From the Design Desk: Tschüss! Goodbye! Paalam Na! Adéu!

Six months are over in the blink of an eye, especially if one is as lucky as we are, spending our days doing what we love: creating designs for such a great publisher like Chronicle Books. Here we’re sharing a sneak preview of our recent projects and learnings.

Happy reading!

Jackie, Lydia, Marina, and Fee

What was your most memorable project?

To work on the Boo paper doll outfits was probably the most unexpected and surprising experience. I have never designed dog outfits before but now consider that as a potential new job :-).

Welcome to the Boo and Buddy fashion show!

I also worked on some CAT projects, and now I know more truck names in English than I do in German. I recognize an off-highway-truck, can describe a wheeled excavator, and know what a motor grader is used for. Who knows, this knowledge might come in handy one day…

I enjoyed working on the projects that we developed in Design Lab guided by Creative Director Michael Carabetta. To come up with ideas for new formats was really fun.

Another great opportunity was to create the fellowship poster that will be screen-printed.

This is the wall next to my desk with some projects I’ve been working on recently.

What is something you learned from or hadn’t expected about the fellowship?

Working as a freelancer in Germany in my little office, I am not used to talking a lot with other people during the design process. At Chronicle Books I realized how great it is to be part of a group of gifted designers, to get feedback from others when you get stuck with your work, or need a second opinion. The exchange of ideas and opinions really works here in the design department. I guess that’s part of the reason why Chronicle is creating such a strong list of titles that are immediately recognizable.

Another thing I didn’t expect was that we fellows would get along so well. I not only experienced six months of great work and learning, but also made new friends! How good is that?

Closing thoughts

I had a really good time in this company, guided by my great mentor Amy Achaibou. It was always fun and instructive to work with her and the children’s design team.

Coming from Germany and experiencing my very first stay in San Francisco, I didn’t expect this city to be so colorful. I love the houses and all the parks and the relaxed atmosphere. Now I am heading back to Germany to go on with my own business, but I will definitely come back to this great city and stay in touch with these great people!

Felicitas Horstschäfer (German)
Children’s Design Fellow

What is my favorite project?

It’s hard to pick just one project that was my favorite because they all have given me a chance to grow and put what I’ve learned into the next book. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to experiment with new technology and testing pieces of code to see if and how they work on various devices. The world of ebooks is evolving and establishing its own standards, and I’m glad I have had the chance to grow alongside it.

Other Goose was the first ebook I was able to do from start to finish. I used it to experiment with different code or ereader capabilities, and, as you can see, the iPad was not happy with my code. But, as I told my mentor, Holden Hardcastle, the important thing to take away is that I got the image to be full bleed—which was my intention after all. (Don’t worry, we didn’t send it to market like this.)

What is something you’ve learned?

One of the things I’ve learned during these past months is the importance of putting enough time and thought into the planning stages of your project. Taking this time to plan your actions and make considerations for each idea will allow you to focus on the creative solutions as you move forward.

Storyboarding our audio books—like Chloe, Instead. (And the first time I actually used the printer!)

Forget about goodbyes.

I was lucky enough to be asked to stay on for another fellowship term, so it’s hard to think about these six months coming to an end. They are just the beginning of six more months of unforgettable people, creative exploration, tons of code, and greater things to come.

Jackie Jakob (American)
Digital Fellow

What is my favorite project?

I’ve worked on a few titles in the past five months and each project has its own unique personality. I always look forward to the problem-solving aspect of the design process, but nothing beats the amount of creative play I’ve experienced with the projects assigned to me. I enjoyed working on all of them which makes it difficult to pick just one, so I chose the one that resonates most with my inner nerd: Geek Battle, a nerdy board game that’s coming out Fall 2012. Not only did I get to co-design this piece with Eisner Award Nominee, Michael Morris (a.k.a. office sweetheart), I also had the chance to work on something completely out of my comfort zone. The challenge was to design game pieces for the board game. We came up with the idea of creating characters that were visual amalgamations of all things geeky. The end result was a gang of four figures—an alien brainiac, a superstar hero, an elf wizard and a mutant robot. Creating them from scratch was an exciting challenge. We ended up using bits and pieces of random stock photography to create these four frankensteined characters.

What is something you’ve learned?

Working on multiple projects at the same time was the most challenging part for me. I learned how to manage my time more efficiently, acknowledged what was realistic for a project’s time constraints, and most importantly, I learned how to communicate my needs to the design team. Sometimes it was hard to turn down new and exciting projects in order to focus on the ones already on my plate. I learned to say “no” and to bite off only what I can chew. All in all, I learned to be a more efficient and proactive part of a team. (PS: Also, I learned that I am a lightweight when it comes to drinking, which I should have known before getting into the publishing world.)

Bye Bye Bye

I’m wrapping up the design fellowship feeling armed and confident. I’ve sharpened tools in my skillset I didn’t even know I had to begin with. The three other fellows with whom I spent 6 months worth of lunches, goofy times, and dance breaks have become my great friends, and it breaks my heart that the German one and the Catalan one will be leaving us soon. Wah! Wah! I have also been so fortunate to work with such a stellar cast of Chronicle Books designers who have been generous with their time and talent. Thanks a lot you guys! Next stop… Marketing Fellowship!!! To be continued…

Lydia Ortiz
Design Fellow (Filipina)

What is my favorite project?

My favorite project is So Pretty! Felt because I had the opportunity to experiment with typography and create a new language incorporating all of the different combinations with felt. I found myself most captivated using one material to express many different ideas. It was fun to learn how others use felt to create objects through stitching, which inspired me to explore the possibilities that one simple material has to offer.

What is something you’ve learned?

I’ve learned that sales matter. It is important to be able to create and produce a product that speaks to many individuals. It is not only about creativity and self-expression, it is about reaching out to the target audience and speaking their language.

Closing thoughts

Working at Chronicle has greatly expanded my skillset. Being able to work amongst talented design, production, marketing and sales teams has broadened my scope and helped me to think on a larger scale. I have appreciated the fact that Chronicle invests in seeking out international designers and welcomes the possibility of hiring the individuals best suited to the company.

Marina Sauri (Catalan)
Design Fellow

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