Zuzana Licko was born in 1961 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, and emigrated with her parents to the U. S. in 1968. She graduated with a degree in Graphic Communications from the University of California at Berkeley in 1984.
Together with her husband, Rudy VanderLans, Licko started the design company Emigre Graphics in 1984. The company became world renowned for its self-published magazine and type foundry, which were greatly inspired by the new technical possibilities offered by the introduction of the Macintosh computer. Licko and VanderLans became early adoptors of the new technology and they used the computer to experiment and create some of the very first typeface designs and digital page layouts causing great consternation within the realm of graphic design. Eventually, exposure of the typefaces in Emigre magazine resulted in demand for the fonts which lead to the creation of the Emigre Type foundry. This growing library of digital typefaces, both experimental and traditional, is currently the principal activity and mainstay of Emigre.
As a team, Emigre has been honored with numerous awards, including the 1994 Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design, and the 1998 Charles Nypels Award for excellence in the field of typography. Emigre is also a recipient of the 1997 American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal Award, its highest honors. In October 2010 the Emigre team was inducted as Honorary members of the Society of Typographic Arts, Chicago. Licko is also the recipient of an honorary Ph.D degree from the Rhode Island School of Design (2005).
In 2011, five digital typefaces from the Emigre Type Library were acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York for its design and architecture collection. Complete sets of Emigre magazine are in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Denver Art Museum; the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; the Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich; the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley; and many other institutions around the world.