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Jessica Helfand

Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer and a former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Communications Arts and Eye magazines. A member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director's Hall of Fame, Helfand received her B.A. and her M.F.A. from Yale University where she has taught since 1994.

A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Communications Arts and Eye magazines, she has written for numerous national publications including  Aperture, Los Angeles Times Book Review and The New Republic. She is the author of Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media, and Visual Culture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001), Reinventing the Wheel (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002), and Scrapbooks: An American History (Yale University Press, 2008) which was named one of that year's best books by The New York Times. Appointed by the Postmaster General to the U.S Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee in 2006, she is a Life Fellow of the American Antiquarian Society, a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director's Hall of Fame. With William Drenttel, Ms. Helfand was the first-ever recipient of the Henry Wolf Residency at the American Academy in Rome. In the spring of 2013, she was awarded the AIGA Medal.

Contact Information:
jessica [at]

Posts by Jessica Helfand

OBSERVATORY: Logocentrism (08.14.14)
OBSERVATORY: A Day for Fathers (06.15.14)
OBLOG: Fast Thinking (04.08.14)
OBSERVER MEDIA: Jessica Helfand on Brevity (09.02.13)
OBSERVATORY: Our Shopping Lists, Our Selves (05.08.13)
OBLOG: When Less Was More (02.13.13)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Twelve (12.28.12)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Eleven (11.30.12)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Ten (10.25.12)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Nine (09.28.12)
OBSERVATORY: Bill Moggridge 1943-2012 (09.10.12)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Eight (08.29.12)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Seven (07.31.12)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Six (06.26.12)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Five (05.30.12)
OBLOG: Why Write About Graphic Design? (05.21.12)
OBLOG: Page One: Great Expectations (05.07.12)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Four (04.26.12)
OBLOG: The Russian Empire, Before Photoshop (04.17.12)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Three (03.31.12)
OBSERVATORY: Audrey Real Helfand: Designer Manquée (03.13.12)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter Two (02.29.12)
OBSERVATORY: Yoshiko Sato 1960-2012 (02.21.12)
OBSERVATORY: Ezra Winter Project: Chapter One (01.30.12)
OBSERVATORY: Late Summer Reading (08.26.11)
OBSERVATORY: On the Shoulders of Midgets: A Conversation About Reality TV (07.11.11)
OBSERVATORY: For Sale: The Earliest Modern Studio in America (07.06.11)
OBSERVATORY: The Look of Freedom (07.04.11)
OBSERVATORY: The Public Face of Disgrace (06.16.11)
OBSERVATORY: Meet Our Intern: Paul Rand! (06.03.11)
OBSERVATORY: Mothers Day Special: Baby, It’s You! (05.07.11)
OBSERVATORY: The Royal Tweet (04.29.11)
OBSERVATORY: New Lives for Old Paper (02.23.11)
OBSERVATORY: Penny Dreadfuls (02.14.11)
OBSERVATORY: The Little Savages (02.12.11)
OBSERVATORY: When Do We Call it Art? (01.27.11)
OBSERVATORY: Certificate of Approval (01.25.11)
OBSERVATORY: Does It Have To Be A Lightbulb? (01.20.11)
OBSERVATORY: Bring In Da Ponk! (01.19.11)
OBSERVATORY: You Never Go Down The Candy Aisle (01.18.11)
OBSERVATORY: Sweet Spot: Cake as Craft? (01.04.11)
OBSERVATORY: Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones but Print Can Never Hurt Me: A Letter to Fiona on First Reading "The End of Print" (12.20.10)
OBSERVATORY: Be Careful What You Wish For (12.15.10)
OBSERVATORY: Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman! (12.15.10)
OBSERVATORY: Oh, To Be An English, Um, Person! (12.02.10)
OBSERVATORY: Pretty Pictures, Bad Judgment (11.26.10)
