More than a decade after the first, the second volume of art and anecdotes from one of the foremost book-jacket designers in contemporary publishing.
Those with an extensive library will already have plenty of these works of art on their shelves: the dust covers on novels by Haruki Murakami, Cormac McCarthy, Jay McInerney, Michael Chabon, and so many others. Yet, collected in their own book, these designs show just how prolific and eclectic Kidd has been. He has also used his publishing experience as a springboard for his own career as a novelist (The Learners, 2008, etc.), with his writing often showing the same inventive flair as his design. The authors with whom he works sense a kindred spirit as well. Murakami praises his “boundlessly inventive ideas, the out-of-the-box perspective, the sly sense of humor, the carefully calculated anachronisms, the occasional glimpse of the lyrical.” Neil Gaiman writes, “he broke every rule in publishing…including some that the publishers didn’t realize were rules until Chip did it differently.” Kidd’s art often doesn’t submit to the rectangular format of the book jacket or serve as a representational depiction of the subject or author. Instead, his playful creativity seems to reflect something deeper. This collection also shows how his design assignments extend beyond his employment at Knopf, with Rolling Stone and Newsweek commissioning magazine covers and Paul Simon enlisting his services for a CD booklet. Where album covers once drew attention to visual artistry, CDs shrank that art to the point where it became less noticeable, and streaming has all but eliminated any attention to album art at all. Will book design suffer the same fate in the move to e-books? In the self-interview that opens the collection, Kidd addresses changes in publishing and how those might affect his approach to his work. Not at all, he insists, for while publishing is always changing, the hard copy of a book has shown its staying power.
As for his own work, it is also constantly changing, as reflected in this vibrant decadelong retrospective, but it has most certainly endured.