Comic books were Chip Kidd’s gateway into graphic design. Batman and Superman populate his earliest childhood memories. Born in 1964, Kidd never outgrew his passion for comics. His obsessive attraction to Krypton and caped crusaders did not doom him, however, to a life of idleness and crime. Today, Kidd is a designer and writer of astonishing talent and influence; he is also known as one of the world’s leading Batman experts. (His first book as an author/designer/art director was Batman Collected, published by Bulfinch in 1996.)
Kidd studied graphic design with Lanny Sommese at Penn State, one of the largest public universities in the US. Sommese’s brutal and eccentric teaching style is the subject of Kidd’s 2001 coming-of-age novel The Cheese Monkeys, a book that aimed to “distill the grueling ordeal of becoming a graphic designer into a narrative that anyone could understand.” After graduating in 1986, Kidd moved to New York City and landed a position as a junior assistant in the art department at Alfred A. Knopf. He has been working there ever since, creating dozens of clever and eccentric covers each year for Knopf as well as for freelance clients across the publishing world.
For designers, the allure of book jackets and covers lies in the opportunity to work with authors and to shape the physical form and public identity of literary artifacts that have lasting value. The jacket designer stakes a claim to authorship as well, with a credit line printed on the back flap. As soon as Kidd started working at Knopf, authors and editors took notice of this new name printed on those flaps, and he became the go-to designer for such well-known writers as Bret Easton Ellis, Haruki Murakami, Dean Koontz, Cormac McCarthy, David Sedaris and Donna Tartt. Best-selling author and neurologist Oliver Sacks has a clause in his contract demanding cover designs by Chip Kidd.
SOURCE: THE PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR DESIGN