OBSERVATORY: The Bantjes Covers (10.25.10)
OBSERVATORY: An Introduction to Graphic Design (10.11.10)
OBSERVATORY: AIGA Winterhouse Awards for Design Writing: 2010 Recipients (10.05.10)
OBSERVATORY: The Kindness of Strangers (09.16.10)
OBSERVATORY: Fat Chance (09.09.10)
OBSERVATORY: The Real Skinny on the Real Skinny (09.07.10)
OBSERVATORY: In the Palm of Your Hand: Dexterity Puzzles (08.23.10)
OBSERVATORY: Viva The Villain: A Review of Despicable Me (07.14.10)
OBSERVATORY: Happy Birthday, Steven Heller (07.07.10)
OBSERVATORY: The Next Great Graphic Designer (06.23.10)
OBSERVATORY: Rome’s MAXXI: Force Field as Field Space (06.01.10)
OBSERVATORY: Every Poem an Epitaph: The Protestant Cemetery in Rome (04.15.10)
OBSERVATORY: Prisoners of Logic (02.19.10)
CHANGE OBSERVER: Better Living Through Artistry (02.17.10)
OBSERVATORY: All Things Matter (10.27.09)
OBSERVATORY: A Stitch in Time: A Review of 9 (09.20.09)
OBSERVATORY: Significant Objects: Elvis Chocolate Tin (08.17.09)
OBSERVATORY: Can Graphic Design Make You Cry? (07.29.09)
OBSERVATORY: Open Letter to Design Students Everywhere (06.03.09)
OBSERVATORY: Land in Crisis: The Antelope Valley Story (04.14.09)
OBSERVATORY: What's The Story? (04.09.09)
OBSERVATORY: My Facebook, My Self (03.11.09)
OBSERVATORY: Cats and Their Designers (03.05.09)
OBSERVATORY: Ten Things That Need to be Redesigned (12.17.08)
OBSERVATORY: Graphic Design Spam (11.07.08)
OBSERVATORY: The Posters of Padua (10.02.08)
OBSERVATORY: Second in a Series: Completions (09.15.08)
OBSERVATORY: Biblionomatopoeia (08.19.08)
OBSERVATORY: First In A Series: Cartophily (08.07.08)
OBSERVATORY: Annals of Ephemera, Part III: Aging 2.0 (07.14.08)
OBSERVATORY: Reflections on the Ephemeral World, Part Two: Food (06.30.08)
OBSERVATORY: Reflections on The Ephemeral World, Part One: Ink (05.30.08)
OBSERVATORY: Iron Man: The Screen Behind the Screen (05.16.08)
OBSERVATORY: National Scrapbooking Day (05.03.08)
OBSERVATORY: Viewer Discretion Advised (03.21.08)
OBSERVATORY: Animal Magnetism (02.14.08)
OBSERVATORY: Woody Allen's Typography (01.31.08)
OBSERVATORY: Gone, Baby, Gone (Things, Part II) (01.30.08)
OBSERVATORY: Remembering Paul Rand (01.03.08)
OBSERVATORY: Things, Part I (12.03.07)
OBSERVATORY: Thanksgiving Day (11.21.07)
OBSERVATORY: Type Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry (11.07.07)
OBSERVATORY: Science and Design: The Next Wave (10.16.07)
OBSERVATORY: Stan Brakhage: Caught on Tape (10.01.07)
OBSERVATORY: Back To School (09.08.07)
OBSERVATORY: Awarelessness (09.04.07)
OBSERVATORY: Another Myth Brilliantly Debunked (08.23.07)
OBSERVATORY: Harry Potter and The Enchanted Letterforms (07.17.07)
OBSERVATORY: Cock-a-Doodle-Don't (07.10.07)
OBSERVATORY: Why Is This Font Different From All Other Fonts? (06.26.07)
OBSERVATORY: My Dirty Little Secret (05.28.07)
OBSERVATORY: Ad Reinhardt, Graphic Designer (05.17.07)
OBSERVATORY: The New Manifest Destiny (04.22.07)
OBSERVATORY: Annals of Ephemera: Town & Country Cookbook (03.26.07)
OBSERVATORY: Art Director Ken (03.14.07)
OBSERVATORY: Lost, O Lost (03.04.07)
OBSERVATORY: The Illusion of Certainty (02.19.07)
OBSERVATORY: I'm Not Ready to Make Nice (02.12.07)
OBSERVATORY: The Karaoke Effect (01.19.07)
OBSERVATORY: The Not-So-Golden Age of Zero Tolerance (12.15.06)
OBSERVATORY: How Hollywood Nailed The Half-Pipe (11.27.06)
OBSERVATORY: Into the Pink (11.17.06)
OBSERVATORY: What Makes A Good Poster? (11.08.06)
OBSERVATORY: My Cup Holder Runneth Over (10.22.06)
OBSERVATORY: Death 'N' Stuff (09.21.06)
OBSERVATORY: Annals of Small Town Life: The Logo Stops Here (09.04.06)
OBSERVATORY: The Ovalization of The American Mind (08.20.06)
OBSERVATORY: A Good Pan Is Hard To Find (07.28.06)
OBSERVATORY: The Global Curse of Comic Sans (07.20.06)
OBSERVATORY: The Right Stuff (07.07.06)
OBSERVATORY: Absolut Signage (07.03.06)
OBSERVATORY: Crafting All The Way To The Bank (06.29.06)
OBSERVATORY: "Oui, Oui, Oui" All The Way Home (06.01.06)
OBSERVATORY: Annals of Academia: The New Exoticism (05.22.06)
OBSERVATORY: Disaster Relief 101: No Door Hanger Left Behind (04.30.06)
OBSERVATORY: The Art of Thinking Through Making (04.21.06)
OBSERVATORY: The Propensity for Density (04.11.06)
