March 28, 1931 – October 3, 2019
Philip Gips, the trailblazing graphic designer and advertising executive whose iconic posters for films such as Alien and Superman, as well as logos for brand names such as ESPN, defined an era, died Thursday in White Plains, New York. He was 88. The cause of death, according to his wife, Barbara Gips, was complications arising from kidney failure and pneumonia. During his career, Gips was the principal art director and creative vision of some of the most recognizable movie posters and corporate logos of the era, many of which remain cultural touchstones today. Among his best-known posters is the ad for Alien (1979), which depicts an egg cracking and emitting an eerie green glow as it hovers over an otherworldly topography. The poster is punctuated with the unforgettable tag line, “In space no one can hear you scream,” which was written by Phil’s wife, Barbara. The two would collaborate on many more film advertising campaigns. Beyond his entertainment work, Gips was a pioneering figure in typography, branding, and corporate logos. During the 1970s and 1980s, he designed annual reports for The New York Times. In his 50-year career he designed album covers for .38 Special and Quincy Jones and scores of advertising and promotional materials including print ads, media kits, presentations, mailers, signage, identity branding pieces, annual reports, and audio and video packaging. Among his illustrious list of clients was ASCAP, CBS-FOX Video, TNT Network, the Perrier Group of America, Pillsbury, and Best Foods. Gips was born in the Bronx on March 28, 1931 and was a lifelong Yankee fan. After graduating from the Cooper Union and the Yale School of Art and Architecture, he started his career as an art director at Time Life Books. He married Barbara Solinger in 1958, with whom he had five children, and soon settled in New Rochelle. In 1961 he set up shop in New York with partner Lou Klein and worked with some of the most influential artists of the era, including Saul Bass. He later partnered with Steve Frankfurt and created Frankfurt Gips Balkind, a highly successful venture that lasted until the early 1990s. Later in his career he formed a partnership with Leonard Wolfe. Though his body of work is vast, Gips is probably best known for the scores of movie posters he designed. For instance, poster for Rosemary’s Baby (1968) also has drawn great acclaim. “Like all the best movie posters,” wrote one critic, “the one for 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t depict a scene from the film. We see the silhouette of a pram on harsh, rocky terrain, set against a sickly green background. Mia Farrow’s upturned face looms behind it, as though the titular mom were lying supine: mindscape as landscape.” Gips was as prolific as his work was diverse. He designed posters for comedies (Arthur (1981), Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)), thrillers (Fatal Attraction (1987), No Way Out (1987), dramas ( Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Sophie’s Choice (1982), The Verdict (1982), Absence of Malice (1981)), a superhero film (Superman (1978)), sports movies (Downhill Racer (1969), Hoosiers (1986)), a fantasy/rock opera (Tommy (1975)), Hollywood spectacles (All That Jazz (1979), That’s Entertainment (1974)), and searing social commentaries (Network (1976), The Front (1976), Catch 22 (1970)). Gips’s posters are routinely tapped in best-of lists. In 2001, Premiere magazine listed three of his works—for Alien, Rosemary’s Baby and Downhill Racer—in its top 50 movie posters of all time. But Gips’s work went far beyond the silver screen. Two of his pieces reside in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York: Imported from Sweden (1973) and the poster for Emmanuelle (1974). In 1983, he designed the logo for ESPN, which is still in use today. He also designed enduring logos for The History Channel, the rock band .38 Special, and many other clients. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; his sons Steven, Michael, David, and James; his daughter Dana; his sister Zelda; and his 11 grandchildren, who were the light of his life.
Sunday, October 6, 2019
Sunday, October 6, 2019
October 29, 2019
I'm not sure that you remember me, but I'm Phil's cousin Joan. I tried to find your phone number but had no luck, so I'm resorting to this venue and hoping the message will reach you.
I heard from my cousin Linda a few days ago about Phil's passing. I was so sorry, not only about the sad news, but also about the fact that we had been out of touch for so many years. I knew him best when we were young, and always loved his humor and admired his talent. I still remember how much I enjoyed it when, on those visits to the Shakespeare Avenue apartment, he took me aside to show me his drawings. I remember the family's excitement when he did the poster for "Rosemary's Baby" and have been, over the years, aware of some of his other achievements. Reading his obituaries the other day, I realized that he was even more of a giant in his field than I had known.
I have no explanation of how and why we fell out of touch but feel so sad about the opportunities lost. I hope that you and your children will find solace in all the good memories of Phil and in his lasting heritage. If and when you'd like to be in touch, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 5, 2019
To the Gips Family
Although I did not have the honor of meeting Phil Gips I feel that I knew him through all the stories, memories and accomplishments his son Steve shared with me over the past 6 years. I know he was a wonderful man because he influenced his 5 children and many grandchildren to become individuals with great character and people who accomplished and continue to accomplish so much. I admire the devotion of Phil's wife and the devotion of Steve Gips and his wife Barbara to the well being of Phil. May he rest in peace.
I am so sorry for your loss.