3 ½ Questions with Mane Tatoulian

Mane Tatoulian travelled quite a distance to be here. The young Argentinian graphic designer, inspired by modernism and minimalism, is teaching an editorial design lab at TUMO Yerevan. We recently sat down with the calligraphy, illustration, and layout design enthusiast to ask her exactly 3 ½ questions. Here’s how it went!

Hey Mane, how did you decide to become a graphic designer?

My graphic design story started early on, back when my parents first moved to Argentina with only two suitcases. The Soviet Union had just collapsed, and aside from those two suitcases, my parents didn’t own anything else. Instead of buying me dolls, they would buy me notebooks, pens, pencils, and modelling clay. I wasn’t too happy about it then because while other girls were playing with dolls, I was drawing with my dad and perfecting my shadowing technique. I realize now what a valuable foundation that was for developing my imagination.

What do you think is the secret to success in your work?

Well, I’m a perfectionist. I think it’s probably because of my parents. They never told me “this is great!” about my work, and as a result, I always felt like there was room for improvement. Of course, that would always frustrate me and I now realize I’m sometimes excessively meticulous. It could be a positive thing to a certain extent. But when you can’t finish an assignment or even sleep at night, that’s a sign that you’ve lost your balance. One day, I decided that I had to draw the line at my health. When I feel like I’m harming my health by worrying too much, I send the work to be published and tell myself, “That’s enough, Mane. Just relax and don’t look at it anymore or else you’ll find new mistakes!”

How did your Armenian background and life in Argentina impact your taste, views, and personality?

My professional training and formal technique was developed in University in Argentina. But I most identified with the Swiss school of design. I was inspired by European designers like Massimo Vignelli, Armin Hofmann, and Josef Müller-Brockmann. I didn’t understand American design at all, for instance, Paula Scher or David Carson. Recently, when I sent friends back home photographs of Armenian cross-stones, home-made fruit juices, dolma and manti, my friends said they finally understood where I get my perfectionism from. As famous industrial designer Charles Eames once said, “design is in the details.” I think that’s the most important.

Fun fact about you?

When people in Armenia find out I was born and raised in Argentina, the next question always is “How do you speak Armenian so well?” At home, my parents always spoke Armenian. I did forget how to write in Armenian a little bit though. So I have a deal with my students at TUMO: While I teach them graphic design, they are teaching me where I should write “K” instead of “G” in Armenian, and vice versa.