Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover…

Named ìthe closest thing to a graphic design rock starî by USA Today and the ìBatman of all designersî by Art Daily, Chip Kidd, is one of the most popular, renowned book designers in todayís design field. Born in Shilington, PA, Kidd always had an eye for design. At the age of three, he was attracted to the design elements on the cover of a Batman comics book. Since then, his passion for design grew, specifically for comics and book design. Veronique Vienne wrote a book about Kidd, describing his attraction to Batman as a “childhood obsession and lasting adult passion.î As you can see from this video, his passion for comics started at a young age.

Despite his art professor stating his designs for a book cover project were fair at best, he is now one of the most celebrated book designers in the world. Averaging about 75 book covers a year, he has designed concepts for acclaimed authors such as Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz, Charles Schulz, David Sedaris and John Updike. In addition, his passion for comic books has lead him to design covers for several DC comic publications such as ìThe Complete History of Batman, Superman and Wonder Womanî and ìThe Golden Age of DC Comics: 356 Daysî. He has also written and designed two books, ìThe Cheese Monkeyísî and ìThe Learnersî. Below is a quick video showing his clever use of typography in the design of the book, ìThe Learnersî.

Despite the large amount of acclaim heís received from his book designs, Kidd is a very humble person. He has stated that consumers should not judge books by their covers. “I’m very much against the idea that the cover will sell the book. Marketing departments of publishing houses tend to latch onto this concept and they can’t let go. But it’s about whether the book itself really connects with the public, and the cover is only a small part of that.”

Two years ago, while I was at the HOW conference in Atlanta, I was fortunate enough to attend Chip Kiddís lecture on design. I was so impressed with his lecture, I was determined to talk to him at one point during the conference. I wasnít sure how I was going to accomplish this since there were over 5,000 people in attendance. The day before we flew back to Jersey, the conference hosted a ëDesign Ballî at the Atlanta aquarium where all attendees was asked to dress as their favorite typographic solution. My manager and I were dressed as widows, wearing black veils. (I know, cheesy, but most design geeks got a kick out of it!) After my 2nd drink, I saw Chip Kidd by himself casually sitting at a table, enjoying the music. I was ecstatic! I could talk to him! But what would I say? How should I act? He was a renowned book designer and I had just graduated from college! I downed my 3rd drink and walked over to him. All I could say was ìYour session was great!!î He smiled, thanked me and said, ìIím glad you liked itî. I stood there for a few more minutes, starred at him, trying to think of something else to say, but couldnít! Instead I smiled again, said my goodbyes and walked away. Even though it was an extremely short conversation, I am proud to say I met Chip Kidd, the most celebrated and famous book designer in the world!

Jul 16, 2009

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