“Bookbinding Dojo” with Chip Kidd

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.

Chip Kidd at Rainy Day Bookstore

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.

Chip Kidd at Rainy Day Bookstore

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.

Chip Kidd at Rainy Day Bookstore

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”).

Chip Kidd at Rainy Day Bookstore

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.

Chip Kidd at Rainy Day Bookstore

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.

4 thoughts on ““Bookbinding Dojo” with Chip Kidd

    • Yeah – I loved his attitude toward book cover designing. He tackle it with his 100% as a designer and does great job, but that’s simply it. Something about the simplicity really inspired me.

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  2. Nice photos and interesting report. I see it was a quite nice meeting there. Cover certainly is not the most important part of the book but if the cover is good it stay in mind for a long time.

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