Dr Elena Papassissa is a Senior Type Design, Typographer, Graphic Designer, Type consultant, scholar and educator based in London. She is particularly interested in promoting the Armenian script culture and heritage and as a type designer, she has specialist expertise in Armenian script. Since 2013 she has been running her own practice: she has been collaborating with international type foundries and type designers, and graphic design studios in London. Notable clients and collaborations include Monotype, Dalton Maag, Google, Tiro Typeworks, Jeffery Keedy, Fraser Muggeridge studio, and Polimekanos. In 2014–2015 she worked as a consultant at the Monotype archives in Salfords.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and Visual Communication and an MA in Communication and Design for Publishing from the ISIA Urbino, and an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading. She was awarded her PhD in Typography and Graphic Communication from the University of Reading in 2020. Her thesis title is: ‘Convention, traditionalism, Latinisation and modernity in Armenian typefaces across type-making technologies from 1512 to 1977’. Her PhD research was funded by (AHRC) Design Star.
She has experience teaching graphic design—theory and practice—in a studio environment (face-to-face and online) at undergraduate level. Since October 2018 she has been working as a Visiting Practitioner and Associate Lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts (UAL), teaching Type Design to first and second year BA students in Graphic Design. Since September 2020 she has been an Associate Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University (OBU), teaching Graphic Design (critical thinking: theory and practice—focusing on sustainability, ethics and social responsibility—type design, and interaction design) to second-year students. From February 2021 to June 2021 she was a Lecturer at the University of West London (UWL), teaching Typography at Level 4, as well as Professional Graphic Design Practice (including branding) at Level 5. Since September 2021 she has been working as a Lecturer in Graphic Design at Oxford Brookes University. She holds the ‘Preparing to Teach’ 2016/2017-core session’s Certificate of Attendance from the University of Reading and she has completed the first stage of the Explore@Brookes programme to obtain her Fellowship of the Higher Education.
Elena is a member of the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI) and the AGBU Young Professional (YP), a non-profit organisation involved in promoting worldwide the Armenian identity and heritage. In 2018 she was invited to participate in the Armenian Studies Group (ASG) in London. The ASG, scholars and researchers working within the field of Armenian Studies, meet every month to present and discuss papers, projects, etc.
Conferences, public engagement & Outreach
Type Director Club (25TDC) Competition – Typeface Design (February 2022). I was part of the expert panel for non-Latin typefaces (as an Armenian type design specialist)
Visiting Lecturer at UAL (December 2020). I was invited to talk about my practice to undergraduate students on the Graphic Design course at Camberwell College of Arts.
Future Graphic Language Warsaw (December 2019). Talk title: ‘Designing Armenian typefaces: Researching the past to inspire the present’.
HWDO (Hidden Women of Design). London (November 2017). Talk title: ‘Designing Armenian typefaces: Researching the past to inspire the present’.
ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale). Montréal (September 2017). Talk title: ‘Armenian typefaces as expression of national identity: the introduction of a newly fashioned Bolorgir typeface in the second half of the 19th century’.
Armenian workshop conducted at the MA Type Design course at the University of Reading, UK (May 2017)
TDI Type Design course at Reading University, UK (July 2014). Talk title: ‘Traditional versus Latinised approach to Armenian typeface design’.
ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale). Amsterdam (October 2013). Talk title: ‘The current state of Armenian typefaces’.
TDI Type Design course at the University of Reading, UK (July 2013). Talk title: ‘The current state of Armenian typefaces’.
ICTVC 5th International Conference on Typography and Visual Communication, University of Nicosia, Department of Design and Multimedia. Cyprus (June 2013). Talk title: ‘The current state of Armenian typefaces’.
Elena Papassissa. (2021) ‘Designing Armenian typefaces: Researching the past to inspire the present’. FGL – Future Graphic Language: New Directions in Verbal Communication. Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology, Warsaw, Poland, pp. 50–57. ISBN 978-83-66831-01-8.
Elena Papassissa. (2013) ‘The current state of Armenian typefaces’. Bardez/Partez: The bulletin of the Armenian Institute. The Armenian Institute, London, UK, (Special Issue), p. 14.
Elena Papassissa. (2012) Analisi Microtipografica sulla tipografia dei bugiardini, in AIAPZINE: International Design Observatory, Milano. Thesis, research, and studies section. On http://aiapzine.aiap.it/notizie/13260
(February 2021) ‘A Familiar System Font Goes Global with Monotype’s Avenir Next World’. Aiga–Eye on Design
(January 2021) ‘Monotype Introduces Avenir Next World: A Typeface for Global Brands to Design Consistently Beyond Borders’. Business Wire
(January 2021) ‘Monotype releases first update to Avenir in 20 years, expanding to 150 global scripts and languages’. It’s Nice That
(January 2021) ‘Avenir Next World builds on Adrian Frutiger’s legacy with a truly global typeface’. Creative Boom
(2018) Gerard Unger, Theory of Type Design. nai010, Rotterdam, pp. 70, 86.
(2017) ‘No more Tofu’. The Monotype Recorder (5/Summer). The Monotype Studio, London, UK, pp. 37–50.
(2010) ‘Urbino Servizi’. Fisianomia 2009. Quaderni Isia, Urbino, Italy (1 March 2010), corporate identity/4.
(2009) ‘Parola Macchina del pensiero’. Spaghetti Grafica 2. Mondadori Electa, Milan, Italy, pp. 318–319.
(2009) Illywords (27). Corraini, Mantova, Italy, p. 9. (2008) ‘Lekton font’. Italic 2.0. De Agostini, Novara, Italy, pp. 54–55.
2017 I was awarded a Short Term Grant for Armenian Studies by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to speak at ATypI conference (Montreal 2017).
2015 I was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Design Star for Doctoral Training Partnership studentship (DTP) (2015–2018) for my PhD research at the University of Reading.
–As a Type Designer–
Fraser Muggeridge Studio (UK)
Jeffery Keedy (USA)
Monotype (USA) (Germany) (UK)
–As a consultant–
Tiro Typeworks (Salish Sea, BC)
Dalton Maag (UK)
Monotype Archives in Salfords (UK)