Eric Gill

Eric Gill (born Arthur Eric Rowton Gill) on February 22, 1882 in Brighton, England, was son to a non-conformist minister and raised in a cult. From 1899 to 1903, Gill apprenticed to an architect in London, he became smitten with the world of calligraphy or lettering. This was evoked through classes that he attended, given by Edward Johnston at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. He was profoundly influenced by Johnston’s dedicated approach to work and decided to join the world of the Arts and Crafts.

It is said that Gill, during his lifetime, set up three self-sufficient religious communities where, surrounded by his followers and attendants, he continued work as a sculptor, sign painter, wood-engraver and type designer. He also wrote constantly and prodigiously on his favourite topics; those being, social reform, the integration of the body and spirit, the evils of industrialisation, and the importance of the working man. In 1905–09, Gill produced initials and book covers for Insel publishers in Leipzig; and designed initials for the Ashedene Press in 1906. In 1907, he moved to Ditchling, Sussex, where he produced stone sculptures, including a few for the BBC building in London. He converted to Catholicism in 1913 and this influenced his sculpture and writings. While devout, he was known for his unusual sexual behaviour; suggested to be pedophilia and incest.

Eve_by_Eric_Gill Gill, Eve, Engraving, 1911

In 1914, Gill produced sculptures for the stations of the cross in Westminster Cathedral in London. He worked for the Golden Cockerell Press from 1925 to 1931, where he produced initials, illustrations and an exclusive text type. Having moved to Pigotts near High Wycombe in 1928, he worked at the London Underground’s administrative headquarters. Thereafter, he and his son-in-law founded their own hand-press, which printed luxury bibliophile editions. His work continued, as in 1930, Gill created illustrations for the last number of “The Fleuron” magazine, and was made a Royal Designer for Industry in 1936. Another of his well-known works is the stone tablets for the League of Nations building in Geneva, done in 1938.

1024px-Eric-Gill---Nude-woman-reclining-on-a-leopard-skin-(1928) Gill, Nude woman naked reclining on a leopard skin, Graphite drawing, 1928

He designed his first typeface, “Perpetua”, for Stanley Morison who had badgered him for years on this matter. Of all the eleven typefaces that he designed, “Gill Sans” is his most famous and most widely used; a clear modern type and became the letter of the railways – appearing on their signs, engine plates, and timetables. The typeface was strongly influenced by the London Transport lettering of his teacher Edward Johnston, was the first successful sans type based on the humanist models of the Renaissance. Gill’s best known type designs were produced by the Monotype Corporation, although he also designed type for private presses. Another of his designs is “Joanna”, named after his daughter. Gill died on November 17, 1940, and is noted as having described himself, on his gravestone, as a stone carver.

Works influenced/inspired by Gill

EricGill--GillSans-1926-Poster-by-DanielleBello-2014 Danielle Bello, Eric Gill Gill Sans 1926 Poster, Poster, 2014

396px-GillSansEG_svg Jim Hood, Specimen of the typeface Gill Sans, Typeface, date unknown


Eric Gill. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from

Eric Gill. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from

Font Designer – Eric Gill. Retrieved October 25, 2015, from


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