Nigerian graphic designer, fine artist and illustrator Ghariokwu Lemi occupies a unique position as the creative genius behind twenty-six of Fela‘s iconic album covers. Christened ‘The Artist’ by Kuti himself, the vivid social realism of Lemi’s works created between 1974 and 1993 provided a fitting visual accompaniment to the singer’s derisive anti-establishment lyrics with its cross of distorted collage, illustration and caricature.
Alan Fletcher / Colin Forbes / Bob Gill - Graphic Design: Visual Comparisons, 1963 (1969 reprint)
The vast majority of advertisements, posters, television commercials, booklets and other printed matter clutter our environment and insult our intelligence… And besides, they are so monumentally boring
American film poster design has a history of being dominated by agencies. “Two heads are better than one” the saying goes, and if you’ve ever caught a glimpse at the collective output of several different heads all working towards the same goal over a decent amount of time, well, it’s slightly unnerving. They’re often built to execute a single purpose: to create advertising specifically for film. And regardless of what you may say about the state of modern poster design, there’s more than enough work out there – both hanging in theatres and on an agency’s cutting room floor – to give pause at just how incredible their capabilities truly are.
Bob Gill is an American illustrator and graphic designer. With a career spanning decades, he’s written a multimedia musical for Broadway, designed for the UN, and, well, directed a porno. At 82, he lives in New York, gets around by bicycle, and can deliver a heck of a presentation when he’s not setting magazine covers on fire. But that’s now. While his key art strived for the same sensibilities, it wound up playing second fiddle to more conventional studio one-sheets, if used at all. To be clear, it’s not uncommon for there to be several cooks in the kitchen when it comes to putting together a poster: work changes hands if and when a person or team falls short of addressing the studio’s aims. Avenues are pursued but abandoned, sometimes in favor or something stronger, other times, something worse. What makes Bob Gill’s situation uncommon, beside him being the sole proprietor of his studio, is that he held on to and made readily available images and explanations of the work that didn’t make the cut.
“When you get a job – say an ad for a drycleaner – many images come to mind, we all have preconceptions. My suggestion is to forget every image that comes to mind, forget everything you know about drycleaning.”
“Instead of sitting at your computer, and looking at books, go to a drycleaner, and sit there. The way to get an interesting idea is to go to the source. Stay there until you have thought of something interesting about drycleaning. Then, listen to that idea and it will design itself.”
I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this, the second-to-last issue of PRINT magazine (sadly it will be joining the ranks of too many other smart, underappreciated publications soon). That Bob Gill would pay homage to Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam, depicting the symbolic beginning of life, so near the end of the magazine’s 73-year existence is more than a little ironic. Kudos to editor-in-chief Michael Silverberg and art director Ben King for all their hard work on the illustration issue and on the magazine in general. Read King’s lovely post about working with Gill on this cover.