Jan V. White: Designing for Magazines

Of his two hundred publications, Jan V. White published a couple very important books for designers and non-designers, which became key to understanding print design and publication. One of his most popular books, published in New York in 1988 by Watson-Guptill Publications, was “Graphic Design For The Electronic Age”. This piece was important for White because it aided in his goal of spreading knowledge to people all over the world, designers and non-designers. His book on graphic design was made accessible to everyone and was written clearly, with easy to follow graphs and charts. This two hundred and twenty-eight page guide was laid out in chapters, in order of White’s publication and design process from brainstorming a design; chapter 1, “think about what you are trying to say, then say it clearly”. This work is chalked full of examples, charts, and displays of appropriate design principles and applications.

Jan V. White “Graphic Design For The Electronic Age” Page 31, Published 1988

In this image, page thirty-one of “Graphic Design For The Electronic Age”, White uses text explanation as well as examples and charts to further illustrate his thoughts. This method, of pairing text and graphics allowed for his readers to easily follow along and could imagine what White was trying to say by observing the graphics in the book other than trying to picture it for themselves. White’s approach to publishing this book followed every step that he, himself writes about in his work. He uses page layout, text, and graphics to help the reader best understand his ideas and methods. This layout format is seen again in the image below of page fifty-four. White effectively uses graphics along with his text in order for his words to fully make sense and translate correctly to the multiple readers. This way, wether the reader was a designer or a non-designer, they could see exactly what White meant, rather than trying to interpret his ideas from text alone.

Jan V. White, “Graphic Design For The Electronic Age” Page 54, Published 1988


What is special about this work by White, is that it did not necessarily have a “client”. White went about his life creating things for the benefit of other people as a whole and without coercion. The piece itself is an innovation in design because it established the fundamental principles and methods of graphic design for the electronic age. With the creation of the internet just within reach, White was quick to guide his readers for the booming age of electronics that the 90s would become. This publication by Jan V. White represents a switch in time periods from print design to electronic design, which White was able to grasp and share with the world.