IKE | Judging a book by its cover designer
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Judging a book by its cover designer

Chip Kidd

Judging a book by its cover designer

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. – Chip Kidd

Let’s just stipulate right now that Chip Kidd is the King of Cover Design. The name may not be familiar to you, but his book covers have surely caught your eye. If you’ve read any books recently by Cormac McCarthy, John Updike, Haruki Murakami, or James Ellroy, you’ve seen Chip’s work. The Book Cover Archive has a small sampling of his covers and V&#233ronique Vienne’s book, Chip Kidd (Yale University Press, 2003) has more. For a larger sampling, Chip’s work from 1986 through 2006 was collected in a hefty tome called Chip Kidd: Book One.

Chip is currently the Associate Art Director at Alfred A. Knopf. At one time, the design department at Knopf included Chip, Archie Ferguson, Carol Devine Carson, and Barbara de Wilde in their pantheon.

Chip has a wry, self-deprecating sense of humor. On his website, Good is Dead he writes (about himself): His designs have been described as “Monstrously ugly” (John Updike), “apparently obvious” (William Boyd), “Faithful flat-earth rendering” (Don DeLillo), “surprisingly elegant” (A. S. Mehta), “a distinguished parochial comic balding Episcopal priest” (Allan Gurganus), “Two colors plus a sash” (Martin Amis) and “not a piece of hype. My book was lucky.” (Robert Hughes).

Chip has written (and designed) two books, The Cheese Monkeys: A Novel in Two Semesters based on his experience in art school, and its follow-up, The Learners: A Novel. In his spare time, Chip performs with his band, artbreak.

It is rumored that Chip never sleeps.

David Isaacson
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