on chip kidd’s TED talk

A little over a month ago, I was ridiculously excited to learn that the designer of one of my favorite book covers of all time, Chip Kidd, did a TED talk. As I was watching it, I sent a few excitedly obsessive opinionated emails to my fellow cover-snob (and lovely) friend Sommer. These emails may or not have been short, to the point and filled with fragments containing nothing but a slew of uppercase letters, mind you.

And sure, I may be late to the game in posting about the video, but Kidd talks about a lot of timeless design theory that can still be discussed years from now. When I think back to the early weeks of setting up TCG’s shop on the web, I’m reminded of my first pure intentions: to point out good design, to discuss it, and to celebrate it as it lives in the YA domain.

It’s easy to sit and consider the influences that marketing, audience and story have on a jacket’s artwork. And I’ll always consider the positive and negative impact that a face or a genderless cover will have on its adolescent audience. But I’d be a liar if I never admitted to the fact that deconstructing design always, always comes first. It’s just how my mind is geared to think. From looking at ascenders to examining white space, there are (surprisingly!) other thoughts that can form before labeling artwork as a SGiPD cover. And I certainly won’t admit to saying that a Sad Girl in Pretty Dress equals bad design.

I digress. I just like to reexamine my roots every once in a while, especially when the highlights get distracting.

Below you’ll find Chip Kidd’s TED talk, and I do encourage you to watch it in its entirety (a little over 17 minutes). And just for kicks, I’ll sit alongside and watch with you. A little play-by-play Capillya commentary never hurt anyone, right?

0:44          Skanky indeed, Chip! I can feel Audio Guy’s face burning as you speak!
0:54          I love your outfit, by the way.
1:28          Yes, tell your kids!
2:27         “What do stories look like?” – I love this question.
2:57         “A book designer gives form to content, but also manages a very careful balance between the two.”
3:35          Apple example: “THIS is treating your audience like a moron…and they deserve better.” AMEN, CHIP.
5:27         Every time you do that dance move I giggle like a 9-year-old.
5:55         For the youngsters, the rapidograph’s linked in my Sylvie LeFloc’h post!
6:51          I think these authors are holding out on me when I ask about their initial reactions to their covers.
7:25         I’m biased here, but JP is one of my favorite movies. Top ten, easy.
8:30        ”The book designer’s responsibility is three-fold: to the reader, to the publisher, and most of all to the author.”
9:10         Admittedly, this cover has always caught my eye, but I’d never thought to de-pants it.
10:15       I love the practice of typography in denial. This is why Dry is one of my favorites.
10:40      I love the airport lady story. I’ve read it more than once and enjoyed Chip talking about it, too.
11:23       “A book cover is…the haiku of the story.”
12:02      ”Once a book designer has read the text, then he has to be an interpreter and a translator.”
14:12      1Q84! 1Q84! 1Q84!

It’s on my bucket list to meet Chip Kidd, one of these days.

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10 thoughts on “on chip kidd’s TED talk

  1. What a character! I love his little move – I call it a squiggle.

    I love the 1Q84 cover! I bought that one for my hubby for his birthday last year – haven’t read it myself yet.

    re: Naked – I have the paperback which is just the shorts – i.e. no disrobing available – makes the cover a whole lot more interesting when it’s participatory! (also, whenever I take a jacket off a book, I feel like I’m looking under its skirt a little bit – what a perv right? – so the literal disrobing to me is perfect)

    • I think “squiggle” is the perfect name for that move.

      Participatory jackets are the best, aren’t they? And disrobing jackets is totally not pervy. I liken it to discovering treasure! ;)

  2. BOOKMARKING THE VIDEO! Love love Chip Kidd. Also, I’m so curious about what he says about IQ84. I actually disliked the cover at first but once I got an actual copy, I fell in love. Unfortunately, I still haven’t finished the book yet even though Haruki Murakami is my fav author.

    • There’s really something different about seeing a book cover IRL versus online, eh? And holla fellow Chip Kidd fan!

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  4. *needs to sleep*
    *needs to watch this ridiculously awesome-looking TED talk that is about books*

  5. I met his at BEA this past year and had to splurge by telling him how big of a fan I am of his work and how I want to do exactly what he is doing in the publishing world then gave him my design card. Then he told me to come to his signing at Midtown Comics in NYC that night and we did and got to talk some more and it was just so awesome. My dream internship would be with him. Ahh one can dream!

    • Chip Kidd fandom is totally welcome here on the blog, Jeremy! And that is awesome that you got to meet him and talk shop with him! Wow, what a dream come true. I really hope an internship works out for you!

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