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Chip Kidd’s book design spawned a revolution in the art of American book packaging.

You know a Chip Kidd book when you see it — precisely because it’s unexpected, non-formulaic, and perfectly right for the text within. As a graphic designer for Alfred A. Knopf since 1986, Kidd has designed shelves full of books, including classics you can picture in a snap: Jurassic Park, Naked by David Sedaris, All the Pretty Horses … His monograph, Chip Kidd: Book One, contains work spanning two decades. As editor and art director for Pantheon Graphic novels, Kidd has commissioned work from cartoonists including Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman, and Dan Clowes. He’s a novelist as well, author of The Cheese Monkeys and The Learners.

“Kidd’s contribution to design extends far beyond a single book cover. The fusion of story and graphics that drew him to comics as a child continues to drive his creativity today, allowing him to conjure narrative power from design’s most basic elements.” — AIGA

Early Years

Chip Kidd is a contemporary American graphic designer, author and editor. He is best recognized as graphic designer for book covers. Being a huge admirer of comic books he not only wrote some of those for DC Comics but also designed their covers.

Chip Kidd grew up to be an associate art director at the New York publishing house, Knopf. Besides, Kidd freelanced for various firms and produced more than 70 book jackets per year. Some of the publishing houses he freelanced for included Farrar Straus & Giroux, Amazon, HarperCollins, Scribner and Penguin/Putnam. At Pantheon Book he designed the graphic novels.

In 2003, he collaborated with an American cartoonist and editor, Art Spiegelman, on Jack Cole’s biography, titled Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits. Furthermore, Kidd created cover concepts for some of the most popular novelists and author of the generation. Some of his clients included Bret Easton Ellis, Dean Koontz, Frank Miller, Mark Beyer, Donna Tartt and Alex Ross. The film adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park novel featured Kidd’s concept art for the novel. Other famous authors, Oliver Sacks and Lisa Birnbach, also requested his expertise for their books’ covers.

 

The leading American literary news magazine, Publishers Weekly commented on his book jackets as being creepy, unconventional, cunning and striking. They are designed in a manner that makes the book readers appreciate the covers as a separate art form and as well as part of literature. The American national daily newspaper USA Today lauded his spirit in the graphic designing and called him “the closest thing to a rock star” in the industry. James Ellroy, a widely recognized author, appreciated Kidd’s book jacket designs and called him “the world’s greatest” graphic designer. Despite Kidd’s rigorous and meticulous work on his designs, he often downplayed the significance of his covers. He doesn’t advocate the idea that the book-cover alone can sell the book. Instead he believes that the content of the book holds the key to its success and cover design plays a minor role in it.

Kidd has a humble and self-deprecating attitude and never accepted credit for his work. For instance, when he declared that he made his career on the back of authors and that he is fortunate to work on Cormac McCarthy’s books and not the other way round. Moreover, he confessed to be a huge fan of comic books, especially Batman series. In fact, he has designed book covers and wrote several of DC Comics. The comic books include The Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days, Superman, The Complete History of Batman and Wonder Woman.

In addition to graphic designing, Chip Kidd also wrote novels. In 2001, he released his debut novel The Cheese Monkeys which is an academic satire. It narrates the coming-of-age tale about state college art students who were bullied by their graphic designing instructor. The book largely draws upon Kidd’s real-life experiences. The sequel of the novel The Learners appeared in 2008. Kidd wrote the story for the original graphic novel, Batman: Death By Design (2012). In 2014, he received an AIGA medal for his contribution to graphic designing industry.

GO: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design

Kids love to express themselves, and are designers by nature―whether making posters for school, deciding what to hang in their rooms, or creating personalized notebook covers. Go, by the award-winning graphic designer Chip Kidd, is a stunning introduction to the ways in which a designer communicates his or her ideas to the world. It’s written and designed just for those curious kids, not to mention their savvy parents, who want to learn the secret of how to make things dynamic and interesting.

“An excellent introduction to graphic design through [the author’s] own excellent work. Anyone interested in the subject, including most practitioners, will find it delightful.”―Milton Glaser

Chip Kidd is “the closest thing to a rock star” in the design world (USA Today), and in Go he explains not just the elements of design, including form, line, color, scale, typography, and more, but most important, how to use those elements in creative ways. Like putting the word “go” on a stop sign, Go is all about shaking things up―and kids will love its playful spirit and belief that the world looks better when you look at it differently. He writes about scale: When a picture looks good small, don’t stop there―see how it looks when it’s really small. Or really big. He explains the difference between vertical lines and horizontal lines. The effect of cropping a picture to make it beautiful―or, cropping it even more to make it mysterious and compelling. How different colors signify different moods. The art of typography, including serifs and sans serifs, kerning and leading.

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