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Member Spotlight: Gil Hanson

Written by
aigaphiladelphia
Published
September 22, 2016

We’re celebrating AIGA Philadelphia’s 35th Anniversary tonight! In honor of the celebration, this week’s Member Spotlight is Gil Hanson, an AIGA Philadelphia President emeritus with 40 years of experience in the design field. Learn more about Gil below and RSVP for tonight’s party to meet more of AIGA Philadelphia’s past board members and influential designers.

Tell us a little about yourself. What is your current job?
I’m CDO of Hanson Design. We have a wonderful collaborative team of strategists, designers, writers, developers, illustrators, photographers and videographers.  We currently have two design alliances: BF+H with Berge Farrell in Cape Town, South Africa and Novamerge with Commcepta in Curitiba, Brazil.

How long have you been in the field?
40 years! Still having fun, actually more than ever…

What important milestones do you credit to getting to where you are now?
Graduating from RISD in 1976. Everybody was so talented and motivated there…I still can’t believe I made it through!

Moving to Miami in 1977 and being part of the change that made that city become what it is today. It had a very small design community back then with 2 design firms and a few architecture firms. We all hung out together with total sense of freedom because no one had any credentials to judge the work.

Working with Richard Ritter in the 80”s. He was a great designer with huge accounts (FEDX, Kraft, etc.) I remember reading all his design books in his library while working on mega projects. He had an amazing talented team of the likes of Bob Minkus, Chris Bailey, Paul Spiker and others. Richard was very business savvy, which taught me to have the confidence to start my own studio in 1988.

Why design? What inspires you to do the work you do?
I was born a visual person. My Dad was an architect and so was my Grandfather. They were both highly educated and very much into design thinking. When I said I didn’t want to go to a design college, my Dad was really disappointed. Later, when I decided to transfer to RISD he was so excited. I remember how intimate it was sharing my school work with him.

I love beauty, balance and helping make things better. It’s these 3 things that inspire me and my work. It’s really rewarding to work with other designers such as Michael McDonald and Lisa Brueggemann to help clients succeed.

I also want to acknowledge all the great designers that I have worked with in the past including: Deb McSorley, Toby Beck, Christy Beck, Michael Welsh, Sean Caldwell, Troy Kiick, Cruz Mejias, Michael O’Connell, Dave Fiedler, and many others.

How long have you been an AIGA member?
1983

Why did you join AIGA?
Well, initially AIGA was the place where all the cool graphic designers were. So when I moved back to Philly in ’83 it was the one thing I had to do. Everyone back then was very involved in defining ‘graphic design’ as a real profession – separate for AD agencies and ‘commercial artists’ – the term we all hated the most 🙂

How have you benefited from your AIGA membership?
Yes. It helped me to define my professional work. It inspired and still inspires me to see and share great work.

What do you enjoy most about the Philadelphia Chapter of AIGA?
Friendships and the collective Philly viewpoint. As we all know and love, Philly has a very unique place in history, culture and community. Being smacked in the middle between the two biggest ego-centric cities in the world allows us to have more fun and not be so ‘full of ourselves’. Being the underdog has been really good for us.

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