Jessica Helfand received both her BA in graphic design and architectural theory in 1982 and her MFA in graphic design in 1989 from Yale University. With William Drenttel, she co-founded The Winterhouse Institute and Design Observer. She has written for many national publications, including the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Aperture and The New Republic.
She is the author of numerous books on design and cultural criticism, including Paul Rand: American Modernist (1998), Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media and Visual Culture (2001) and Reinventing the Wheel (2002), which formed the basis for an exhibit in 2004 at the Grolier Club in New York City. Her critically acclaimed Scrapbooks: An American History (Yale University Press, 2008) was named that year’s best visual book by the New York Times. Her most recent book, Design: The Invention of Desire, was published by Yale University Press in 2016. Ms. Helfand was appointed by the Postmaster General to the U.S. Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee in 2006, where she chaired the Design Subcommittee until 2012. She is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) and a 2011 laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. In 2010, she and William Drenttel were named the first Henry Wolf Residents in Design at the American Academy in Rome. In 2013, they each received the AIGA Medal. Helfand is also a Senior Critic in Graphic Design at the Yale School of Art, a Lecturer in Yale College, and the Artist in Residence at Yale's Institute for Network Science.