Thursday, April 24, 2014


Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd (2013)

Chip Kidd is the author of several books, but is known for designing the covers of many more than he has written. This graphic design primer is intended for kids and teenagers, but the clear text and visually appealing illustrations of various design principles is sure to appeal to people of all ages. Go isn't a book I would normally pick up, but grabbed a copy after hearing two of my coworkers enthusiastically recommend it.

Divided into just six sections, the book begins by introducing the idea of graphic design. Kidd points out that design is ubiquitous - every single thing you see around you was designed by someone, and every little detail of it is intentional. He then introduces himself and his work and includes a brief history of design.

The next four chapters each focus on one aspect of design: form, typography, content, and concept. Form, the longest chapter, includes everything from size and scale to patterning and color theory. Typography is all about typefaces, style, spacing, and even a little about the history of the written word. Content is about the purpose of the thing you're designing and how that informs its design. Concept bridges content and form, using techniques such as metaphor, illusion, or irony.

Finally, the last chapter invites the reader to try several different graphic design projects and submit results to Projects are as simple as collecting ephemera and combining them together for a design scrapbook, or as complicated as designing a logo to represent yourself. I can really see these projects as jumping-off points that would inspire the right kids to realize a love of design they might not otherwise know they had.

Not having any background in design at all, most of the content was new to me and I learned a lot. I know I've said it before, but I have to emphasize how much I like nonfiction for young people. There's no pretension, just information set out in a clear, understandable way. It's large size sets it apart as an artsy book, and indeed the many photos and illustration make Go a visual delight. I read the whole thing in one sitting, and I'd do it again. In fact, I just might.