Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design book review

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With Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design, leading book cover designer Chip Kidd has created a near-perfect primer to inspire an interest in graphic design in children and teenagers.

One of the biggest difficulties in getting children and teenagers into graphic design is explaining what it is, how it's more than just playing around with colours and fonts until you make something beautiful (or hideous). Chip Kidd's Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design, aims to explain the basic tenets of the craft of graphic design to those tween 10 and 16 – as well as inspire a lifelong love of the form and kickstart them into actually doing some.

As you'd expect considering what it's about and who it's by, this A4 book is designed to be easily understood, visually engaging and arranged perfectly for its target audience. Its graphic design is focussed on clarity and simplicity of what it's describing – and while the examples given are largely book covers, there's an appealing mix of graphic novel covers (including Chip's own) and popular teen novels (including RJ Palacio's Wonder (below), which my 14-year-old stepdaughter and many of her friends are reading currently) as well as more 'literary' works.

The techniques described in the book are led by example rather than theory, which is likely to appeal to the target audience more than starting from first principles. In each example it moves from explaining what others have done to how kids can do it themselves – which is a really effective way of engaging a readership who may be completely new to the subject beyond experience graphic design in the world around them. 

The book covers form, typography, content and concept for a surprisingly broad overview of the subject – and the finishes with a series of well thought out exercise briefs that are broad enough to allow kids to be creative while still giving clear direction.

There are only a few flaws to this book. The intro is occassionally overly wordy and might put off younger readers from perservering – and terms such as branding, typeset, and serif and sans-serif fonts are introduced before explanation. The section on juxtaposition is poorly written (or edited), as it makes it seem like the term refers only to a contrast between blurred and unblurred images.

These aside, this is one of best books available to introduce a creative child to graphic design – and a must-buy if a kid in your life is doing graphic design at school. It will do a brilliant job of inspiring them to explore the form and, you never know, they might grow to be graphic designer.

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