“Otherwise Forget It”- Bob Gill

Click here to read Bob Gill’s “Otherwise Forget It” Manifesto

Bob Gill is an American Graphic Designer who attended Philadelphia Museum School of Art and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art before starting a freelance career in New York City.  For his Graphic Design work, Gill has won a number of awards, sold numerous illustrations and has illustrated children’s books and designed film titles.  In 1991 he was elected to the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, and the designers and the Art Directors of London have presented him with their lifetime achievement award.

I have only become familiar with Bob Gill since researching Manifestos.  I feel as though his manifesto isn’t as well-known as other artists, which is a shame because I particularly like it.  Gill’s manifesto concentrates on the problems that he perceives in design; however rather than bullet pointing intentions or giving clear and concise ideas of advice, which is what some manifestos do, Gill contemplates how designers should behave and think. I don’t find it demanding like some manifestos are, parts of the manifesto displays as a criticism, “otherwise forget it”, but some I see as advice, for example “Research the subject as if you know nothing about it”.

Like the “First Things First”and “Disrepresentation Now” manifestos, “Otherwise Forget it” explores ideas on graphic design in comparison to advertising.  Clearly this topic is something many designers feel passionate about.  Gill however isn’t being very opinionated on advertising, he merely makes comparisons as to how design has changed before new technology came around and how it’s used for “low–end commercial needs”, people are “prepared to pay well for their logos, newsletters, brochures and other business paper” “Without the vaguest idea how it produced”.

Otherwise Forget it I think is written very cleverly. I really like the way in which this manifesto has been written; it is different from other manifestos that I have looked at, it reads to seem more personal, and although he is critiquing and being quite opinionated, he is doing so in a way that is “playful”.   I like how the manifesto is written informal and read. The use of rhetorical questions allows you to see his thinking process throughout the development of ideas; it shows how they are contemplating the issues raised.  I think this helps his ideas come across in a way that aren’t forceful, and the way in which he has worded the manifesto makes it all seem rather playful, like an article that you want to carry on reading.

Otherwise Forget it seems to be one of the few manifestos that are enjoyable to read aloud, this is because it reads like an article! Gill’s use of punctuation choices, exclaim and question his ideas which makes it more interesting.  I find that anybody could read this manifesto and understand it whether having an interest in design or not.  The manifesto is more modern than previous ones I have seen.  This is due to references such as “Obama”, and “Kelly Clarkson” which allows the reader to relate to the examples he is making.  Also certain comparisons allow non-designers to understand the point in which Gill is trying to make, for example, “Designers who know their solution must consist of lots of white space, and a particular typeface, etc., before they know the problem, are just like the mathematician who knows that the answer is 128”.

Researching manifestos I have found to be rather beneficial.  It is interesting to see other designer’s concepts and thoughts on design.  Designers seem to be rather opinionated, which is good.  “First things first” by Ken Garland explores how mainstream advertising have saturated the design industry, becoming lazy and uncritical. The “Disrepresentation Now” by Experimental Jetset was similar to the views of Ken Garland, however they saw “no structural difference between social, cultural and commercial graphic design”.  Finally, “Otherwise Forget It” by Bob Gill represents his views of design in that “good design is what communicates best in an original way” “No image or color or typeface is always good or always bad. What makes it good is if it’s the best image or color or typeface that says exactly what you want to say.” Meaning that it doesn’t particularly matter how something looks as long as it’s original and says what you want to say.

This manifesto will be used as inspiration for my own, because I think the way it is written is very effective, personal but still opinionative in getting through the message.