Kidd, Chip

Tagged: Art

(1964-    ) American book designer, artist, editor, and author. After receiving artistic training at Penn State University, he began doing book design for Alfred A Knopf in 1986 and has since done freelance work for other publishers. While others in his profession, like Carol Russo and Ray Lundgren, make little effort to draw attention to themselves, Kidd has innovatively transformed himself into a celebrity, in part by means of his involvement in numerous collections of Comic book art; in some cases he writes their text, and in some cases he selects the art and thus functions as an editor, but he is always the book's designer, and he always receives credit as a co-author on the cover or title page. These volumes constitute valuable references for scholars, as they are generally intelligent compilations of sometimes hard-to-find comics, but they are regularly criticized for being over-designed, as Kidd's incessant efforts to present his texts and graphics in innovative ways can eventually become wearisome and actually detract from the enjoyment of visiting or revisiting classic illustrations. (Another one of Kidd's annoying tricks is to place texts against colourful or busy backgrounds that make the words very difficult to read.) As another expression of his fondness for comics, Kidd recently authored a Batman Graphic Novel, Batman: Death by Design (graph 2012), with art by Dave Taylor. He has also written two semi-autobiographical novels about a young artist, The Cheese Monkeys: A Novel in Two Semesters (2001) and The Learners: The Book after"The Cheese Monkeys" (2008), and in 2008 he began writing and singing songs for a rock band he founded, Artbreak.

While these eclectic ventures garnered some praise, Kidd has been most admired for his book design, and he is regularly credited as a cover artist as well. No one can doubt that he is capable of coming up with unusual and striking illustrations; as one prominent example, his cover for the first edition of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park (1990), a dark profile of a tyrannosaurus skeleton, reappeared on its paperback edition, and versions of the image were reused for Crichton's sequel The Lost World (1995) as well as for film adaptations of the novels. For the cover of the American edition of Geoff Ryman's Was (1992), Kidd effectively juxtaposed a placid blue sky with diverse representations of characters from L Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). And for four translated books by Kōji Suzuki, he created stunning geometric designs reminiscent of "op art"; the best of these, for Loop (1998; English trans by Glynne Walley 2006), showed the title seemingly falling into a brightly hypnotic spiral. Yet Kidd can also produce very ordinary work, as demonstrated by his disappointingly dignified covers for the American editions of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels The Fifth Elephant (1999) and Thief of Time (2001). Overall, Kidd certainly must be considered a talented book designer, but since there are other talented book designers now working in the field, one has to question whether the singular accolades showered upon Kidd's artistry are entirely justifiable. [GW]

Chip Kidd

born Reading, Pennsylvania: 10 September 1964

died

works

Note: Kidd sometimes receives cover or title page credit as a co-author of books when in fact he was only their designer; these books are not listed.

nonfiction

Includes graphic works that Kidd wrote but did not illustrate.

  • Batman Collected with Geoff Spear (New York: Bullfinch Press, 1996) [graph: photographs of Batman merchandise: text by Chip Kidd: photographs by Geoff Spear: hb/]
  • Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross with Alex Ross and Geoff Spear (New York: Pantheon Books, 2003) [graph: art by Alex Ross: text by Chip Kidd: photographs by Geoff Spear: hb/Alex Ross]
  • Shazam: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal with Geoff Spear (New York: Abrams ComicArt, 2010) [graph: reproductions of comic book pages and photographs of merchandise: art by C C Beck and others: text by Chip Kidd: photographs by Geoff Spear: hb/C C Beck]
  • True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World with Lisa Birnbach (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2011) [satirical nonfiction: text by Lisa Birnbach with Chip Kidd: pb/]

graphic works

graphic works as editor

links

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