Sussman took classes at the Art Students League and attended summer school at Black Mountain College in 1952. She studied acting and painting at Bard College in New New York In 1951 she attended the Institute of Design in Chicago where she earned a degree in graphic design, then run by Bauhaus painter and photographer László Moholy-Nagy.
Her work incorporated graphic design into architectural and public spaces. She went on to earn a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bard College in 1998. In 1953, Sussman began her career in the offices of Charles and Ray Eames, where she worked as an office designer.
She worked for approximately 10 years with the Eameses, and during the course of that decade, she worked as art director for the office, designing print materials, museum exhibits, films, and showrooms for furniture.
Sussman designed instructions for the card construction game House of Cards and traveled to Mexico to document folk culture for the Eameses" 1957 film Day of the Dead. In 1968, Sussman started her own practice.
Sussman and Prejza formed the firm Sussman/Prejza & Company in 1980 in Culiver City, California. They specialized in urban branding and designed the look and architectural landscape of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Los Angeles In 1983, Sussman helped found the American Institute of Graphic Arts chapter of Los Angeles with Saul Bass and others
In Stylepedia, authors Steven Heller and Louise Fili wrote that the graphical elements of that Olympics "epitomized a carnivalesque modernity" and placed the work in the Pacific branch of the New Wave design movement.
The firm also designed Hasbro"s New York facility, and has worked with the City of Santa Monica, the Museum of the African Diaspora, Disney World, and The company was later renamed Sussman-Prejza. Sussman was known for her bold and colorful work that includes an integration of typography in the environmental landscape.
In 2013 the WUHO Gallery hosted the first retrospective of Deborah Sussman"s early work, spanning her days at Eames Studio up to the 1984 Olympics.
Sussman died of breast cancer at the age of 83 on August 19, 2014.
Fellow Society Environmental Graphic Design. Member American Institute of Architects (honorary, Medal for XXIII Olympiad 2004), American Institute Graphic Arts (board directors 1982-1985, founder Los Angeles chapter, chairman 1983-1984, Legacy medal 2004), American Center Design (honorary), Los Angeles Art Directors Club (board directors, award), Alliance Graphique International, Architects, Designers, and Planners Social Responsibility, California Women in Environmental Design (advisory d.), Trusteeship (affiliate International Women's Forum, chairman's circuit Town Hall).
Married Paul Prejza, June 28, 1972.