Born in 1949 in Prague, Czech Republic, Jan briefly studied Architecture in 1967-8. In 1968-9 he went to France and Switzerland, and upon returning to Prague he worked part time as a production/director assistant in the Czech TV. After a national service (1971–3) he worked in publishing as a desk editor/graphic designer.
Leaving Czechoslovakia for good in 1980, Jan arrived in Australia in 1981. For most of his career here he worked as a graphic designer, mainly in book publishing. He was also a sessional lecturer at the School of Art and Design, Monash University, Caulfield, Melbourne (formerly Chisholm Institute of Technology) in 1986–94 and 2004–8.
Fascinated by letterforms and type since his childhood (a school work experience in metal hand-typesetting probably the cause), since 2008 he concentrates mainly on typeface design. Rather than reviving or modifying existing types, he develops new typefaces from original geometries experimentally, combining deliberate design with accidental aesthetics.