OBSERVATORY: A Sequence in Time (04.04.06)
OBSERVATORY: Give Me Privacy or Give Me an ID Card (03.02.06)
OBSERVATORY: What We Talk About When We Talk About Design History (02.16.06)
OBSERVATORY: Separated at Birth: Method? Or Madness? (02.05.06)
OBSERVATORY: Freedom of Speech or Filching of Style? The New Law of Eminent Lo-Mein (02.02.06)
OBSERVATORY: The D Word (01.29.06)
OBSERVATORY: Civilian Typography: The Power and The Fury (01.08.06)
OBSERVATORY: Calling All Angels (12.24.05)
OBSERVATORY: Face Value (12.16.05)
OBSERVATORY: Cease and Design (12.01.05)
OBSERVATORY: On Considering the Source (11.03.05)
OBSERVATORY: The Shock Of The Old: Rethinking Nostalgia (10.27.05)
OBSERVATORY: On Citizenship and Humanity: An Appeal for Design Reform (10.06.05)
OBSERVER MEDIA: John Stossel on Graphic Design (10.01.05)
OBSERVATORY: Eye of the Storm (09.01.05)
OBSERVATORY: A Mosaic of Vision and Memory (08.12.05)
OBSERVATORY: Why Bugs Don't Belong on TV (07.31.05)
OBSERVATORY: New Models for Design Efficiency: Introducing Otto (07.08.05)
OBSERVATORY: The Adventures of Cynic Boy and Design Mom in 3D (06.22.05)
OBSERVATORY: The Cut: When Life Imitates Art (I Mean Design) (06.10.05)
OBSERVATORY: Method Designing: The Paradox of Modern Design Education (05.23.05)
OBSERVATORY: Greer Allen: In Memoriam (04.28.05)
OBSERVATORY: Extremely Young and Incredibly Everywhere: The Public Art of Jonathan Safran Foer (04.21.05)
OBSERVATORY: The Design Police (03.24.05)
OBSERVATORY: Scrapbooking: The New Paste-Up (03.17.05)
OBSERVATORY: Our Bodies, Our Fonts (02.21.05)
OBSERVATORY: My Friend Flickr (02.18.05)
OBSERVATORY: The New Paper Chase: Cyberspace on The Auction Block (02.16.05)
OBSERVATORY: All Rise! (01.31.05)
OBSERVATORY: Paris Dispatch: A Long Way Down (01.23.05)
OBSERVATORY: A Blog Poem, Part II (12.31.04)
OBSERVATORY: Code (PMS) Blue (12.23.04)
OBSERVATORY: Time, Space and The Microsoft Colonialists (12.03.04)
OBSERVATORY: Donald Trump, Art Director: Not The Real Thing (11.29.04)
OBSERVATORY: The Designibles (11.15.04)
OBSERVATORY: Am I Blue (11.03.04)
OBSERVATORY: The Rodneydangerfieldization of Graphic Design: Part I (10.08.04)
OBSERVATORY: Gentlemen Prefer Blogs (09.24.04)
OBSERVATORY: Magazine Without a Name, Brand Without a Promise (09.13.04)
OBSERVATORY: Under The Microscope (09.09.04)
OBSERVATORY: Ladislav Sutnar: Mechanical Beauty (08.10.04)
OBSERVATORY: An Instrument of Sufficiently Lucid Cogitation (08.05.04)
OBSERVATORY: Graphic Design: The Movie (07.21.04)
OBSERVATORY: Design Gone Mad (07.16.04)
OBSERVATORY: Ask Not What Your Typeface Can Do For You: Ask What You Can Do For Your Typeface (07.08.04)
OBSERVATORY: Take Two Logos and Call Me in the Morning (07.01.04)
OBSERVATORY: Designer by Day, Catwoman by Night (06.11.04)
OBSERVATORY: Annals of Academia, Part II: Graphic Design and The New Optimism (05.20.04)
OBSERVATORY: Annals of Academia, Part I: What I Didn't Learn In Graduate School (05.12.04)
OBSERVATORY: Time Waits for No Fan (05.01.04)
OBSERVATORY: One Person, One Vote, One MRI? (04.20.04)
OBSERVATORY: Graphic Flanerie (04.15.04)
OBSERVATORY: The Lying Game (04.01.04)
OBSERVATORY: Annals of Typographic Oddity No. 2: Spaceship Gothic (03.26.04)
OBSERVATORY: Blanket Statements (03.16.04)
OBSERVATORY: The DNA of AND: Ampersand as Myth and Metaphor (03.12.04)
OBSERVATORY: Annals of Typographic Oddity: Mourning Becomes Helvetica (03.09.04)
OBSERVATORY: Regarding the Photography of Others (03.05.04)
OBSERVATORY: The Crisis of Intent (02.24.04)
OBSERVATORY: You're Going to Hollywood, Baby (02.03.04)
OBSERVATORY: The Span of Casual Vision (01.13.04)
OBSERVATORY: Mind the Light, Light the Mind (01.02.04)
OBSERVATORY: A Blog Poem, Part I (12.16.03)
OBSERVATORY: Sign Language: Endangered Species or Utopian Uprising? (12.05.03)
OBSERVATORY: On Visual Empathy (11.22.03)
OBSERVATORY: Implausible Fictions (11.12.03)
OBSERVATORY: Color Me Kurt (11.03.03)
OBSERVATORY: Fatal Grandeur (10.30.03)
OBSERVATORY: Culture Is Not Always Popular (10.28.03)
OBSERVATORY: Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician I (09.26.03)
OBSERVATORY: The Art of Elegant Abstraction (09.10.03)
OBSERVATORY: The Real Declaration (09.06.03)