Gill had begun cutting letters in stone during his first few months at Westminster Technical Institute. He was simultaneously learning writing and studying the Roman alphabet with Edward Johnston at the L. C. C. Central School of Arts and Crafts. These twin influences worked together to persuade him to give up his planned profession as an architect and become a lettercutter and monumental mason.
The rash of idealistic small craft workshops established in the 1880s and 1890s in the wake of William Morris and inspired by his ideas, had already revived many craft skills. But there had been no creative advances in cutting or incising letters into stone, and this was a challenge to which Gill had risen eagerly. Lettercutting presented irresistible and challenging questions. So, early on in his career, Gill had adopted lettercutting, with its compelling precisions and certainties, as the cornerstone of his philosophy of artistic rationality.