‘Though an angel should write, / still ’tis devils must print.’— Thomas Moore (1779–1852)
A ROGUES' GALLERY
OF THE CANADIAN BOOK AND PRINTING ARTS
John Gibson, FGDC (1928--2011), started his career as an apprentice hand compositor in London, England. As part of that apprenticeship he became a student at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts and the London School of Printing.
In 1952, John emigrated to Canada and worked as a display compositor at the Calgary Herald. In 1956, while working at Howarth & Smith in Toronto as a graphic designer, John became the first secretary of the Society of Typographic Designers of Canada (TDC). The TDC had been formed by Gibson, Frank Davies, Frank Newfeld, and Leslie (Sam) Smart, all fairly new immigrants from England, with the intention of promoting good typographic practice. From that group of four the Society grew rapidly, and in 1959, John initiated the Montreal chapter of the TDC while opening the Cooper & Beatty office in that city.
Continuing his involvement in the TDC after returning to Toronto in 1964, John co-directed the Typography '64 exhibit, co-directed the Graphicanada exhibit for a New York showing, and was elected president of the TDC (Toronto) in 1967. After a brief stint in New York as director of typography at Young & Rubincam, John returned to Toronto for good in 1971. In 1976, he was elected national president of the newly chartered Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC), and was elected a fellow of the GDC in 1987.
John lectured on graphic communications at Ryerson, initiated a print production course with the Institute of Canadian Advertising, and was honoured by the `John Gibson Scholarship Award' by the Advertising Agency Print Production Association. He spent the last fourteen years of his career as vice-president, graphic services, at MacLaren Advertising, one of Canada's largest agencies, retiring in 1993.
John Gibson made many valuable contributions to Canadian graphic design. In March 2011, he was honoured with the release of the Gibson typeface family of eight fonts, designed by Rod McDonald and available through Canada Type (www.canadatype.com). All proceeds from the sales of Gibson are being donated to the GDC Design Education Committee.
The Devil's Artisan would like to acknowledge the generous financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.