Rereading Bob Gill for the First Time
It is in no way hyperbolic to say that Bob Gill’s latest book, Bob Gill, So Far (Laurence King, $50), should be required reading in every design school. Additionally, it should have a place on all right-thinking designers’ bookshelves. In fact, the only argument against buying this work by one of America’s greatest graphic thinkers is that you may, in fact, already own several parts–if not all–of the book.
Let me back up. The monograph is something of a mega-collection of his previous writings. That much is immediately clear in the table of contents, a clever and charming illustration of a shelf of books, spines out, listing the titles and publishers of each of the books compiled here. Early on, we find his portfolio, a calendar for The New York Times, and various portraits. We continue to be awed by a keen insight into design problems and their solutions, and a mind that prizes elegance and wit above all else. Move through the chapters, and you are treated to excerpts from his classics Forget all the Rules…, Graphic Design Made Difficult, Words Into Pictures, and LogoMania, among others. Also included are his children’s books, Ups & Downs, The Green-Eyed Mouse, Parade, I Keep Changing, The Present, and Supposing. In a roundabout way, the cover image summarizes the contents: a big re(a)d book.
Even if you’ve already digested the work collected here, it is bracing to see it all together in one place, and the opening remarks—a treatise on contemporary design practices—and closing bio provide new food for thought on the designer’s life, philosophy, and work.
Yes, this is something of a greatest hits. But Gill has consistently proved himself, through a long and celebrated career, to be one of design’s great thinkers and doers. This book manages to provide a fresh perspective, and a worthy critique, from cover to cover to cover to cover . . .
UPDATE: We incorrectly reported that some of the books were self-published. Mr. Gill assures us they were not.
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