Chip Kidd

Chip Kidd
Chip Kidd

Kidd at the New York Comic Convention in Manhattan, October 8, 2010.
Born Charles Kidd[1]
September 12, 1964 (1964-09-12) (age 47)
Reading, Pennsylvania, United States
Education Pennsylvania State University
Occupation Graphic designer, Writer
Notable credit(s) Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits,
The Cheese Monkeys,
The Learners,
Official website

Chip Kidd (born September 12, 1964)[2] is an American author, editor, and graphic designer, best known for his book covers.


Early life

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Kidd grew up in the Reading suburb of Shillington, strongly influenced by American popular culture. While a design student at Penn State, an art instructor once gave the assignment to design a book cover for Museums and Women by John Updike, also a Shillington native. The teacher panned Kidd's work in front of the class, suggesting that book design would not be a good career choice for him.[citation needed] Kidd later received professional assignments to design covers for Memories of the Ford Administration and other books by Updike.


Cover design

Kidd is currently associate art director at Knopf, an imprint of Random House. He first joined the Knopf design team in 1986, when he was hired as a junior assistant. Turning out jacket designs at an average of 75 a year, Kidd has freelanced for Doubleday, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Grove Press, HarperCollins, Penguin/Putnam, Scribner and Columbia University Press in addition to his work for Knopf. Kidd also supervises graphic novels at Pantheon, and in 2003 he collaborated with Art Spiegelman on a biography of cartoonist Jack Cole, Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits. His output includes cover concepts for books by Mark Beyer, Bret Easton Ellis, Haruki Murakami, Dean Koontz, Cormac McCarthy, Frank Miller, Michael Ondaatje, Alex Ross, Charles Schulz, Osamu Tezuka, David Sedaris, Donna Tartt, John Updike and others. His design for Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park novel was carried over into marketing for the film adaptation. Oliver Sacks and other authors have contract clauses stating that Kidd design their books.[3]

Kidd is currently working with writer Lisa Birnbach on True Prep, a follow-up to her 1980 book The Official Preppy Handbook.[4]

Publishers Weekly described his book jackets as "creepy, striking, sly, smart, unpredictable covers that make readers appreciate books as objects of art as well as literature."[5] USA Today also called him "the closest thing to a rock star"[6] in graphic design today, while author James Ellroy has called him “the world’s greatest book-jacket designer.”[7][8]

Kidd has often downplayed the importance of cover designs, stating, "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." He is also known to be humorously self-deprecating in regards to his work with statements such as "I piggy-backed my career on the backs of authors, not the other way around. The latest example of that is The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. I'm lucky to be attached to that. Cormac McCarthy is not lucky to have me doing his cover."[3]

Collectors and librarians note that The Secret History, which Mr. Kidd wrapped in a translucent acetate overlay, ultimately has not survived the test of time, as copies show that the corners and edges of the covers persistently curl up and do not maintain their pristine condition.[citation needed]

Kidd is as a fan of comic book media, particularly Batman, and has written and designed book covers for several DC Comics publications, including The Complete History of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, The Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days, and the aforementioned Jack Cole and Plastic Man. He also designed Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross and wrote an exclusive Batman/Superman story illustrated by Ross for the book. Kidd once stated that the first cover he ever noticed was "no doubt for some sort of Batman comic I saw when I was about 3, enough said. Or maybe not enough said: the colors, the forms, the design. Batman himself is such a brilliant design solution." Veronique Vienne, who wrote an eponymous book about Kidd in 2006, described Kidd's Batman fandom as a "childhood obsession and lasting adult passion."[9]


His first novel, The Cheese Monkeys, (Simon and Schuster, 2001) is an academic satire and coming-of-age tale about state college art students who struggle to meet the demands of a sadistic graphic design instructor. The book draws on Kidd's real-life experiences during his art studies at Penn State.

