Print Picks: Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design
by Taylor Slattery | April 3, 2021
For kids, design is fun. With nothing to prove, they make moves without any hesitation, letting only intuition and a sense of play guide their decision making. Never overthinking any one move, just placing things where they feel and never pausing long enough to question their decisions. They have yet to develop the inhibitions that prevent most adults from creating just as freely. At what age do self-criticism, doubt, and fear of the blank page begin to creep in? Perhaps it happens the moment someone notices our aptitude and informs us of its existence that we allow part of our identity to be attached to the things we create. Suddenly, something is at stake, and we feel the presence of a pressure that was previously absent.
In the world of adults, we take the fun of design and needlessly smother it with complexity and theory. What was once fun becomes an object of stress. Gone are the spontaneity and courage of our younger selves and in their place are self-doubt and insecurity. And it shows. The sterile landscape of over-referenced, uninspired minimalism that occupies the mainstream web today says it all. In the pursuit of refinement, we often lose sight of the qualities that inspired us in the first place.
Is it possible to recapture that pure, creative fearlessness we possessed in childhood? Perhaps if we can learn to see through the eyes of a kid again, we just might be able to. Or at least the second best thing, the eyes of a Kidd. A Chip Kidd, to be precise.
I can say with confidence that Chip Kidd has fun designing. I can do so not because I’ve had the opportunity to meet him, but simply because I’ve seen his work. Over the course of his lengthy career as a graphic designer, Chipp has managed to successfully traverse a wide variety of projects while not allowing himself to be pigeonholed by any single style or genre. His imagery goes where it pleases, united only by the clever, playful energy found throughout.
Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design, is one of the books for which Kidd played the role not only of its graphic designer, but as its Author as well. The book was intended for teaching graphic design to kids, and as such, is meant as more of an introductory text than anything comprehensive.
But for kids and adults alike, Kidd’s simple manner of teaching by example is sure to leave the reader feeling excited to design. The book explores form, typography, content, and concept. Rather than providing hard rules, Kidd simply makes the reader aware of the myriad options at their disposal. Contrast within concepts like scale, complexity, and abstraction are presented through paired images serving to highlight their inherent differences and the strengths of each approach.
For those who’ve studied design more seriously, the book serves as a gentle reminder of how fun and simple design can and should be. His approach is light and free of any heavy theory, making it something easy to reach for when you’re in a rut and looking for some quick inspiration. In professional and academic settings, we tend to focus on the role of graphic design as a solution to a problem, while forgetting that in its purest form, graphic design is about play. Go successfully captures that childlike curiosity and creative energy that got so many of us interested in design in the first place. It’s sure to reignite that sense of play in you too.
Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.