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Eric Gill


Known for the commercially successful and classic typefaces, Gills Sans and Perpetua, Eric Arthur Rowton Gill was also a successful sculptor, engraver, illustrator, and essayist. Gill was born Februrary 22, 1882 in Brighton, Sussex. He died November 17, 1940.

Artistic Pursuits:

After a stint as an apprentice to an architect, Gill attended the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London where he studied lettering under calligrapher Edward Johnston. Sometime after his marriage to Ethel Moore, Gill and his family moved to an artist's community in Ditchling, Sussex where he continued to expand his artistic endeavors to include sculpture, printing, and typography.

Type Designer:

In 1914 he met typographer Stanley Morison. By 1924 Gill was in Wales where he soon produced the Perpetua font for Morison and the Monotype Corporation, based on the classic Roman lettering of the Trajan column. Gill Sans followed in 1928. It was based on lettering by Edward Johnston who designed signage for the London Underground. Soon after he moved once again, this time to Pigotts outside London where he set up a printing press, Hague and Gill.
Published in 1931, An Essay on Typography combined Gill's views on typography with his personal view of morality, industrialism, creativity, and craftsmanship. In Gill's mind there is a distinct line between the work of the individual (fine craftsmanship) and the mechanized, assembly line work of the industrial age. The book is also of interest for the quirkiness of its typesetting, noted by many reviewers.
Among Gill's views on typography was his objection to fully-justified text. He felt that the even line lengths weren't enough to make up for the uneven word and character spacing necessary to create those matched up line lengths.

Beyond the Type:

In addition to his type designs and sculptures, Gill is known for his contributions to book design and illustration, most notably The Four Gospels which he illustrated beautifully. A deeply religious man, Gill nevertheless led a somewhat unconventional and alternative, often monastic lifestyle, including taking on many lovers and producing erotic engravings. However, he is still best remembered for his contributions to the arts and design.

Other typefaces by Eric Gill:

Golden Cockerell Roman, Solus, Joanna, Aries , Gill Floriated Capitals, Bunyan, Pilgrim, Jubilee.

Some of the sculpture of Eric Gill:

Stations of the Cross (Westminster Cathedral, London), Prospero and Ariel (Broadcasting House, London)

Eric Gill Quotes:

"There are now about as many different varieties of letters as there are different kinds of fools."

"Letters are things, not pictures of things."

"Lettering is a precise art and strictly subject to tradition. The New Art notion that you can make letters whatever shapes you like, is as foolish as the notion, if anyone has such a notion, that you can make houses any shapes you like. You can't, unless you live all by yourself on a desert island".

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