The Written Image: Chip Kidd

Who says you can’t judge a book by its cover? These images are taken from a new collection of graphic art by Chip Kidd, an associate art director at Knopf, who has designed nearly eight hundred book jackets for the publishing house during the last twenty years. Kidd used the illustrations (left) as source material for a jacket collage for The Elephant Vanishes (upper right), a novel by Haruki Murakami, published by Knopf in 1993.

He modified parts of that design for a Portuguese translation of a novel by E.L. Doctorow (lower right), for the Brazilian publisher Companhia das Letras. Chip Kidd: Book One, published this month by Universe Publishing, has commentary by Kidd and appreciations from forty authors whose books he has worked on, including Martin Amis, Don DeLillo, Gish Jen, David Rakoff, David Sedaris, and Donna Tartt. In his introduction to the book, John Updike, many of whose books were designed by Kidd, writes, “In a field…where edge, zip, and instant impact are sine qua non, Kidd is second to none, and singular in the complexity of the comment his book jackets sometimes deliver upon the text they enwrap.”