Meet Our 2019-2020 Design Fellows

Every year, Chronicle Books recruits talented designers to join our team and take part in our Design Fellowship program. In addition to working on our books and gift formats, the fellows participate in weekly design workshops hosted by the designers and editors of our publishing groups. After receiving an impressive group of applicants this year, we narrowed them down to four brilliant designers.

The fellows started only a few weeks ago, and they have already brought refreshing new energy and creativity into our studio. To get to know them better, I asked them a few questions. Meet our 2019-2020 cohort!

AJ Hansen, Books and Gifts Design Fellow:



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What were you doing before you got to Chronicle Books?

I am a recent graduate from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where I studied Graphic Design. I’m a Bay Area native, though, so I’m very excited to be back in San Francisco.

What are some things that inspire your design or excite you?

I find lots of inspiration from material explorations and I love using new production methods. Some of my favorite projects are things that I created myself and produced from start to finish.

What are some of your passions or hobbies?

As to be expected, I’m an avid reader, focusing primarily on fiction, although am just starting to break into comics. When I’m not reading or working, I eat a concerning amount of sweets and try to hike or run to balance things out.

Favorite Chronicle books?

Bibliophile by Jane Mount (because I’m a bibliophile)
My Neighbor Totoro Journal (because of the amazing plushy cover)
The Vintage Baker by Jessie Sheehan (because it’s pretty, pink, and has lovely tip-ins)

How would you describe your design?

My work is experiential, tactile, and gratuitously black and red.


Indya McGuffin, Children’s Books and Gifts Design Fellow:


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What were you doing before you got to Chronicle Books?

I recently graduated from Stanford University. While there, I had the opportunity to design a major focusing on the intersection of product design, traditional art practice, and business.

What are some things that inspire your design or excite you?

Chicago (my hometown), my creative and visionary friends (who often introduce me to new sources of inspiration), filmmaking, working with my hands, the Black aesthetic, books, and sneaker design.

What are some of your passions or hobbies?

Listening to music, traveling, eating (I am a very passionate beneficiary and fan of my mom’s cooking skills), supporting my friends who are fellow designers and entrepreneurs in their endeavors, and watching stand-up comedy. I really enjoy walking, and so I also often find myself walking until I find an adventure.

Favorite Chronicle book?

You Are New by Lucy Knisley

How would you describe your design?

Colorful, collaborative, gender and representation conscious, soulful, and culturally grounded.


Denise Kan, Brand Design Fellow:





What were you doing before you got to Chronicle Books?

I just graduated from California College of the Arts (CCA) with a BFA in Graphic Design. I was also freelancing at Elixir Design Studio and programming workshops at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

What are some things that inspire your design or excite you?

Some things that inspire me and excite me are film photography, whimsical stories, children’s storybooks and illustration, analog materials like fabrics and weird textures, nature, and the narratives of marginalized people and how design is a way to empower them.

What are some of your passions or hobbies?

My passions and hobbies are not limited to rock climbing, lugging my hammock to the closest beach or forest, going to shows, and playing pool. I also love discovering local book stores of course!

Favorite Chronicle books?

The Vintage Baker by Jessie Sheehan
It’s OK to Feel Things Deeply by Carissa Potter
Advice from My 80-Year-Old Self by Susan O’Malley

How would you describe your design?

I would describe my design as whimsical, experimental, borderline eclectic, but always out there and kind of zazzy. One of my professors once said I am a kitchen sink designer, meaning I never really go the minimal route, and I think that resonates with me.


Lieyah Dagen, Industrial Design Fellow:


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What were you doing before you got to Chronicle Books?

After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2018, I worked at Fyrn, a company that designs and manufactures furniture in SF. Right before I started at Chronicle, I helped design and build the stage for Burger Boogaloo, with my friends Spenser Atlas and Adam Miller.

What are some things that inspire your design or excite you?

In no particular order, I’m inspired by the work of Memphis Milano, Verner Panton, Wendell Castle, Pierre Cardin, Hussein Chalayan, Oskar Schlemmer, Issey Miyake, Misha Kahn, Zvi Hecker + Alfred Neuman, Andrea Zittel, Isamu Noguchi, and Denise Scott Brown + Robert Venturi. I also love children’s television sets and toys.

What are some of your passions or hobbies?

I share an interest in architecture with my parents, so we enjoy exploring both iconic and little-known buildings and homes together. Aside from that, I like taking photos, and working on design projects with my friend Spenser.

Favorite Chronicle book?

TouchThinkLearn: Wiggles by Claire Zucchelli-Romer
Girl Culture by Lauren Greenfield

How would you describe your design?

Playful, varied, and bright.

– – –

We’re excited to spend the year with AJ, Indya, Denise, and Lieyah and see what they create!

Learn more about Chronicle Books Design Fellowships here.

Sandy Frank

Sandy Frank is a Junior Designer on the Brand team at Chronicle Books. She has an extensive collection of candy from around the world on display at her desk.

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1 Comment

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