Will Burtin studied typography and design at the Cologne Werkschule. He practiced design successfully in Germany before emigrating to the US in 1938. He worked for the US Army Air Force designing graphics and exhibitions before becoming Art Director of Fortune magazine in 1945. His work for Fortune was marked by innovative solutions to presenting complex information in graphically understandable ways. In 1949 he established his own firm. Among his clients were the Upjohn Company, Union Carbide, Eastman Kodak and The Smithsonian Institution. Burti's great genius was in his ability to visualize complex scientific and technological information. He created several award winning exhibitions including the 1958 model of a human blood cell. He was awarded the AIGA medal in 1971. Burtin believed that through his work he could become the "communicator, link, interpreter and inspirer" who is able to make scientific knowledge comprehensible.