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.