Chip Kidd Papers, 1966-2013

9528

Collection Overview

Title:
Chip Kidd Papers
Dates (Inclusive):
1966-2013
Creator:
Kidd, Chip
Abstract:
This collection documents the life and career of contemporary author and graphic designer Chip Kidd. The wide variety of material includes book jackets and published designs, original art, manuscripts, works in progress, business files, correspondence, memorabilia, scrapbooks, student portfolios, type catalogs, vintage print ephemera, comic books, and a large reference library.
Collection Number:
9528
Size:
186 Linear Feet
Size:
229 Boxes
Location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the  library catalog.
Repository:
Special Collections Library. Pennsylvania State University.
Languages:
English

Biographical Note

Chip Kidd is a distinguished author, editor, graphic designer, and 1986 alumnus of The Pennsylvania State University. Best known as a designer of book covers and dust jackets, he is a prolific writer as well, with two acclaimed novels, original comics, several anthologies of comic art, and other non-fiction works to his credit. Kidd's accomplishments have earned numerous recognitions, including the 2007 Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Museum National Design Award and the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Medal for lifetime achievement in 2014.

Born September 12, 1964, Charles Iacone Kidd is the younger son of Cornelia Ann Iacone and Thomas Iden Kidd. Known professionally by his childhood nickname "Chip," Kidd grew up in the suburbs of Reading, Pennsylvania, watching the classic Batman TV series and reading Silver Age comic books. He encountered graphic design at Penn State where he studied with renowned designer Lanny Sommese, experience Kidd later fictionalized for his first novel, The Cheese Monkeys. After college, Kidd moved to New York City and found work at publishing house Alfred A. Knopf. He has remained at Knopf since 1986. Now an associate art director, he also oversees graphic novel projects for Pantheon (another imprint of the Knopf publishing group), and maintains a large portfolio of freelance design work.

In 2013, Kidd married his long-term partner J. D. McClatchy, the poet, librettist, and editor of The Yale Review. They live in New York City and Connecticut.

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Collection Overview

This large and heterogeneous collection provides a remarkably complete overview of Kidd's life and career to date. It is clear from the present material that Kidd tends to keep everything he makes or collects, and that he has been an avid collector and prolific creator since early childhood. Researchers interested in Kidd's creative process or stylistic development should find plenty of material to support critical analyses: there are portfolios from Penn State, early freelance projects, rejected proposals, book covers and full publication designs in every state between sketch and print, as well as works in other media.

Beyond a study of graphic design or Kidd himself, the archives may also facilitate research on related topics, such as the history of Knopf, the American publishing industry more broadly, or select contemporary literary figures. Kidd's wide network of collaborators includes a number of authors, editors, illustrators, and designers who are eminent in their fields, and the nature of their correspondence may be both personal and professional.

Kidd's personal library (though not yet cataloged) is a potentially rich source of contextual information, encompassing a range of eclectic genres: mainstream and small press comics; popular literature and fine editions; books and magazines on photography, illustration, design, and typography; auction catalogs, toys and all variety of Batman memorabilia.

The time period covered in the collection means that both analog and digital formats are present, but it is not simply that one supersedes the other at a given date. Kidd's design process often involves both physical and digital iterations of the same project. Digital materials in this collection, like the analog, include published and unpublished images, text, audio, video, and other data formats stored on a range of devices and computer drives.

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Arrangement Note

The arrangement of this collection should be considered in relation to the fact that description is ongoing. A large amount of material has not yet been processed, including: business records, correspondence, literary manuscripts, clippings, collected art, and Kidd's personal library of comic books and reference works. Additionally, Kidd has retained portions of his archives as he continues to produce work as a professional designer.

The first several series of the collection contain artifacts of Kidd's graphic design work for the book publishing industry: primarily book covers and jackets as well as interior publication and text design. These series are further subdivided by format or production state. Descriptions of each subsequent level of arrangement will be found below within the collection inventory.

Arrangement Outline

  1. Series I: Book, cover, and jacket designs (published)
  2. Subseries 1. Covers and jackets
  3. Subseries 2. Books – cover and/or jacket design
  4. Subseries 3. Books – full and/or interior publication design
  5. Subseries 4. Books – authored and designed
  6. Subseries 5. Comic books – logo and title design
  7. Series II: Book, cover, and jacket design processes
  8. Subseries 1. Covers and jackets (original art and sources)
  9. Subseries 2. Book cover prototypes
  10. Subseries 3. Publication and text design
  11. Subseries 4. Authored, edited, or comic projects
  12. Subseries 5. Novel manuscripts
  13. Series III: Other designs
  14. Subseries 1. Book promotion, catalogs, and publishers
  15. Subseries 2. Editorial design and illustration
  16. Subseries 3. Identities, logos, and commercial projects
  17. Subseries 4. Posters, music, events
  18. Subseries 5. Objects (3D)
  19. Subseries 6. Unprocessed boxes
  20. Series IV: Student work and early career
  21. Series V: Papers (unprocessed archives)
  22. Series VI: Print library and reference collection

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Chip Kidd Papers, RBM 9528, Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University.

Acquisition Information

The collection was acquired from Chip Kidd in 2012. (Items post-dated 2013 likely reflect the expected date of publication.)

Processing Information

Unless otherwise noted, the collection's arrangement was imposed during processing, given the absence of original order and the significant rehousing required due to the variation in material formats and sizes. Excessive duplicate copies of print items have been weeded.

Processed by Alyssa Carver 2014-2017.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Kidd, Chip

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Collection Inventory

Click associated checkboxes to select items to request. When you have finished, click the Submit Request button.

Scope and Contents

This series includes print materials designed by Chip Kidd that were commercially published and distributed. Individually, the items are not necessarily rare, but collected together they enable the study of Kidd's entire body of work. There is no authoritative list like the one presented by this finding aid, and it would be difficult to compile such a list without access to the archives, since the names of book designers aren't usually recorded in the catalogs of libraries or publishers, dust jackets are easily separated from their books, cover designs vary between editions, and many libraries replace decorative covers with plain bindings. The inventory below, therefore, is described at nearly item-level detail.

Though Kidd's design career spans several genres, book packaging makes up the largest category of creative output and has earned him the most recognition. The number of published covers here is somewhere above one thousand, but it's difficult to claim an exact number. If a cover design is tweaked slightly between two editions of the same book, should that count as two designs? If Kidd develops the overall concept for a series, designing only a few titles himself, do the subsequent covers (designed by others) "count" as his? Considering these possibilities and variations, the archivist has chosen simply to organize all book-related material alphabetically by author or editor, then title. This helps maintain the intellectual connections between a first-edition dust jacket and subsequent paperback cover and collocates any aesthetically similar group of titles by a single author. No particular note is made of specific publishing seasons or the difference between Knopf and freelance clients. This type of information will instead be found in the business records.

Scope and Contents

This series contains published covers and jackets designed by Chip Kidd, separated into size-appropriate housing and arranged alphabetically by author and/or title: standard A-Z first, followed by oversized A-Z, with extra-large items last. Items in the smaller folders may include folded or trimmed versions of the oversized covers, possibly altered for exhibition or in order to be photographed. Most of the oversized items are flat, uncreased hardcover dust jackets that were never wrapped around a book and sold commercially.

3 manuscript boxes, 3 flat boxes, 1 XL oversize folder.

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