Thursday, 24 September 2009

Off the shelf: Bob Gill

I have a link to Bob Gill in that I was taught by an ex-student of his, and also by his ex-wife, Bobby. He's probably therefore my strongest influence.
These slipper-carrying dogs come from a job he did for Pirelli in 1965 when he was based in London and a third of Fletcher, Forbes, Gill. They're scanned from the book, 'Forget All The Rules You Ever Learned About Graphic Design. Including The Ones In This Book,' published by Watson-Guptill in 1981. Its dedication reads:
'If this book helps only one
designer get only one original
idea, then all the months
I spent putting it together
will not have been worth it.'
The book was my bible for a while (at a time when graphic design was treated as part of the cosmetics industry). It was full of the kind of unexpectedness that snaps you (temporarily at least) out of automatic thinking patterns. Gill's idea was that if you ignore what you already know and focus exclusively on the problem you're working on, redefining it according to its unique attributes, you can't help but come up with a unique solution. He illustrates this with his own work.
These dogs have the caption:
Original problem:
Counter display for slippers.
What can hold a slipper and be fun to look at?
So you could call them a bad illustration of his 'method'. However, the idea is terrific and one of my favourites and, no matter how familiar to anyone who's ever flicked through a book on the history of graphic design, it's still worth seeing again.
There are a couple of interviews with Bob Gill here (Eye) and here (Graphis), and a biography here (Art Directors Club).


Julie Oakley said...

Bobby was my personal tutor - an experience which has made me very doubtful of the value of the tutorial system, as the direction she pushed me in was one which the Head of Department considered was a complete waste of a year.

nonstickplans said...

She was mine too, Julie. For three years.
I finally found my own direction in the last term of the last year. But she did encourage me to draw.

I don't know about wasting time - what's it for anyway?

Thanks for the comment.