The Kidd is alright

I picked up a copy of Chip Kidd’s book at my local library.
What the Brain Pickings article says about it, that it “refus[es] to talk down to them or confine their inborn curiosity to narrow adult expectations about what ‘writing for children’ should be like” is spot on. I feel like I should tell the UMW library to get a copy and put it on course reserve for ds106, because it’s to the point and accessible to non-designers.

The front and back covers are beautiful examples of how design has meaning. The red octogon and the green circle mean stop and go, which he highlights by switching the instructions. We also see typography going on on the back, with the period emphasizing “stop” and carefully kerned to fit under the “P.”

I like this page near the beginning of the book. It’s a thoughtful message, expressed simply. Or should I say subtly? The size of the type, and the typefaces used, are not random. The letters are carefully spaced to form a justified block of text. The final sentence is centered, forming an elongated oval, making the whole page a squat exclamation point. The change in typeface, color and capitalization, brings special emphasis to the point. The eye jumps to it immediately, so you have it in mind as you read the text from the beginning.

Here are a series of pages discussing scale. We see the same kind of meaning-inversion Kidd used on the cover repeated at the top of the first page. The color of the headline type carries through to the background of the second page. The second page uses blank space to emphasize the smallness of the image. If there were a lot of text on the page, we might feel like the image was as big as it could be, but as it is, we know otherwise. when the page is turned, it fills the page, in stark contrast. On the final page, the image returns to the same size and place as before, dwarfed again by blank space and the type above.

Subconsciously, colors have meaning to us. Some come from the natural environment, some come from cultural tradition, and some from personal experience. In design, we need to consciously think about the meanings. Everything is a choice, made to achieve a desired goal. We should be able to articulate why we made our choices and what they do for our design. Why that color? Why that font? Because all these details communicate meaning.

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