Chip Kidd: I’m obsessed with Batman

In an exclusive interview at AGI Open 2013, Chip Kidd tells us about designing book covers and his foray into comic books.
Posted 16 Oct 13 By Design Indaba Duration: 00:05:39 Graphic Design & Illustration Interviews / Video Interviews Comments

According to Time Out New York, “The history of book design can be split into two eras: before graphic designer Chip Kidd and after”.

In this exclusive interview at the 2013 AGI Open Conference in London, Kidd gave insight into the many book jackets he has designed as well as the various comic book projects he has worked on. One of his most famous works is the book jacket for Jurassic Park, which was subsequently reused for the film poster and all of its marketing collateral.

From a young age Kidd knew that designing book covers could have a profound and positive influence on a designer’s career: “Book covers are very important. If your design gets approved your name goes on it,” he says. Even though it’s not always an easy and smooth process, after 27 years Kidd still loves designing book covers as each provides a new and unique challenge.

Kidd confesses that he is obsessed with Batman and has worked on at least 12 book projects for the superhero. His talk at AGI Open was focussed on this obsession, and in particular on a rare Japanese comic book created about Batman and Robin, that Kidd has been working to bring to light. Next he is working on a similar project on Superman comics by the same Japanese artist.

One of Kidd's bigger projects involved gathering information and images of Batman toys from 1942 until 1996 to compile a coffee-table book highlighting this history. He has also written a Batman graphic novel, which adds to the legacy of the character. Kidd admits that it was not an easy challenge to come up with something that had never been done before to make this particular project stand out.

Book cover design is challenging. It’s about creating a piece of art in service to another piece of art, says Kidd.

Kidd gives further insight into the importance of book-cover design. “It’s all about getting people to notice a book and to wonder whether its worth their time to read or not,” he says.

His advice for aspiring book designers: always try to create something that will give a unique, interesting and visual identity to a piece of writing.