Kidd's second novel, The Learners, finds the protagonist of The Cheese Monkeys drawn into the infamous Milgram experiment, thanks to an incidental newspaper ad assignment. The novel uses the experiment as an extended metaphor for advertising, wherein the "content" is masked and fed — sometimes unwillingly — to its consumers.[10]

It was announced at New York Comic-Con 2011 that Kidd would be writing Batman: Death By Design, an original graphic novel.[11]


In early 2008, Kidd started a new wave/alternative rock band, writing and recording music under the name Artbreak. He takes the role of song writing, vocals, and percussion, and while the group began as hobby, Kidd has expressed interest in making a serious project out of it.[12] As of 2008, the group performs across the United States and has a tour schedule on their MySpace. They plan to record their original songs for an album entitled Wonderground.


In 2010, Kidd collaborated with the writing staff of the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold on the episode "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases!" The episode contained a segment that was heavily inspired by the Batman manga from the 1960's.[13]

Personal life

Kidd lives on Manhattan's Upper East Side.[14] A biographical survey, Chip Kidd by Veronique Vienne (Yale University Press, 2003), was followed by Chip Kidd: Book One, Work: 1986–2006 (Rizzoli, 2005), curated and designed by Mark Melnick with text by Kidd.

The author is also a serious collector of Batman merchandise which fills his Manhattan apartment. In 2001, Kidd designed and wrote Batman: Collected which features his childhood photos and several pieces from his vintage Batman collection as photographed by Geoff Spear. In the 287-page book, he writes extensively of his nostalgic memories and of Batman as a merchandising icon.[15] Kidd also worked with fellow Batman collector Saul Ferris on another book of a more particular subject matter, Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan, which hit stores shelves in October 2008.[16][17]


  1. ^ Gordon, Amanda. "Out and about: A Chipper Launch For Chip Kidd," New York Sun (Feb. 21, 2008). Accessed Sept. 18, 2008,.
  2. ^ Chip Kidd Bio Retrieved April 2, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Somaiya, Ravi "Warning: graphic material" (Nov. 4, 2007). Retrieved on April 2, 2008.
  4. ^ Rich Motoko "Rejoice, Muffy and Biff: A Preppy Primer Revisited", The New York Times (April 3, 2010). Retrieved on April 3, 2010.
  5. ^ Chip Kidd: Book One: Work: 1986-2006 Barnes & Noble (November 1, 2005). Retrieved on April 2, 2008.
  6. ^ Minzesheimer, Bob (2003-09-03), "Chip Kidd, book cover designer, unmasked ; Prolific artist is on the front of a new book -- about him", USA Today 
  7. ^ Heer, Jeet (2003-09-18), "In his good books: Asking us to both see and read, Chip Kidd's book jackets contain the essence of comics", National Post 
  8. ^ Heer, Jeet. "Chip Kidd" National Post (September 12, 2003)
  9. ^ Minzesheimer, Bob "Chip Kidd, book cover designer, unmasked" USA Today (September 3, 2003). Retrieved on April 1, 2008.
  10. ^ "Hot Chip". CBC News. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Eberhart, John Mark "Author/designer Chip Kidd has a new novel and a long resume of impressive artwork" (February 27, 2008). Retrieved April 2, 2008.
  13. ^ "Learn how Superman, Wonder Woman and Scooby Doo will appear on Batman: The Brave and the Bold!". 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  14. ^ Kennedy, Sean (2005-11-22), "Kidd dynamite: the first collection of book jackets by Chip Kidd prompts the question "would there be books without him?" An exclusive talk with the out designer.", The Advocate, archived from the original on February 24, 2006,, retrieved 2008-01-24 [dead link]
  15. ^ Batman Collected (Paperback) Retrieved on April 1, 2008.
  16. ^ Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan (Hardcover) (2008). Retrieved April 2, 2008.
  17. ^ Aoki, Deb Interview: Chip Kidd and Saul Ferris Manga. (February 2008) Retrieved on April 2, 2008.


Further reading

  • Forward by Chip Kidd to Just my Type by Simon Garfield, Profile Books, 2010

External links


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