Note: I borrowed this book from the library (and plan to buy our own copy soon), and all thoughts on it are my own.
I saw Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design, by graphic designer Chip Kidd, sitting on the librarian’s desk, and I couldn’t resist it. The cover looks so inviting, which is Kidd’s point right from the start. Right inside the front cover, he addresses the fact that the reader decided to open the book. Why? “Whether you realize it or not,” he says, “most of the decisions you make, every day, are by design.” The rest of the book seeks to explain what Kidd means by that statement.
The book is a straight-forward, informative introduction to the concepts of graphic design, with chapters covering form, typography, content, and concept. Kidd’s writing style is inviting and clear, and he takes things step by step. This is marketed as a kid’s book, but I’d recommend it for adults, too. We all use design every day, whether we know it or not, in big ways (in designing our blogs, for example) and small. I’m betting that even if you can’t list out the principles of design, you know bad graphic design when you see it. I’ve clicked away from websites, never to return, because I couldn’t cut through the bad design to get to the content.
The flip side of understanding graphic design is understanding how you are affected—manipulated, even—by it. Kidd discusses that, too. The book is full of examples pulled out of real life; many excellent discussion starters can be found here.
Of course, lots of overlap is found between fine art and graphic design. The chapter on form discusses scale, positioning, focus, orientation, light and dark, repetition and pattern, symmetry, asymmetry, color theory, abstraction, and more principles that are useful in approaching any sort of artwork or design. This book covers an impressive amount of material, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
The final chapter contains ten graphic design project ideas—not crafts, as Kidd takes pains to explain: “There’s no ‘one way’ to do these. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers. As such, I can’t give you a step-by-step kind of approach because, well, that’s just not what design is all about.” That’s my sort of project. This is my sort of author and book.
You can find out more about Kidd and the book at gothebook.com. I’ll be getting our own copy to add to our library of technique and idea books.