating your own cartoon characters, the Lupton sisters cover the hands on aspects of being a kid

Exhibitions by Luptonedit

  • Graphic Design: Now in Production, October 22, 2011 – January 22, 2012 10

This major international exhibition explores how graphic design has broadened its reach dramatically over the past decade, expanding from a specialized profession to a widely deployed tool

  • Living World, May 2009-January 201011

This was done in regards to the Nature Conservancy Many different designers created their exhibition products from using materials from ten endangered landscapes

  • Skin Show, May–September, 200212

Brought artificial life into modern designed furniture, fashion, architecture, and media The exhibit mainly showed many different shapes and forms of household furniture

  • Mixing Messages, Fall, 1996/Winter 199713

This focused on cultural and technological changes within history in regards to typefaces

  • Letterhead Show, Spring 199614

Showed original letterheads and ephemera by Herbert Bayer, László Moholy-Nagy, and Le Corbusier

  • Elaine L Cohen, February 7 – May 23, 199515

This exhibit focused on the groundbreaking designing books that were released by female design artists during the 1950s through the 60's

  • Mechanical Brides: Women and Machines from Home to Office, August 17, 1993 to January 2, 199416

Mechanical Brides was an exhibition centered on what was thought to be important feminine machines throughout the twentieth century The exhibit included washing machines, a telephone, an electric iron, and a typewriter Along with this exhibit, Lupton also designed the cover for the book Mechanical Brides: women and machines from home to office


  • Graphic Design: The New Basics, Revised and Second Edition Co-authored by Jennifer Cole Phillips, Princeton Architectural Press, 2015 ISBN 978-1616893323
  • Beautiful Users, Princeton Architectural Press, 2014 ISBN 978-1616892913
  • Type On Screen Design Briefs, Princeton Architectural Press, 2014 ISBN 978-1616891701
  • Graphic Design Thinking Design Briefs, Princeton Architectural Press, 2011 ISBN 978-1568989792
  • Thinking with Type, 2nd revised and expanded edition: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students, Princeton Architectural Press, 2010 ISBN 978-1568989693
  • Indie Publishing, Princeton Architectural Press ISBN 978-1-56898-760-6
  • Design Writing Research, Phaidon Press ISBN 978-0-7148-3851-9
  • DIY: Design It Yourself, Princeton Architectural Press, 2006 ISBN 978-1-56898-552-7
  • Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students, Princeton Architectural Press, 2004 ISBN 978-1-56898-448-3
  • Skin: Surface, Substance, Design, Princeton Architectural Press, 2002 ISBN 978-1-56898-711-8
  • Graphic Design: The New Basics Co-authored by Jennifer Cole Phillips, Princeton Architectural Press, 2008 ISBN 978-1-56898-770-5
  • DIY: Kids Co-authored by Julia Lupton, Princeton Architectural Press, 2007 ISBN 978-1-56898-707-1
  • Inside Design Now", Princeton Architectural Press, 2003 ISBN 978-1-56898-395-0
  • Mixing Messages, Princeton Architectural Press, 1996 ISBN 978-1-56898-099-7
  • The ABC's of Bauhaus, the Bauhaus and Design Theory, Princeton Architectural Press, 1991 ISBN 978-1-878271-42-6

Books published by Luptonedit

  • Sexy Librarian, Ellen Lupton/Slush Editions ISBN 978-06151767721

See alsoedit

  • Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
  • Maryland Institute College of Art
  • List of AIGA medalists
  • First Things First 2000 manifesto
  • Emigre 51: First Things First, 199917


  1. ^ Feo, Katherine "Ellen Lupton" AIGA Retrieved 22 November 2011 
  2. ^ "The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography" Retrieved 1 December 2011 
  3. ^ a b "Ellen Lupton: Design Writing Research: Lupton, Ellen 2007" Eluptoncom Retrieved 2009-09-09 
  4. ^ Weiss, Yoni "Quote Typenite talk, July 16 2015, Strand Bookstore, NY" Twitter Retrieved 1 August 2015 
  5. ^ Willen, Strals, Bruce, Nolen 2009 Lettering and Type: Creating Letters and Designing Typefaces New York, New York: Princeton Architectural Press pp VI ISBN 978-1-56898-765-1 
  6. ^ Lupton, Phillips, Ellen, Jennifer C 2008 Graphic Design: the new basics New York, New York: Princeton Architectural Press pp 8, 9 ISBN 978-1-56898-770-5 
  7. ^ Feo, Katherine "Ellen Lupton" Retrieved 6 December 2011 
  8. ^ Armstrong, Helen 2009 Graphic Design Theory: Readings From The Field New York, NY, USA: Princeton Architectural Press pp 110–137 ISBN 978-1-56898-772-9 
  9. ^ Lupton, Ellen 2006 DIY: Design it yourself New York, New York: Princeton Architectural Press p 25 ISBN 1-56898-552-5 
  10. ^ Blauvelt,, Andrew "Graphic Design: Now in Production" Walker Art Center Retrieved 26 April 2012 
  11. ^ Lupton, Ellen "Living World" Retrieved 1 December 2011 
  12. ^ Lupton, Ellen "Skin Show" Retrieved 6 December 2011 
  13. ^ Lupton, Ellen "Mixing Messages" Retrieved 6 December 2011 
  14. ^ Lupton, Ellen "Letterhead Show" Retrieved 1 December 2011 
  15. ^ Lupton, Ellen "Elaine L Cohen" Retrieved 6 December 2011 
  16. ^ Lupton, Ellen "Brides Show" Retrieved 6 December 2011 
  17. ^ "Back Issues: Emigre 51" Emigrecom Retrieved 2009-09-09 

External linksedit

  • Official Website
  • Design Your Life blog based on book Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things

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