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Quick Design History: Bob Gill #ThrowbackThursday


Bob Gill (b. 1931)

Bob Gill is a living legend of graphic design. An American illustrator, designer, filmmaker, writer and teacher, he’s packed many careers into one. He’s received the highest accolades from several Art Directors Clubs including the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the D&AD Association of London.

Plus, big news for Shillington. He’s popping in for a guest lecture next week to enlighten and inspire our students! We’re beyond excited.

Gill was born in New York and attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Art and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art before launching his career back in New York City. He began as an illustrator, creating work for children’s books, film titles, EsquireFortune, Seventeen, and many more publications.

“The best way way to get a visual image is not to think of a visual image.”

Gill began teaching at the ripe age of 25. He taught a night class at the School of Visual Arts, forcing students to focus on the idea, rather than layouts and executions. Gill continues to teach well into his 80s.

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His career took him to London during the early 1960s where he remained for 15 years. At first, Gill was an Art Director at Charles Hobson, but eventually quit to form Fletcher/Forbes/Gill with the legend that was Alan Fletcher and Colin Forbes. They kept busy with client work, writing a book that sold more than 100,000 copies, and enjoying the ‘Swinging 60s’. Over the years, this studio developed into what we now know as Pentagram.

Gill left this venture in 1967 and branched off on his own—teaching, freelancing, film-making and writing children’s books. During the 1970s Gill’s career took him in many directions. From designing a proposed ‘peace monument’ for Times Square, to collaborating on a Broadway musical to directing hardcore pornography!


Gill is an oft-quoted design legend who advocates for a no-nonsense approach to problem solving.

“I’ve never had a problem with a dumb client. There’s no such thing as a bad client. Part of our job is to do good work and get the client to accept it.”

I love Gill’s work because he continually pushes boundaries whilst embodying wit and personality.

We still can’t believe Bob Gill is guest lecturing at #shillony next week! Stay tuned for a full report.

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