Gibson: A Typeface to Support Creativity

Gibson is a typeface that was designed to be educational but also work to support Canada's creative community.

About the Typeface

When Aaron Burns, the legendary American typographer, and incidentally, a friend of John Gibson, founded the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) in 1970 one of his primary goals was to combat the rampant typeface piracy at the time. Burn’s believed that the majority of designers were ethical people who would choose to use legal typefaces if only they could somehow be made aware of the extent of the problem. Designers and design students today would also choose to use legally licensed fonts if, a) they can see just how much this problem affects, and devalues, the larger world of graphic design and b) if the fonts are affordable. The Gibson typefacs is designed to help educate students about type but also help raise awareness of the problem of typeface piracy.

Gibson is designed to be a workhorse typeface to be used for both text and display. Its four weights, with matching italics, will cover most design applications. The design is based on two popular sans serifs; Futura, Paul Renner’s 1927 classic geometric sans, and Adrian Frutiger’s more humanist 1988 Avenir. These two typefaces, along with ITC Avant Garde Gothic and now Gotham and even Century Gothic, are universally popular with students and young designers. Unfortunately with the exception of Avenir the rest are not particularly good text faces, and even Avenir suffers from a degree of stiffness.

There is nothing inherently wrong with any of the above mentioned typefaces if properly used. And rather than bemoan the fact that students gravitate to these particular typefaces, we think it more fitting to provide an alternative design that will satisfy their need for a ‘simple’ and ‘clean’ sans while allowing them to produce work that can actually be read.

About the Fonts

The fonts are OpenType format with character support for all Eastern European languages. GDC members will be pleased to know that the Design Currency symbol (D=) is also included in each font. This is the first time the D= glyph has been incorporated in a typeface family. For non-designers the fonts have been cross-linked so that in office applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel the semibolds will become the bolds of the light styles. In graphic applications such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop, the font menu will show the name Gibson and the various weights will appear under the family name in the menu.

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Proceeds from the sale of Gibson are being donated by Canada Type to fund typography education in Canada.

Licencing Gibson

The Gibson family is available through Canada Type and popular distributors for $48 for the full family of eight faces.

This low price makes Gibson cheaper than many design textbooks and it can be argued that most students will get more use from the fonts than a book. Students who purchase the fonts from Canada Type will receive a full professional typeface family. 

The Gibson font family hits the right spot for many people and on many levels. It is a humanist sans serif typeface designed by eminent Canadian type designer Rod McDonald R.G.D., CGD, FGDC, and produced by Patrick Griffin and Kevin King of Canada Type, to honour John Gibson FGDC, Rod’s long-time friend and one of the original founders of the GDC.

As well as paying tribute to John Gibson’s productive life and love of the creative arts, the Gibson family is intended to be a mainstay of the future of Canadian design education. Many Canadian schools and institutions will be making it part of their larger typeface piracy education programs.

About John Gibson FGDC

John Gibson FGDC was a highly respected typographer who in his long career has worked in many areas of the graphic arts, from book design to advertising. He was also largely responsible for elevating the field of advertising print production (before the PC) to the level of a profession in Canada. At one time the highest award you could receive was the annual John Gibson Print Production award. Although many graphic designers in Canada are not aware of John’s distinguished career in print production it’s equally safe to say most print production people know little of his accomplishments in graphic design, especially his role as one of the founders of the GDC. For more about his acheivements click here.

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