As a part of Tokyo International Literary Festival 2013, legendary book cover designer Chip Kidd gave a talk at Rainy Day Bookstore in Minami Aoyama.
It was a very intimate talk session with 40 people or so in a cozy space surrounded by books. Although book cover designing is not directly related to my current work, Chip’s personal history and work philosophy really inspired me.
At the beginning of the session, he spent some time talking about how Japanese culture (especially anime by Osamu Tezuka and other superhero shows) had a significant impact on him. He said he was influenced by their sensibility, design, and eccentricity.
10 years ago, he started working with Vertical, an American publisher that brought many Japanese book/manga titles to the U.S. He said one of the reasons that he agreed to work for them was that they were planning to publish Osamu Tezuka’s works.
I didn’t know one of Keigo Higashino’s famous books’ title is translated into my name – “Naoko.” The Japanese title is “Himitsu” (means “secret”).
He showcased several of his work, including this one – Ring by Koji Suzuki. Many of Chip’s work at Vertical use fancy materials and non-standard printing/cutting techniques that can be more costly, but I think the extra touch to each piece was necessary to achieve what he was trying to communicate – sensibility, design, and eccentricity of Japanese literature.
At the end of Q&A, he answered one question from the audience; “define a good book cover.” His answer was something like “it’s something that makes you want to pick up and read & own the book.” I think this simple answer reflects his work. He uses the power of design to affect people’s action while creating something beautiful.