“Let’s say I got a logo to do for a dry cleaner. Instead of sitting in my studio looking through design books to get inspiration, surprise surprise, I thought it made sense to go to a dry cleaner and to sit there. I didn’t have a definite process that I went through. I just knew I should stay there until I had something interesting to say about dry cleaning. Just to sit there, to ask questions, to see what people were doing, to look at the back of the dry cleaner and so forth. And in the end you must be honest with yourself, I hoped I was honest with myself, if I had something genuinely interesting to say about dry cleaning I would listen to this statement and it would design itself.”

Listen to the full interview on the Design Observer website.
Another interview on It’s Nice That.
And related is his excellent design book, Bob Gill, so far.


When I was a student at Parsons School of Design many years ago, I was fortunate enough to have Bob Gill as my professor for Advertising Design.

My strongest memory of Parsons is of a day in his class when we were working on ads with a headline he had given us: “Any woman who would spend $29 on a pair of stockings needs to have her legs examined.” He was not pleased (to say the least) with our initial results. He chose me to scour the school for a girl with great legs and bring her back to model for the class. When I finally found a girl wearing a skirt, I explained (pleaded, begged) why I needed her to return to my class with me. She was skeptical, but willing. When we walked back into class, Bob’s first words were, “Is this the best you could do?” You can only imagine my embarrassment. Despite this, and the day he told us no one would receive a grade because it was “the school that had failed,” I learned more in his class than all my others combined (and Parsons had some noteworthy professors at the time). I still use what I learned there in my daily work. Despite his unorthodox and perhaps obnoxious methods, he was a great teacher.

Thank you, Mr. Gill, many years overdue.

Bob Gill is one of the biggest influences on my career. Every student of design should at least know about him. I got Bob and Alan and Colin to sign my business card a few years ago when they met for a ‘design discussion’. It’s one of my post prized possessions.

Wow, who knew what an impact a small paragraph can make. I would sit there forcing an idea by looking at other logos. This is a great way to do research, thanks for sharing David.

I hope to have time to listen the recording later. Getting to know a business for real is great, but working online makes this difficult. I like to have two steps in my research: first is offline (magazines, books, movies) and then online (google, wikipedia etc).

He was a big influence on my career too. Unlike any teacher before or since. Blunt and to the point. He would pull your work off the wall and toss it on the floor during class at Parsons. He taught you how to think and solve problems. “What’s that one thing that stands out, the thing that makes this product different?” He used to ride his bicycle to Parsons and around NYC to his clients. One of the best. Also long overdue… Thank You Mr Bob.

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