Chip Kidd, World’s Best Book Jacket Designer

Charles Kidd nicknamed Chip Kidd was Born in Shillington in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Kidd grew up being fascinated and heavily inspired by American popular culture. Comic books were his gateway into graphic design, with Batman and Superman populating some of his earliest childhood memories. Kidd attended Pennsylvania State University, where …

Charles Kidd nicknamed Chip Kidd was Born in Shillington in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Kidd grew up being fascinated and heavily inspired by American popular culture. Comic books were his gateway into graphic design, with Batman and Superman populating some of his earliest childhood memories. Kidd attended Pennsylvania State University, where he graduated in 1986 with a degree in graphic design.

Kidds hope was to work as a graphic designer in one of New York’s big design firms. But upon arrival in the fall of 1986 after many interviews, the only job he was offered was a junior assistant to the art director at Alfred A. Knopf, a book publisher. Although this was not his dream idea of a job. Kidd says he had no idea what he was about to become apart of, but he was very lucky. As he tells us during his entertaining TED lecture, soon it occurred to Kidd what his job was.

“My job was to ask this question: “What do the stories look like?” Because that is what Knopf is. It is the story factory, one of the very best in the world. We bring stories to the public.”

Every book needs a face to give you a first impression of what you are about to get in to. And this is what Kidd does, gives form to content with “a very careful balance between the two.” One of the most consistent characteristics of Kidd’s style is the fact that his book covers don’t carry one signature look, as he states: “A signature look is crippling because the simplest and effective solutions aren’t dictated by the style.” His book jackets have been described as striking, sly, smart, and unpredictable that make readers appreciate books as objects of art as well as literature.

Kidds most notable book cover design was for Michael Crichton‘s Jurassic Park. To inspire himself to create this book sleeve Kidd made a visit to local museums in New York to gather materials and knowledge about dinosaurs. He bought a book from the gift shop and this would be where his design for Jurassic Park would come from.

Michael Crichton loved the book sleeve and soon the design would be seen everywhere when MCA universal contacted Knopf’s legal department to look into buying the rights to Kidd’s design. And it happened!

Kidd has presented lectures at Princeton, Yale, Harvard, RISD, and numerous other institutions, including the 2012 Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference, resulting in a TED Talk on “Designing books is no laughing matter” that has over 1,775,000 hits and counting. Some say Chip Kidd is the “worlds best book jacket designer to date”. He received an AIGA medal back in 2014, a National Design Award for Communication (2007) and an International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award for Design (1997). Check out some more beautiful book sleeves of his bellow.