Photo: John Madere
"My standing lecture for the last year has been called 'Failing Better,'" said Chip Kidd, when we had a chance to interview him about his book Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design. He stressed the importance of bouncing back from failure, adding, "You have to look at it as an opportunity to do something better. That's very important in design."
Originally, Kidd wanted to be a cartoonist (readers will note the abundance of Batman images in the book), but he didn't believe he was talented enough. So for more than 25 years, Chip Kidd has designed book covers for the Knopf imprint at Random House--books such as Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, one of the most recognizable covers in the world. He says that Go, his visual guide to graphic design, for kids from 10 to 100, introduces "ideas that I didn't start considering until I was in college."
One of the simplest and most thought-provoking lines in the book is the statement, "Everything that is not made by nature is designed by someone." Kidd explains, "Until you have to try to make some of this stuff, there's a tendency to think that it just sort of happens, or that you don't take into account you have to think of it or do it." Not until someone tries to make something herself or himself can that person understand how challenging it is. He gives some excellent examples of the design challenges he's solved in his TED Talk.
A standout example Kidd uses in Go is a milk carton inspired by nature--its design resembles the markings of a Holstein cow. "It's considering the source of the material and following from there logically," Kidd observed, adding, "That's kind of hilarious." In the book, he includes 10 projects that allow kids to try their hand at graphic design.
He says he wanted to end the book with the inspiration, "Okay, now take this information and contribute to society with it." He believes that the best single example of that is the iconic "I Love New York" image from Milton Glaser.