Over the years, Gil Born has worn many hats, including those of serviceman, professor, design consultant, and artist. His career path encompasses military service, more than 40 years as an Industrial Design professor in the University of Cincinnati’s renowned DAAP program, as well as a successful second career as a painter and art instructor.
Before embarking on his career as a professor, Gil served in the United States Air Force for four years through the ROTC at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. He says that wouldn’t be very noteworthy, except for the fact that he was there during a particularly tense moment in American history—the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“We were on high alert during that time, but it wasn’t very stressful.” He joked, “I like to tell people I fought the Cold War, and we’re safe because of it.”
After his military service, Gil became a professor in UC’s DAAP program. For more than 40 years, he was a professor and advisor in the Industrial Design program. He served as department chairman for 12 years, and taught Visual Communication courses and Experimental Design studios. As an educator, he benefited from UC’s world renowned co-op system in which students alternate between school quarters and full-time work assignments in their professional fields throughout the U.S., and occasionally in foreign countries. He says it was “a very gratifying teaching lifestyle. After gaining a few quarters of work experience, the students felt more like colleagues. In studios, it would feel like, ‘OK we’re a team. I’ll guide and work with you.’” One of nine kids, Gil has painted all his life, and credits a lot of that interest to his mother, who was very talented and artistic. He said he gravitated towards industrial design because of his interest in painting and art. “Visual communication stems from art; I was interested because industrial design is artistic skill assigned to practical problems. Industrial design is applied art.”
Gil originally worked in watercolors, and 25 years ago began painting in oils. Now, even in his “retirement,” he continues to work as an educator. He is an instructor at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he teaches courses in oil painting, and often shows his work in faculty art shows. He says some of his favorite subjects to paint include landscapes, seascapes, human figures, portraits and still lifes. “Like many realistic painters, I admire the work of John Singer Sargent, who provided great examples in all of these categories,” said Gil.
As for dental work, he says he has had his share over the years. According to Gil, “my mouth is like a museum of modern dental history. I’ve had crowns, fillings, root canals and implants.” Gil has been a patient at Hagen Dental Practice for about 20 years. “The Hagen staff is so talented and very professional.” He says it’s the constant level of professionalism at Hagen that has impressed him most and kept him coming back over the years.
Gil lives in Clifton with his wife, Carol.