Metaphor and Cliche

May 15, 2009 at 7:18 am (Uncategorized)


I have chosen this image to represent both a cliche and a metaphor.  As I searched for an image to post for metaphor this one popped up.  However, it is so common I  feel that it can also serve as an example of a cliche.


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Chip Kidd Book Jacket Designer Extraordinaire

May 15, 2009 at 4:33 am (Uncategorized)

Chip Kidd Interview Here

The Learners Book Cover

(note: in text citation format changed when posted onto blog)

As a young boy Chip Kidd, like many men of a certain age, enjoyed reading comic books, Batman especially.  He went on to study at Penn State where he learned under Lanny Somese.  At age 21 he became a junior design assistant5 to art director Sara Eisenman at Knopf publishing group.  Today he is associate art director for the same group.  (sentence here).  These three facts contribute greatly to the style of work Kidd has developed.  One can see his comic book influence as well as his utilization of what he learned under Somese in much of his work.

As a child he was attracted to the bright colors, bold lettering and overall design of comic books.2  If one examines Kidd’s early works one can see the comic book influence.  At that time Kidd mainly  “gravitated toward typographical solutions” 6 he had not yet found his niche.  Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love and William Boyd’s Brazzaville Beach are a few examples of Kidd’s typographical pieces.  The choice of color for each of the books, orange for Geek Love and yellow and red for Brazzaville Beach, grabs the attention of the bookstore peruser.  They are bright and bold, not to mention, the yellow and red are reminiscent of Robin’s uniform (Robin of Batman and Robin).  His choice of typeface is simple, much like the writing found in comic books, and it also “evoke[s] the mood, the style or the subculture of the literary work…”6  Although Kidd has expanded beyond his nod-to-comic-book style, one can see its influence through out his work.  He has even found a way to come back to his roots working with graphic novelists and comic writers Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware and Frank Miller, to create their work.

In the beginning years of Kidd’s employment at Knopf it was purchased by New York Magazine, which brought in the now editor-and-chief Sonny Mehta along with Carol Carson, replacing Eisenman as art director.  Working under Mehta has afforded Kidd creative freedom in the workplace, including the ability to select the books he designs jackets for.6 As well as the ability to run a business out of his office at Knopf in exchange for working at Pantheon for free in some cases.6 It is likely, however, that he owes his raving success to Carol Carson.  She is responsible for introducing the idea of using photographs for book covers rather than illustrations, which was most common up until that time.  An obsession with photographs in her personal life felt it would bring the book out of fantasy and base it in reality.6

Kidd quickly adapted and in many ways surpassed Carson.  Many times Carson will choose an image that “complement[s] the book title.”6  Kidd, however, “tries to avoid the literal”1 “stretch[ing] the visual boundaries between word and visuals by choosing pictures that appear at first glance to be non sequiturs.”6  Kidd’s preference is to stay away from the literal, wanting to “engage the reader’s intelligence and imagination”16 challenging them to make the leap from “what they see to what they read.”6  Even when Kidd is literal, as he was with Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park when he chose the skeleton of a dinosaur and the mane and shoulder of a horse, rather than the entire horse, for Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses he stays away from the completely obvious.

It was in a class with Lanny Somese that Kidd first learned of what Somese termed the verbal/visual connection, which is often utilized by Kidd for his covers.  It is the idea that the verbal aspect of things can open up the visual part of it and vise versa, each contributing to the other’s ability to be understood.6 Paul Golding’s Abomination is an example of Kidd’s “ability to translate a book’s mood into an arresting image.”2 On the cover a cute, fluffy, toy bunny is flipped over, standing on its head.  The connection between the title and the image is not entirely clear until the contents of the book have been revealed and then the image fits.  It makes sense to have a stuffed animal, the symbol of childhood, flipped onto its head when the novel is about a homosexual boy growing up in an intolerant family.  Understanding the verbal/visual connection and adding his own brand of mischievous wit has enabled Kidd to be successful in his choices for designs.

With the addition of the photographic image into Kidd’s repertoire he became interested in collages for his covers.  He splits the cover into several rectangles inputting images into the rectangles.  He became known for his ability to “split his covers into two equal triangles”6 to create a best seller.  It cannot be helped but to mention that comic strips are often broken down into rectangles, something Kidd was no doubt aware of.  The purpose of the rectangle in comics is to allow the reader “to fill in the blanks between the seen and the unseen, the visible and the invisible.”6  One is to look at the cover and come away with knowledge about the book.6 Take for example Geoff Ryman’s Was, once one looks at the cover there can be little doubt about the content of the book.  A blue sky and the title occupies the upper rectangle, the lower third of the cover has four images, a tin man, a lion, a girl with a dog and a scarecrow these two rectangles are separated by a thin rectangular image of a wheat field.  The images of the five main characters of The Wizard of Oz have been changed and modernized, not even resembling the original characters; indeed only Dorothy’s arm and lap are visible but subject matter is clear.

