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CHIP KIDD Book Design Process BY RICHIE MAHONEY


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I think the most important skill a book designer can have is a love of reading.

CHIP KIDD


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A successful book makes a successful cover. I know that sounds pedantic but its true.


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I’m given an extraordinary

amount of freedom. Kidd at work at his office in New York City.


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Kidd speaking at a design convention.


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Chip Kidd at a Knopf Presentation


9 Top Left: A selection of covers from Kidd’s career.

Bringing a reader to a book is precisely what I’m trying to do.

Chip Kidd has added his signature style to a large variety of work beyond book jackets. He has designed covers for iconic magazines such as Rolling Stone, and Gentlemen’s Quarterly. He has also designed various comics such as Batman and Charles Schultz’s Peanuts. The comics are more of a passion project for Kidd as he describes himself as “Batman’s number one fan”. His office is decorated in tons of fan art and comic art for inspiration. His office is one big homage to all the great design around at the time.


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Chip Kidd began his studies at Penn State University as a Graphic Design Student. He detailed these experiences in his first book “The Cheese Monkeys” and spoke of how his eccentric professors shaped his now famous style. After his graduation he decided to move to New York and apply for every job he could. He began in 1986 as an assiastant at Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House. He has now gone on to become Assistant Art Director at Knopf and turns out 75 book covers on average a year. Chip Kidd is known for his minimalistic style combined with bright colors and use of photography. He believes the key to designing a good book is to know the material as well as the author. He will have many conversations with authors as well as make sure he reads the book’s manuscript. Some of his most famous work has taken on a life of its own. His design for a book named “Jurassic Park” by Michael Chricton, started out as a unique cover design. However when the book was optioned for a movie, Chip’s logo became the symbol of a billion dollar franchise. It appeared on movie posters, T-shirts and even it’s own theme park. When speaking of his design process, Chip Kidd has a very specific approach. He was drawn to book design because it was the one area of Design where the Designer got credit for their work unlike in TV or comericals. Although he started out as an assistant, he began designing hands on at Knopf in just six months. He enjoys book design because he is constantly being challenged and each assignment is different than the last. He believes that the cover is the audience’s first impression of a book and that is why covers are important. He trys to downplay the jacket as a sales tool because publishers will put too much pressure on the cover. He describes his typography as conservative and not adeventurous. His biggest fear is that his work will look trendy, because he wants his covers to look just as good in ten years. He says he is much more inventive with photography versus typography. He has won several awards for his incorporation of photography into his book designs.

He sees an image as way more powerful than type on a page. He likes to create a visual puzzle for the reader to solve. Chip Kidd has designed book covers for 27 years and had never considered one specific audience: children. His editor had mentioned how nobody had created a book to teach children Graphic Design. He was initially resistant as he said he doesn’t have children nor does he particularly like them. He had no idea how to talk to them. He decided to market the book towards the 10 year old area, as they would have already had experience writing and reading. “Language is a big part of Graphic Design” according to Chip which is why he needed an older audience. His book looks at the design that surrounds kids everyday: signs, books, packages and advertisements. He has also released his own coffee table book of work called “Chip Kidd Book One” as a response to people asking to see a collection of his covers. The book includes vintage personal photos and plenty of witty quips that Kidd is beloved for. It details his life from childhood into the the height of his career. The book was a dream of his and was extremely enjoyable to go through the process of creating it. It was certainly a labor of love for Kidd.


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I’m a very slow reader


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Bibliography: “Chip Kidd.” Smithsonian. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/ arts-culture/chip-kidd-174825161/?no-ist>. Lasky, Julie. “Chip Kidd: Start Making Sense.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <http://www. nytimes.com/2013/10/17/garden/chip-kiddstart-making-sense.html?_r=0>. “Q & A with Chip Kidd.”PublishersWeekly.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <http://www. publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/ interviews/article/59593-q-a-with-chip-kidd. html>.

Colophon: Designed by: Richie Mahoney April 2014 Maine College of Art GD 102: Spring 2014 Typefaces: Gill Sans Light Italic Bodoni SvtyTwo OS ITC TT BookIt


Chip Kidd: Book Design Process