John Gibson FGDC
January 2, 1928 – July 23, 2011
On Saturday July 23, 2011 one of Canada’s design pioneers died in Toronto. He had been in ill health for a little over a year.
John Gibson started his career as an apprentice hand compositor in London, UK. 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 came to Canada as a display compositor with the Calgary Herald in Alberta. In 1956, while working with Howarth & Smith in Toronto as a graphic designer, John became the first secretary of the Society of Typographic Designers of Canada. In 1959 he initiated the Montréal group of the TDC when he opened the Cooper & Beatty office in that city.
Continuing his involvement in the Society after returning to Toronto in 1964, he co-directed the Typography’64 exhibit, co-directed with his good friend Sam Smart the Graphicanada exhibit for a New York showing, and was elected president of the TDC (Toronto) in 1967. After a stint in New York as Director of Typography with Young & Rubicam, John returned to Toronto in 1971. In 1976 he was elected National President of the newly chartered Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC). He was made a Fellow of the GDC in 1987.
John has lectured on graphic communication at Ryerson, initiated a print production course with the Institute of Canadian Advertising and has been honoured by the ‘John Gibson Scholarship Award’ by the Advertising Agency Print Production Association. John joined MacLaren:Lintas Advertising in 1979 as Vice-President Graphic Services. In 1983 he was one of the judges selected for TDC 30.
He retired in 1993. Throughout his long career John made many valuable contributions to Canadian graphic design.
In March 2011 the typeface Gibson was released in honour of John. All proceeds from the sale of Gibson go to the GDC Design Education Committee.
In lieu of flowers the family is asking people to either make a donation to the nursing home in Toronto (Chester Village) where John had been living for the last year, purchase the Gibson typeface, or make a donation directly to the GDC Education Fund which can be done here.
We would like to publish any memories or recollections of John on the GDC website. if you would like to contribute please send an email to .
— Rod McDonald, Lake Echo, Nova Scotia
Photo: John at his 80th birthday.
Additional comments submitted:
I first met John Gibson when I was working at the Design Unit at University of Toronto Press in the late seventies. At that time, many design and typography legends dropped by to visit with Laurie, Will, and Antje—and it was my good fortune to be introduced to some of them as they passed through. I never worked with John but will always remember and appreciate his phone call congratulating me on becoming an FGDC. A thoughtful gesture from one of the founders, those words were the warmest and kindest, and I will always be grateful.
— Helen Mah FGDC
- June 13, 2013Student scholarships explode!
- June 13, 2013A Celebration of Canadian Design Pioneers
- May 05, 2013Design leader, typographer extraordinaire & educator passes away.
- April 13, 2013World Communication Design Day April 27: how will you celebrate it?
- March 26, 2013Applied Arts is Canada's premier magazine of the communication arts.
- March 13, 2013New National Scholarships Announced for 2013
- February 27, 2013Application deadline April 15, 2013
- February 25, 2013Carl Dair (1912-1967) Typographic Designer
- February 19, 2013Don't miss the P22 Underground type sale for members!
- February 19, 2013Take a Digital Media Labour Market Survey.
- February 14, 2013University of Toronto responds to demand
- February 08, 2013Canadian typography mates with Canadian technology.
- December 17, 2012How many shopping days left?!?! Yikes!!!
- December 13, 2012Special eNews edition for all you Holiday Givers!
- November 23, 2012$15 for 16 cards!!! Holy Black Friday Batman!!!
- November 14, 2012Designers, designer cards, designer prizes, designer members, designer sales, designer ethics, all things designer.
- November 03, 2012GDC well represented in the Student Awards
- October 22, 2012Great cause, great prizes to be won!
- October 11, 2012
- October 10, 2012Historic news from across the country and around the globe.
- October 01, 2012Working together to raise awareness of the value of the certification of designers worldwide
- September 29, 2012Want to create the new identity & brand platform for Canada's national design association?
- September 25, 2012
- September 12, 2012Welcome back to school!
- August 08, 2012Acknowledgement for Lifetime Contributions to Design
- August 07, 2012...a significant step forward in unifying, refining and enhancing visual communications certification in Canada.
- August 07, 2012Tasty design news from across the country.
- July 16, 2012National Survey closes at midnight tonight
- July 01, 2012Vintage poem and Canadian letterpress typography to commemorate Canada Day.
- July 01, 2012Canada Type builds a legacy for Canadian typography students with a new GDC National Scholarship Fund
- June 15, 2012Calling all Canadian Creatives!
- June 15, 20122012 National Scholarship Recipients Announced
- May 30, 2012GDC@50 Poster Sale to Benefit GDC Foundation
- May 30, 2012GDC is proud to support this inaugural workshop organized by Rod McDonald FGDC and Patrick Griffin of Canada Type.
- May 23, 2012New National Executive & Fellows Announced
- May 07, 2012First election in memory to decide president.
- April 13, 2012Get ready to commemorate World Communication Design Day
- March 27, 2012BC Design Leader Loses Battle with Cancer
- March 20, 2012It must feel like spring somewhere out there...
- March 15, 2012Sales from font to support GDC design education programs.
- March 02, 2012Don’t let your certification inadvertently lapse.
- February 29, 2012Long time collaborative relationship formalized.
- February 20, 2012Sharing the love of design.
- February 20, 2012A Canadian icon who followed his own unique path and style.
- February 15, 2012GDC Foundation Announces the Ray Hrynkow Scholarship
- January 31, 2012January marks the launch of the GDC’s Annual Chapter Member Surveys
- January 25, 2012New Group Benefits Plan includes dental, medical, life, disability and critical illness insurance.
- January 16, 2012Deadline of January 20, 2012
- January 13, 2012All the news that is design-worthy!
- December 12, 2011Donate and your name will be entered to win!