Philip Gips, a graphic designer, advertising executive and creator of posters for hit films including Alien, Rosemary’s Baby and more, died Thursday in White Plains, NY. He was 88 and his death was announced by the Endeavor agency.
Gips was born in the Bronx on March 28, 1931. After graduating from the Cooper Union and the Yale School of Art and Architecture, he worked with some of the most influential artists of the era, including Saul Bass. In the early 1960s, he opened a Manhattan-based advertising firm with Lou Klein, then later partnered with Steve Frankfurt and created Frankfurt Gips Balkind, a highly successful venture that lasted until the early 1990s.
During his career, Gips was the principal art director and creative visionary on 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 tag line, “In space no one can hear you scream,” which was written by Gips’s wife, Barbara.
The poster for Rosemary’s Baby (1968) also generated attention. “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 also designed posters for comedies (Arthur, Desperately Seeking Susan), thrillers (Fatal Attraction, No Way Out), dramas (Kramer vs. Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, The Verdict, Absence of Malice), a superhero film (Superman), sports movies (Downhill Racer, Hoosiers), a fantasy/rock opera (Tommy), Hollywood spectacles (All That Jazz, That’s Entertainment) and searing social commentaries (Network, The Front, Catch 22).
Gips’ posters were routinely tapped in best-of lists. In 2001, Premiere magazine listed three of his works—for Alien, Rosemary’s Baby and Downhill Racer— on its “50 Best Movie Posters of All Time” list.
Gips’ work went far beyond films. Two of his pieces reside in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York: Imported from Sweden (1973) and the movie poster for Emmanuelle (1974). He designed the logo for ESPN in 1983, which is still in use today, as well as the logos for the History Channel, and the rock band .38 Special, among many others.
He married Barbara Joan Solinger. His children include Steven, Dana, Michael, David, and James Gips. No information on a memorial service was immediately available.