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.
Born on 12 September 1964, in Pennsylvania, Chip Kidd grew up to be an associate art director at the New York publishing house, Knopf. He was hired at the publishing house as a junior assistant in 1986. 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. Jack Cole was a renowned American cartoonist best known for his creation of comic superhero, Plastic Man. 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 Kidds 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. Alex Ross illustrated one of the exclusive Batman/Superman stories that Kidd authored.
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.