Jan Tschichold was born in Leipzig, Germany on April 2, 1902. He was raised in Germany as the son of a sign painter. Tschichold began working with typography at a very young age and was trained in calligraphy. This artisan background set him apart from other noted typographers of the time who had formal training in architecture or the fine arts. Tschichold worked closely with Paul Renner (the designer of the typeface Futura).
After the election of Hitler, all designers had to register with the Ministry of Culture, and all teaching posts were threatened for anyone who was sympathetic to Communism. Tschichold's emphasis on new typography and san-serif typefaces were deemed a threat to the cultural heritage of Germany and put him and his work in danger. Ten days after the Nazi's seized power in March 1933, Tschichold and his wife were arrested. Once released from jail, Tschichold fled to Switzerland in August of 1933.