Thursday, February 12, 2015

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

I had to take a graphic design class for my journalism degree. I would have loved reading this book first. Not only is it a great introduction to the subject, but it backs up the information with beautiful visuals. I remember trying to study the tiny black and white images in my textbook at the University of Minnesota. Chip Kidd explains how graphic design is about solving problems. How it involves using content and form to create visuals that communicate messages. How content is what is being communicated while form is how it looks. How form is not only visuals, but typography. Confused? You won't be if you check out this book. It shows it much better than I'm saying it. If you want to learn or have to teach the basics about graphic design then I recommend this book.

Content is the most important aspect of graphic design and the form follows it. Form is how things look on the page. The author uses examples involving size, scale, inversion, placement, juxtaposition and more needed to design unique looks that impact not only the message, but give an emotional impact. His section on colors reveals how they create moods. I remember when Northwest airlines had these red, orange, and yellow colored seats that they found through surveys increased the anxiety of people that were afraid of flying. My dad is an architect and growing up he would always point out "good design and bad designs." He hated when faucets or showers had the hot and cold switched claiming it was bad design because it didn't comply with the norm.

This author points out designs in book covers which I have never thought of before in terms of graphic design. He uses his own examples of the many books he's designed and others. I liked his analysis of R. J. Palacio's book, "Wonder," a story of a boy whose face is horribly deformed. The design shows only part of a kid's face implying that the reader has to fill in the nose and mouth using his or her own imagination. I only recognized one of the author's book cover designs which was Michael Crighton's "Jurassic Park."

The content portion covers topics such as illusion, metaphor, visual flavor, and type design to convey topics. Content is the hardest part of graphic design. In his examples of designing book covers, he explains how he used the content of the book to convey a message. The form section I mentioned already, but there is another section devoted to typography. This shows how the first four letters of the alphabet changed from Phoenician to Greek to Roman to Latin to Modern English. He covers types of topography and what they convey to the audience. Sans-serif is a type of topography that is a bolder way to get a point across to readers; whereas, italics is used for emphasis. 

The end of the book has 10 projects for readers to do that are interested in graphic design. He has one page that is a collage of tickets from his trip to Japan. It made me realize how little I look at the visuals around me and think in terms of putting them together to create a piece of art. One of the projects is using typography to create a font specimen or your own logo. A good book for the creative soul.

4 Smileys

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