Born in England, Simon Johnston was educated at Bath Academy of Art and at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel, Switzerland, where he studied with Armin Hofmann and Wolfgang Weingart. In London in the 1980s he co-founded the design studio 8vo and was instigator and co-editor of the typography journal Octavo.
Relocating to California, his current design practice, Simon Johnston Design, focuses on publications for galleries and museums. Clients include the Whitney Museum, Gagosian Gallery, Getty Museum, Steidl Verlag, Blum and Poe Gallery and Yale University Press. He has lectured in the US, Asia and Europe, and his work has received many awards and been exhibited internationally. He is a professor and Director of Print in the Graphic Design Department at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, teaching typography and design. He divides his time between education, book design, and his own art/photography practice.