Children’s charity stops using typeface designed by pedophile
The prominent charity Save the Children has announced that it would ditch its corporate Gill Sans typeface as it had been designed by a pedophile artist Eric Gill.
Gill was one of the most celebrated British artists, sculptors, and designers of the first half of 20th century, was an Associate of the Royal Academy of Arts, and named as a Royal Designer for Industry. He designed several war memorials and sculptures for some of the iconic buildings across the UK and also created, in 1928, one of the most popular typography fonts. However, almost 50 years after his death his personal reputation was ruined: a bombshell 1989 biography, supported by Gill’s own diaries, revealed sexual abuse of his daughters, sisters, and even a dog.
“Every child, everywhere, deserves to grow up safe and supported. Following a global branding review last year, we are moving away from using the Gill Sans font,” a spokesman for Save the Children said, as quoted by the British media, without getting into the details of the decision.
Though the charity’s 2016 guidelines provided for the continued use of Gill Sans font, Save the Children says that last year it had taken a decision to ditch the typeface. Since then, it had even found replacement fonts which, as the organization underlines, “align with our values” and are also free of charge.
“After months of research into fonts we could use across all formats, our new fonts, Oswald and Lato, will be rolled out this year,” Save the Children has announced.The charity’s decision follows ‘cancellation’ of Gill Sans by the BBC in October last year. The change was part of a wider makeover of the corporation’s logos and styles, prompted by an intention of the BBC chiefs to “modernize” audience experience across various platforms.
Ditching Gill’s font, the corporation, nevertheless, has so far resisted calls to remove Gill’s statue, Prospero and Ariel, from Broadcasting House’s facade. The petition demanding the removal of “the sculpture depicting a naked child, created by known pedophile Eric Gill” has received 2,762 signatures. Earlier this week the sculpture was defaced by a protester with a hammer.
Reacting to this incident and to the calls to remove the statue, the BBC said that, when the statue was commissioned, Ariel from Shakespeare’s The Tempest “was seen as an appropriate symbol for the new dawn of broadcasting.”
Underlining that “the BBC doesn’t condone the views or actions of Eric Gill,” and that discussions about “whether you can separate the work of an artist from the art itself” are a good thing, the corporation does not consider damaging the artwork as the right approach to a resolution of these problems.
This logic is likely to be shared by numerous companies that keep using Gill’s typeface. Based on Edward Johnston’s 1916 ‘Underground Alphabet,’ Gill Sans has been used, among others, by British Airways, Penguin Books, John Lewis and even by the Church of England. Gill’s typeface has also been a system font on Macs and in Microsoft Office.
The decision by Save the Children to get rid of the font has been criticized by many, with some social media users arguing that the typeface has nothing to do with the biography of its creator.
“Why have Save the Children only now in 2022 decided to take this step? It's 'woke' culture gone mad,” one of the commenters wrote on Twitter.