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Jane Davis Doggett

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Jane Davis Doggett
Born(1929-11-04)November 4, 1929
DiedApril 10, 2023(2023-04-10) (aged 93)
EducationSophie Newcomb College, New Orleans, LA, 1952
Yale School of Graphic Design
Known forGraphic Design, Wayfinding

Jane Davis Doggett (November 4, 1929 – April 10, 2023) was an American graphic artist and pioneer designer of wayfinding and graphics systems for airports.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Jane Davis Doggett was born on November 4, 1929, in Morristown, Tennessee, to Annie Kate (née Weesner) a homemaker and piano player and Robert Doggett, a paving contractor, asphalt wholesaler and horse breeder.[2] Doggett grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. She graduated from Sophie Newcomb College (Tulane University, New Orleans, LA) in 1952[3] and Yale University School of Art and Architecture in 1956 with an MFA in graphics, where she worked under noted colorist Josef Albers, who had recently been appointed Head of Yale's Graphic Design department. "As an early student of Josef Albers, she took his famed Interaction of Color course and absorbed Albers’ inspired principles of color perception while establishing her own strong artistic identity."[4]


Her first job after graduate school was with George Nelson, working on the anthropological part of the permanent exhibit at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. She then worked in Europe for the magazine Architectural Record, photographing architects and engineers and their work.

Her first airport design job was for the Memphis airport in 1959. The project's architect Roy Harrover knew Doggett from both Nashville and Yale and brought her in to do the graphics. Her first innovation was the development of a standardized font for use throughout the airport. This font became Doggett's trademarked “Alphabet A” and was used in many subsequent airport projects, since it was very readable over long distances.[5]

Additional airport projects included Tampa International, George Bush-Houston, Baltimore-Washington, Newark, Miami, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, and Cleveland-Hopkins among others.

As of 2014, Doggett had designed the wayfinding systems for 40 major airport projects,[6] which is said to be “more than any other designer in the world.”[7] Each year, 20 million airplane passengers are guided by her way-finding signage and graphics.[8]

Airport Wayfinding Signage Example

Wayfinding systems[edit]

Doggett is credited with four innovations that are now commonly employed in airports and other large public spaces:

  • Use of color,[9] letter, and symbol[8] to guide visitors through large unfamiliar places.
  • Designs that begin on highways outside the structure, simplifying and making the wayfinding process safer for drivers[10] or other travelers while also reducing the number of signs needed. Doggett's system eliminated two-thirds of the highway signs that had originally been proposed for the Tampa airport.[9]
  • Building the verbal or symbolic message into the architecture rather than tacking it on as a sign.
  • Creating a visual symbol to brand the airport and represent it as a gateway to the surrounding region.[5]

Further design work[edit]

Other notable graphics and design projects that she has worked on include Madison Square Garden, the Philadelphia subway system,[9] the Whitney Museum of American Art, Niagara Falls International Convention Center, Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in Houston, and Fairfax Hospital in Virginia. Doggett's designs have been awarded the American Institute of Architects’ National Award of Merit, the Progressive Architecture Design Award,[3] American Iron and Steel Institute's Design in Steel Citation, and two Design Awards co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Endowment for the Arts.[citation needed]

In her fine art work since 2007, Doggett developed the concept of the Iconochrome, which she described as “geometric designs in colors expressing philosophically profound messages.”[6] She has also described an Iconochrome as a colorful image or “Icon, an image with meaning, plus chrome, color.”[11] Her work has been exhibited at the Yale University Art Gallery;[6][12][13] Tennessee State Museum, Nashville; Armory Art Center, West Palm Beach, FL; Tampa International Airport; Lighthouse Art Center, Tequesta, FL; Northern Trust, North Palm Beach, FL; Maritime and Classic Boat Museum, Jensen Beach, FL; Chapter Two, Corea, ME; College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME;[14] Littlefield Gallery, Winter Harbor, ME;[8] Elliott Museum, Stuart, FL.[15][16]

Later life and death[edit]

Doggett was cared for by her nephew in her later years. She died in Sun City Center, Florida, on April 20, 2023, at the age of 93.[2]


Doggett, J. D. (2007). Talking Graphics: A Book of Iconochrome Images. Exartis Publishers.


  1. ^ "Jane Davis Doggett". Florida Department of State. Division of Cultural Affairs. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Genzlinger, Neil (April 27, 2023). "Jane Davis Doggett, Who Helped People Find Their Way, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Outstanding Alumna Jane Davis Doggett: graphics design pioneer" (PDF). p. 4. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  4. ^ "2018 SEGD Fellow and Achievement Award Winners Announced: Jane Davis Doggett". Washington, DC: Society for Experiential Graphic Design. 2018.
  5. ^ a b Turner, Tracy; Knapp, Pat Matson (2013). "Jane Davis Doggett, Environmental Graphics Pioneer". Experiential Graphics Magazine. 5.
  6. ^ a b c Yale Art Gallery. "Jane Davis Doggett Talking Graphics".
  7. ^ Elliott Museum. "Albers and Heirs Exhibit".
  8. ^ a b c Weaver, Jacqueline (September 26, 2013). "Taming Chaos: Corea Artist Pioneered Nation's Airport Graphics". Ellsworth American, Ellsworth, ME. Section III, Page 5. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Conniff, James C. G. (March 30, 1975). "Danger: Signs Ahead". New York Times Magazine. p. 36.
  10. ^ Knapp, Pat Matson; Turner, Tracy (2013). "Jane Davis Doggett: Environmental Graphics Pioneer". Eg Experiential Graphics Magazine (7): 50. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  11. ^ Jones, MiChelle (October 4, 2009). "Artist Interprets Proverbs through Talking Graphics". The Tennessean (Sunday Arts and Entertainment section, Nashville, TN).
  12. ^ "Special Installation Showcases Unique "Visual Language" Depicting Timeless Philosophical Messages". Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  13. ^ "YUAG features signs as art". Yale Daily News. January 26, 2010. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  14. ^ Gold, Donna. "Doggett's Bold Graphics". Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  15. ^ "Josef Albers and Heirs exhibit on view at The Elliott Museum in Florida". Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  16. ^ "Elliott Museum presents 'Albers & Heirs: Josef Albers, Neil Welliver, and Jane Davis Doggett'". Martin County Times. Martincountytimes.com. November 9, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2014.