I am a designer, lecturer, retired professor, and author of books on graphic design and typographic practice, theory, and philosophy. My clients, which include magazines and advertising agencies, professional associations and schools, are located across the U.S. and in several foreign countries.
All my books describe the core idea of “right thinking,” that is, making design decisions that are considered and defendable. Random design decisions are fine – they are sometimes even considered artistic – and we see them everywhere. But books that encourage you to do whatever you happen to feel like doing at the moment are not earning their keep. An author (and a teacher) should help a reader see through a different set of eyes. Having tried it, a reader (and a student) may choose not to see that way any longer, but they have been given a useful experience and information to make a meaningful choice. After all, what is more important than the way you think?
Five of my books remain in print, one has sold over 85,000 copies and that, at least numerically, qualifies it as a “standard.” My published books are:
- 2022 The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture, & Type 3rd Edition
- 2020 Editing by Design 4th Edition
- 2018 The Elements of Logo Design: Design Thinking, Branding, & Making Marks
- 2016 Listening to Type: Making Language Visible
- 2015 Advertising Design and Typography 2nd Edition
- 2011 The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture, & Type 2nd Edition
- 2008 Really Good Logos Explained
- 2006 Advertising Design and Typography 1st Edition
- 2004 Thinking in Type: The Practical Philosophy of Typography
- 2003 Editing by Design 3rd Edition, Jan V. White
- 2001 The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture, & Type1st Edition
- 1999 Type in Use 2nd Edition
- 1992 Type in Use 1st Edition
- 1987 How to Spec Type
- 1982 Editing by Design 2nd Edition, Jan V. White
- 1974 Editing by Design 1st Edition, Jan V. White
“I love to discuss design thinking. On the other hand, I’m not as moved with mere design liking because that puts design before function, and design is, above all else, a tool.”
Every message you send has to be sold by immediately revealing its importance to the reader. And that is what I help my clients and readers achieve. My approach to design is collaborative with my clients. The first and most important step I undertake is a diagnosis of the problem. We should be spending a significant portion of our time diagnosing or defining the real problem. When we finally get to a full and correct diagnosis, the design solution should reveal itself. In other words, a thorough diagnosis produces its own naturally-suggesting design solution. The diagnosis is codified in a bulleted job brief that describes the project’s requirements and defines the design purpose. It is a clear statement of what the problems are that are to be solved in the design development stage. A well-written job brief ensures my clients get a design they think represents their organization’s mis en scéne rather than something that I alone, as a consultant, “like.” This is the most efficient and satisfying process for all of us.
Teaching has been an essential activity for me: I retired as the Chairman of the graduate program in Design Management at the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design at the University of Bridgeport. I previously taught in a post-graduate program at Parsons the New School for Design and other design programs in the New York City area. I have served on the board of directors of several professional organizations including the Type Directors Club. I earned an MFA in Advertising Design from Syracuse University and a BFA in Graphic Design from Kent State University. I also attended Parsons School of Design, The School of Visual Arts, and The University of Illinois.