Archive for category Subject: Eric Gill

Johnston & Gill – very British types || Mark Ovenden

I do like a nice bit of type and Edward Johnston and Eric Gill (the old goat!) are hard to beat. Both were proponents of an uncluttered style that was a departure from the fussy fonts that went before and it’s no accident that not only did they pave the way for the proliferation of architectural fonts around today, but that their own creations are still widely in use. London Underground uses a font designed for it by Johnston and the BBC’s logo is instantly recognisable not least because of the purity of Gill Sans. The index has lengthy entries for London Underground, London Transport and Frank Pick (“the test of the goodness of a thing is its fitness for use”), as it should.

Contemporaries, the two were friends and sometime collaborators and this entertaining and informative book recounts their personal stories as well as those behind the development of their letterforms.

Typography is not a static thing and refinements are a constant work in progress. To account for every detail would be incredibly dull, but Mark Ovenden manages to skip as little as possible while keeping the interest piqued. I don’t think you have to be a typomaniac to enjoy the book and there is plenty of personality as well as history here. Better still, there is a generous amount of illustrative material that is a veritable feast, as well as making immediate visual sense of the text.

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Eric Gill: The Sculpture || Judith Collins

Eric Gill is one of the best-known English sculptors and designers of the twentieth century and certainly one of the few typographers the general public might be able to name.

Gill’s work was characterised by a simplicity achieved in part by his practice of carving direct from the block, reviving a technique largely ignored since the middle ages, and also by sensuous quality of line which gives life to the human form represented in stone. It’s no accident that Gill’s private life was, shall we say, colourful; this ability isn’t something that can be applied in a vacuum.

This is the first complete survey of Gill’s figurative sculpture and is presented as an illustrated catalogue raisonné that should satisfy the most demanding reader or student and there is no reason why it should not stand for as long as the publisher feels able to keep it in print. It’s nice to see that the Herbert Press, started and run for many years by the late David Herbert, has fallen into good hands and continues its tradition of interesting and excellently produced books.

Herbert Press 2006

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