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Graphic Design USA Magazine

A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design

Chip Kidd, the incomparable book designer, was among those featured in GDUSA’s 51st Anniversary People To Watch magazine. During preparation, I had a chance to watch his near-legendary TED talk once again; to marvel at his ample gallery of book covers, largely for Knopf; and to read the latest book he has authored. It is called GO: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design.

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Needless to say I am not a kid, far from it, but I really enjoyed getting a fresh perspective on how to think about — and create — memorable graphic design. And though the tone is simple, the ideas are deep, his brief history of design useful, and his overview of game-changing graphic design projects is illuminating.

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I was especially drawn to this thought-provoking colloquy that comes early in the book:

“Okay, so just what is graphic design? The dull but correct answer is that graphic design is purposeful planning that uses any combination of forms, pictures, words, and meanings to achieve one’s goal. But that is boring.

The far more interesting answer is that graphic design is problem-solving (and sometimes making something really cool in the process). There are all kinds of problems to solve: good, bad, complicated, easy, annoying, fascinating, dull, life-threatening, mundane. There are problems that matter only to you and no one else, and problems that determine the fate of mankind. And some of them are truly unsolvable — but of course that doesn’t stop people from trying, and it shouldn’t. But the main thing to learn about graphic design problem-solving is that the best solution can usually be found in the best definition of the problem itself.”

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Mr. Kidd (pictured here as a kid) has a lot to say to young people — and to us all. I am especially pleased that he has joined our five decade old People To Watch family.

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