Skip to Main Content
theater surrounded by words on billboards that mean boring
Nappi Eliran. Poster, c. 1990.
December 11, 2023

Bob Gill Collection

We are so pleased to announce that the Bob Gill Collection, which came to us via a generous donation from Sara Fishko, is open for research. The Bob Gill Collection contains a variety of print work designed by Gill, plus some original art and production files. The Gill Collection also includes film, audio and video recordings which are not yet available for research.

Bob Gill was a legendary graphic design problem solver, devoted to the ethos that design is about communication, divorced from trendy styles. His work was notably witty and irreverent, often featuring visual puns.

Gill was born on January 17, 1931 in Brooklyn. As a child he studied piano with his mother, and as a teenager he spent his summers playing jazz piano at Catskills resorts. He attended the High School of Music and Art (now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts), the Philadelphia Museum School of Art (now the University of the Arts), and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. When he was drafted into the U.S. military in 1952 he worked as part of the design corps in Washington, D.C. He returned to New York in 1954 where worked as a freelance designer, illustrator, and instructor. His clients included Esquire, The Nation, Seventeen, Fortune, and Glamour.

Gill joined the faculty at SVA in 1956, very soon after the design department was established. He continued to teach at SVA and other institutions throughout his career. Gill also created two early subway posters for SVA; he memorably spoke about his work in a Subway Series Hall of Fame video in 2018.

Gill moved to London in 1960 where he worked for Charles W. Hobson Ltd. advertising agency. In 1962, he joined forces with Alan Fletcher and Colin Forbes to form Fletcher/Forbes/Gill. FFG would later become global design firm Pentagram. In 1967, Gill returned to freelance work; in addition to teaching, designing, and writing children’s books, he also produced, wrote, and directed industrial films. His first project as a newly freelance designer was the album cover for the Beatles’ Wonderwall on their record label Apple.

Gill returned to New York City in 1975. In the late 1970s, Gill and Robert Rabinowitz co-created the Broadway sensation Beatlemania, a multi-media celebration of the 1960s and the Beatles. Throughout his career, Gill designed and wrote books for designers and children. Gill passed away on November 9, 2021.

Bob Gill was elected to the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 1991 and was a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Designers and Art Directors Association of London.

We are so honored to offer a range of Gill's singular work, which was always witty, provocative, and human. Below are just a few samples from the collection.
Union jack box on black background
La Settimana Britannica a Milano. British Week Milan. Poster, 1965.
female circus performer in a frilly costume, male performer flying through the air behind her
Lotte Goslar's Pantomime Circus. Poster, 1954.
Chita Rivera and Liza Minelli in white and red profiles
The Rink. Poster, 1984.
painting tools covered with red paint and red type
Bourges advertisment, 1965.
Film tin filled with colorfully wrapped candies
Albert Koski and David Cammell and Hugh Hudson and Robert Brownjohn party invitation, c. 1969.
composition notebook that says in childlike handwriting "school was never like this!"
The Leaning Annex Annual Report, 1987.
Collaged photo of man turning two ways, each way he is with a different woman. Across the page another many places a hand on his forehead and watches in disbelief.
Film advertisement, 1989.
people in 1960s era clothing jumping in the air
Beatlemania. Poster, 1977.
one pair of unremarkable eyeglasses and another pair of checkerboard glasses with purple lenses
The Learning Annex. Poster, 1985.
Five hand drawn video cameras each representing a borough of New York City
NY1. Poster, 1993.
three women holding a trampoline while watching a man fall from above
Catch Me If I Fall. Poster, 1990.