The cover Kidd created for Richmond Lattimore’s translation of The New Testament is probably the most controversial cover he has created.  Splitting the cover into two rectangles with title and author in the upper rectangle while in the lower triangle he placed an image of a dead man; blood drying his face, only his eye looking right back at the viewer and a little of his face visible.  Kidd borrowed the image from Andres Serrano whose piece Piss Christ had already caused a stir in Christians everywhere.  Serrano’s involvement in the book prompted religious bookstores as well as national chain stores to reject carrying the book.4  Despite the failure to sell it became one of the covers Kidd is “most proud of.” 6  Most recently, probably because he has used every ordinary solution, Kidd’s covers have become more and more intricate.  Utilizing nearly every inch of the cover, as well as the spine.  He even has found a way to use the actual book to complete his design.  One of the most involved covers he has created is for his own book The Learners.  The cover is like a puzzle; depending on how you hold it you see different things, faces come together and new images are created.

It is difficult to pinpoint a primary theme running through out an artists work when the artist has admittedly tried everything “beautiful, ugly, mysterious, deadpan, monochromatic, complex simple, messy, tidy, busy, boring, interesting…” 3  However, there have been a few influences in Kidd’s life that have contributed to his personal style. His love of comic books, his education under Somese as well as the artistic freedom he receives at Knopf, without these influences it is possible that Kidd would just be another Joe on the street.

Work Cited

1.Blumberg, Jess.  “Q&A.” Smithsonian 38, no. 8 (2007) [journal online].  Accessed 26April 2009. Available from http://0-    beb2-c8aaca68fbac%40sessionmgr102&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=27195552.

2.Cox, Ana Marie.  “Chip Kidd cover boy.” Mother Jones 24, no 3 (1999) [journal online].  Accessed 25 April 2009.  Available from http://0- a955029c4b21%40sessionmgr109&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=9610011568#db=aph&AN=1816646.

3.Foer, J.S.  “The Kidd Stays in the Picture,” International Design 53, no. 3 (2006): 50-57.

4.Kidd, Chip.  Chip Kidd. Book One: Work 1986-2006. New York: Rizzoli, 2005.

5.Mayer, Andre.  “Hot Chip.  Chip Kidd: book designer, novelist, Renaissance man” CBC.CA (2008).  Accessed 25 April 2009.  Available from

6.Vienne, Veronique.  Chip Kidd.  New Have: Yale University Press, 2003.

Work Consulted

Burgoyne, Patrick.  “Cover Stories.”  Creative Review 25, no. 12 (2005) [journal online].
Accessed 25 April 2009. Available from

Helfand, Glen.  “Chip Kidd.” Advocate, no. 716 (1996) [journal online].  Accessed 25
April 2009. Available from

Minzesheimer, Bob.  “Chip Kidd, book cover designer, unmasked.”  (2003).  Accessed 25 April 2009.  Available from

Orecklin, Michelle.  “Chip Kidd.”  Time Style and Design 16, (2005) [journal online].  Accessed 25 April 2009.  Available from



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Color By Number

May 13, 2009 at 1:02 am (Uncategorized)


For the final project we were given the freedom to do anything we wanted. I decided to keep it simple. I was working on a reproduction of Degas’ Singer with Glove for another class when I decided I would trace the image off of my computer screen and try to create a color by numbers using a computer program (which I cannot remember the name of at this moment.  Mac’s answer to Paint)  I tried several different color schemes.  I tried to stick as close to the original colors, I tried electric and pastel colors.  My final product is a combination of both the original colors and a few interpretations of my own.  I had black lines outlining the entire drawing and by chance struck the mouse at the wrong moment which turned all my lines into the yellow-orange it is now.  At that point I finally became pleased and called it quits.  I have a few more half-starts on my travel drive, perhaps someday I shall complete them.

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Rooms of One’s Own

May 8, 2009 at 2:47 am (Uncategorized)


The idea behind this project was to take up as much space as possible. Originally, I believe, we were supposed to take up space on the internet and consider the idea of space and internet (its unlimitedness). We then decided to also bring that space into the physical world by occupying a large amount of wall space in the library.  As a class we designed as many rooms as we could using photoshop and the internet to create a collage inspired by Richard Hamilton’s Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? I enjoyed creating as well as seeing the work of the other students.  I was impressed by all the different outcomes and themes running through everyone’s work.

