Art + Design

Q+A with Our Design Fellows

Big news for graphic design students and recent grads—we’ve extended the application deadline for our next Design Fellowship cycle until October 30th!

For those of you who are curious about what it’s like to be a Chronicle Books Design Fellow, I got in touch with some of our alums from the past 5 years and asked them to answer a few questions about their experiences in the program: 

Books that the Design Fellows worked on

Q. What was your favorite project completed during your fellowship? 

For Lisa Schneller, it was “Double Happiness, because it was the first picture book I ever worked on at Chronicle. I have such fond memories of the picture books I read when I was little. It was exciting to think that a book I was working on could touch children in that same way.” Lisa is now a designer at Peaceable Kingdom.

Lydia Nichols, now a Doodler at Google, says “Missing Socks Matching Game. It was a treat to put my illustration skills to use, especially for such a fun and clever game.”

Lauren Smith writes “Fish Finelli: Seagulls Don’t Eat Pickles was my favorite project because I was able to art direct and design something that was implemented into a series of books to follow.” Lauren is still designing books, working at The University of Chicago Press.

Books our Design Fellows worked on

Agnes Lee, who now works at Facebook, said her favorite project was “…typesetting Paul Rand’s Thoughts on Design because I got to dissect the book and build it back up from the ground up. It’s not everyday you get to learn about the skeleton of a book’s design and the process was also a very fun and new way to read a book.”

Dinah Fried loved “designing the Jealous Curator’s book Creative Block, because I worked on the project inside and out and from start to finish—from concept to final mechanical.” Dinah now has her own design studio in New York called Small Stuff.


Q. What was the best day of your fellowship? 

For Amanda Sim, now a Senior Designer at IDEO, “the best day was the meeting where I presented covers for 52 Changes for the Mind because I spent a while working through options and ideas with (Senior Designer) Allison Weiner and struggled with a strong concept. I was able to finally land on a couple of ideas I liked and the group unanimously agreed on my top pick. Whew! Validation!”

Ben Kither writes “The best day of my fellowship was seeing the Fantastic Cities book come in from the printer because I’d spent a lot of time working with (Senior Designer) Neil Egan on the cover. I hadn’t realized how big the projected sales had been when starting on the cover designs and it became a big title (for me at least). I went home and Instagrammed a cheesy picture of myself and the book, as though I was a proud new father.” Ben is now freelancing for a variety of clients, including us!

We take Halloween very seriously at Chronicle, and many of our Summer/Fall fellowship alums said it was their favorite day. Alex Styc remembers how “the whole office turns into a halloween funhouse extravaganza, it’s really fantastic!” Candy Gangs and PacMan Ghosts were two fellow groups from Halloweens past:

Candy Gang Halloween Pac Man Costumers on Halloween

For the Winter/Spring fellows, many said their favorite day was the annual company Volunteer Day. Marina Sauri remembers that “it was so much fun just to see the whole company cleaning up the zoo.” Marina is now back in her native Spain, running her own web startup, AllergyChef.

Design Fellows at the Zoo


Q. What’s one valuable thing that you learned during your fellowship?

Theresa Decker said, “it was the importance of having a mentor, caring coworkers, and a positive work environment.” She’s now working at P’unk Avenue in Philadelphia.

Now a designer for Princeton Architectural Press, Mia Johnson writes, “One valuable thing I learned during my fellowship was just how far incorporating thoughtful feedback can push your work. Comparing my first and final drafts at the end of a project, you might never know the same person made them! I think I owe much of that to the input I got from the other designers throughout the process.”

Nami Kurita said she learned that “no matter how I felt lost and stuck in the design process, there are always solutions. Chronicle Books Show and Tell (our weekly design critique) taught me when a group of designers gather together, there are no design problems we can’t solve. Just having that confidence of ‘everything will be ok! I’m not alone!’ helped me move forward.” Nami is now designing books at Ten Speed Press.

Micah Rivera learned how seriously we take office pranks at Chronicle. “It’s best to keep pranks to yourself for the first few weeks in a new office, I learned this the hard way, and found a little mischief in the first week when a new coworker ‘decorated’ my desk (like the ENTIRE thing) with the face of Professor Snape. It took a while to convince everyone else that I wasn’t a HUGE Harry Potter fan boy.” Micah is now a designer on the Brand team at fuseproject.

Thanks for the answers to my questions. It was so much fun to catch up with everyone! Design jobs may come and go, but as Micah reminds us on a gorgeously lettered plaque, “Just remember, fellowship lasts forever!” Also, you guys are the shit! 🙂


Learn more about the Fellowship program and apply here.

Emily Dubin
Senior Designer
Class of ’10 Fellowship Alum

Emily Dubin

Emily Dubin

Senior Designer at Chronicle Books, collector of magazines, watches, and vintage ephemera. See more of her work at
Emily Dubin


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