”The whole concept of being a ‘celebrity’ book designer is completely insane, a total oxymoron,” says Chip Kidd (left), arguably the most famous book-jacket designer ever. ”It’s like being the world’s most famous plumber or something.” Nevertheless, the Knopf graphic artist’s roughly 1,500 covers — most notably 1990’s ”Jurassic Park,” whose iconographic ”T. rex” was later recycled on the movie poster — are being celebrated in Chip Kidd (Yale University Press, $19.95), a monograph devoted to selections from 17 years of work. Here, Kidd explains five of his faves.
— Gregory Kirschling
The Abomination Paul Golding (2000) Kidd loves breaking a cover up into two horizontal panels: ”I’m constantly aping this look — there’s something very primal about a horizon line. But yeah, it’s one cliche I do fall into.”
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami (1997) ”We bought this bird at a store on Melrose [Ave. in Los Angeles]. A great antique — it was the last one. Usually, though, I try not to be so literal with the titles and the images.”
Seeing Voices Oliver Sacks (1999) ”I went through all of Sacks’ files at his office. This artwork is from the case studies he talks about inside. His name on the jacket is from his ID tag when he was at that particular hospital.”
Disclosure Michael Crichton (1994) ”That a commercial No. 1 best-selling book could have this kind of subtlety to it, where the type takes up less than 20 percent of the front — it’s not like big, big, giant, giant — was just really pleasing.”
Glamorama Bret Easton Ellis (1999) ”The legal department figured it out: It’s fair use [to show celeb photos through the hole-punched jacket] as long as their names appear in the book. So we didn’t have to get Keanu to sign off.”