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Tastey Lights

April 17, 2009 at 1:23 am (Uncategorized)


Slideshow here

For my found and scanned objects I decided to use skittles my mother had sent to me in an easter basket.  I had high hopes for this project.  The idea was to create the movement of northern lights using skittles.  I did not have a well thought out plan of action.  I wanted the skittles to start out in one place and move to another and eventually move off the screen entirely.  I did not consider the affects of layers along with cut and pasting.  Instead of moving off the page the images grew and grew but really made and then abruptly come to an end.  I think the potential for this project is great but I need a little bit more experience with photoshop to take it to its full potential.  

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Library Poster

February 25, 2009 at 1:58 am (Uncategorized)


Even I am surprised at the outcome of my poster, it just kind of happened.  I found the image as I was searching for ideas.  I had tossed it to the side and started to develop another idea, but I kept coming back to it.  It was only after I decided on the image that I decided on the slogan.  I felt like it was appropriate for the picture.  It reminds me of a poster I would find in a library: ‘quiet imaginations at work’ or something of the sort.  However, it is not an image that says quiet, it doesn’t say poop either, but  as I brainstormed with my friends a series of one liners came forth and “Noise Please I’m Pooping” stayed with me.

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February 13, 2009 at 1:08 am (Uncategorized)


What makes an ad successful?  In order to determine success or failure, one must ask, what is the purpose of an ad to begin with?  An ad is used as a way to get information regarding any number of things to mass amounts of people.  Thus first and foremost a successful ad grabs the eye of who encounters it.  Secondary (simply because what is the purpose of an ad if no one sees it?) is the importance of conveying meaning. A clear picture of what is being advertised, either through images or words, contribute greatly to a successful ad.

A successful ad gets the attention of the eye and communicates something to the mind behind the eye; but in order to to this one must think of whom one is trying to reach.  A child’s mind sees and interprets information different from an adult’s, and a woman’s mind different from a man’s.  Using visual images and written word that appeals to a certain demographic often aid in the success of an ad.  Take for example any ad for the multitude of James Bond films, but specifically the poster for “You Only Live Twice.”  What is always shown?  The female form in various stages of undress as well as a man every man wants to be.  Created more than 40 years ago, even then the creators were in touch with the now popular and ever-present advertising strategy of using skin as a tool for selling, what better was there to get the attention of a man than a half-naked woman?  What better way is there now?

Visual intrigue, a well-communicated message and attention to target audience are the foundations of a successful ad.  Use of the elements and principles of design, specifically color, line, balance and point, allows the ad to convey exactly what it is supposed to. Using bold capital letters as well as the color red, while the rest of the colors used are subdued, brings our focus directly to the top.  Use of color is also important to consider when one looks at the picture.  The skin tone of Bond girls is almost the same as the bathing suits they are wearing.  This creates the illusion that the women have on no clothes at all.  Through balance and point one is able to pick up on what is important in the ad.  James is directly in the middle of the poster giving his famous raised eyebrow look back to the audience.  It is also balanced in a way that radiates to the middle.  The eyes and actions of the ladies all bring our focus to Bond.  The flow of water pouring from the buckets the women hold draws our attention once again to bond.  There eyes seem to all be looking at Bond, with but one exception.  The Bond girl on the far left of the page is looking out into the audience, but the line of her body still points to the center, once again moving our eye to James Bond.

The flow of the ad is pretty typical, it reads from top to bottom, left to right.   Beginning at the top with bold, red letters, we learn what is advertised.  Our eyes are then captured by the image below.  Our eyes follow the movement of the image.  Either we notice the woman on the left of the screen and follow her posture to Bond or we notice the woman on top with the long ponytail.  Although she is positioned to the right of center, her bucket and pouring water is centered and flows directly to Bond.  Once one is able to drag his eyes from the skin orgy, he moves his eyes down to the bottom third of the ad to catch the title of this amazing film.  Once again we have bold red letters that catch the viewers attention.  Finally, in tall, skinny, gray letters one is given the credits for the film; which are not to be a focus but an after thought.

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February 4, 2009 at 3:09 am (Assignments)

Assignment One

Kelley1620’s Blog ← Visit site

For the firt assignment of the semester I mainly experimented with different programs on my handy-mac.  I have further discovered that I am not computer savvy, or rather, I could say that I have yet to tap into my creativity using a computer as my medium; I prefer the latter.  From the start I was interested in using images off the internet but what kind and of what I was not sure.  I began with many ideas in my head but narrowed it down to a series of action shots that went together in some fashion.  I chose these photos for no particular reason other than the people were facing the same direction and they were all in different stages of completing the same action.  I added the blue bubbles to bring color and idea of water to the viewer.  

Creative Commons License
Wah-Wah by Kelley Gustave is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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Hello world!

January 30, 2009 at 3:51 am (Uncategorized)

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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