In 1975, the tobacco company of Yerevan, Armenia, ran a citywide contest asking for a redesign of its cigarette packaging. Ashot Stepanyan was one of a few hundred artists/designers who entered. “He won!” his daughter, graphic designer Mariya Stepanyan, recently told me.
“My mother tells me while the tobacco was harvested and packed in Armenia, the packaging was produced in Germany and it was beautifully printed and embossed with gold foil trim. I think this packaging was used until the late 1980s.”
The artwork is the statue “David of Sassoun,” which stands in the middle of the town square in Yerevan (the capital of Armenia). David was the main hero of Armenia’s national epic Daredevils of Sassoun, who drove Arab invaders out of Armenia. The front of the pack is in Armenian and the back is in Russian. It reads, “YEREVAN.”
“This cigarette box is the second or third run print and not as impressive as the German printed ones,” Stepanyan said. “We unfortunately don’t have any of the original boxes.”
As Stepanyan recalled, “The committee called him on the day my little sister was born. He went downtown to pick up his cash prize and in his excitement placed the cash between his coat and jacket. By the time he got to the hospital, the cash was gone.”
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