Chip Kidd is an award-winning graphic designer and writer in New York City. His groundbreaking book jacket designs for Alfred A. Knopf have elevated the form for close to three decades. He’s worked with hundreds of writers, including John Updike, Katharine Hepburn, Cormac McCarthy, James Ellroy, Michael Crichton, David Sedaris, Paul Simon, Neil Gaiman, and Haruki Murakami. He is the recipient of the National Design Award for Communications, and his TED Talks have been viewed over 3.5 million times. His first novel, The Cheese Monkeys, was a national bestseller. His most recent book, Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design, is the first book to teach graphic design to children and has over 60,000 copies in print. As an editor and art director for Pantheon Graphic novels, he’s worked with and published some of the very best cartoonists in the world, including Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman, Dan Clowes, David Mazzucchelli, Charles Burns, Michael Cho, and Alex Ross.
My name is Chip Kidd, and I’m a graphic designer, primarily of book covers. My role in this project is to design the cover of this collection… I think the talent involved in this project is amazing. And I’ve either worked with or know most of the people involved, and I certainly admire all of them. We have a group of very well known writers writing about work. How do we communicate that without making it look like you’ve seen this all before? You’ve got the idea of work. You’ve got the work itself. You’ve got the place where you do the work. When they told me the subtitle of the book: “A story of love, suspense and paperclips” that was like bing, emphasis on the word “paperclips”. Let’s try and incorporate that as a visual metaphor. Because all of the artists involved work very differently, and they all have different ideas for their own workplaces. But I think one thing that’s pretty universal, whether you’re Aimee Mann or Jonathan Safran Foer is I’ll bet they all, at some point during the day, use a paperclip. For something, right? I am very much a designer who makes things, who makes objects. Books, to me, are objects. They are things I want to hold and look at… I’m not interested in creating design that can be turned off with a switch. What I am aiming to achieve when I design a book cover? It’s as simple and as complicated as this: I want a potential reader to look at the design that I’ve done, and think, “Wow. I want to read that… Wow, look at that. That looks really interesting.”