A wood engraver, sculptor, typographer, and draughtsman, Arthur Eric Rowton Gill was born in Brighton. He studied in Chichester at the Theological College, and then at the Technical and Art School before moving to London and attending the Central School.
Gill’s early training there under the calligrapher and stonemason, Edward Johnston, is reflected within the purity and severity of his work; his forms lose all extraneous and superfluous detail in favour of a more austere and abstract method of representation, which has come to be recognised as neo-Byzantine and anti-naturalistic. An equal importance laid upon lettering and the compatibility of the engraving with any accompanying text is also indicative of his early pupillage.
Gill lived in Ditchling, Sussex 1907-24 and around him sprung up a community of artists. Gill’s Roman Catholic views were influential upon the community and in 1917 a religious order of artists was conceived, and in 1921 members of the community formed the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic (which exists today). Among the artists surrounding him at Ditchling were David Jones, Hagreen, Pepler, and Johnston. In 1924 he moved to Capel-y-ffin, near Hay-on Wye and over the next four years produced much of his best engraved work.
Gill’s often radical approaches set him apart from other contemporaneous engravers: he did not stick solely to the white-line method, nor was he afraid to experiment with the inclusion of large areas of white in his engravings through the cutting away of the equivalent areas from the block.
Gill never strayed far from the religious roots which inform his work. Eroticism also forms an important part of it. Gill was not afraid to combine these two elements. Among his many and varied achievements are the numerous books he designed, both type and illustration, The Canterbury Tales and The Four Gospels being among the greatest book productions between the Wars.
He held a number of teaching jobs, including gilding at the Central School and lettering at the LCC Paddington Institute. He was a founder member of the SWE and an associate of the RA. In 1937 he was awarded an honorary associateship of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.
Arthur Eric Rowton Gill (22 February 1882 – 17 November 1940) was a British sculptor, typeface designer, stonecutter and printmaker, who was associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. He is a controversial figure, with his well-known religious views and subject matter being seen as at odds with his sexual and paraphiliac behaviour and erotic art.
The original design appeared in 1926 when Douglas Cleverdon opened a bookshop in his home town of Bristol, where Eric Gill painted the fascia over the window in sans-serif capitals that would be later be known as Gill Sans. In addition, Gill had sketched a design for Cleverdon, intended as a guide for him to make future notices and announcements.
Gill further developed it into a complete font family after Stanley Morison commissioned the development of Gill Sans to combat the families of Erbar, Futura and Kabel which were being launched in Germany during the latter 1920s. Gill Sans was later released in 1928 by Monotype Corporation.Gill Sans became popular when in 1929 Cecil Dandridge commissioned Eric Gill to produce Gill Sans to be used on the London and North Eastern Railway for a unique typeface for all the LNER's posters and publicity material