Chronicle Books Panel Discuss Value & Quality of Design


A recent panel, featuring guests from Chronicle Books, visited the School of Graphic Design at Academy of Art University. Photo by Bob Toy.

On Wednesday, March 7, the School of Graphic Design hosted a panel from San Francisco’s historic publishing house Chronicle Books at 79 New Montgomery for students to sit in, learn and get answers for a few burning questions. The panel consisted of Studio Manager Victoria Chao and designers Allison Weiner, Alice Seiler and Academy of Art University alumna Kayla Ferriera.

The panel spent over an hour discussing the history of the company (it was founded in 1967 during the Summer of Love in San Francisco), what it’s like to work at Chronicle, details of the yearlong Fellowship Program and some choice pieces of advice for assembling a publishing industry ready portfolio.

Chronicle Books is an independent book publisher that has been around for 50 years and specializes in art, food and lifestyle, entertainment and children’s books. The company also produces other fun products such as games, puzzles, finger puppets and much more, but the underlying commonality in all things Chronicle is their signature visual gift-quality production, which make it the perfect place for new designers looking to diversify their industry skill set. This philosophy transcends their work in just graphic design to include their work in industrial design, illustration and photography with the intent that each product feels a little bit like a present.

“We really value the look and feel of our books. We focus on having a gift quality and an object quality to all of our books,” said Chao. “We really value our design.”

Chronicle offers a yearlong Fellowship Program with four different tracks: Books and Gifts Graphic Design, Children’s Books and Gifts Graphic Design, Marketing Communications Design and Industrial/Product Design. In each, new designers will work very closely with members of full-time staff and have weekly seminars with the creative designer. The idea is to get new designers working closely with professionals in a collaborative environment as soon as possible. This type of hands on training grooms fellows for the tough work that comes with working in the design world.


Students taking part in some crowd participation during the evening's panel. Photo by Bob Toy.

“Your work will never be perfect,” said Ferriera. “Throw that perfectionism away and that’s okay. My manager, who was also my mentor, taught me a lot about book design. We have a great thing we do called show-and-tell. All the designers get together and we bring our work and get feedback from our coworkers. I usually hate showing my work if it’s not done, but for this on such a time crunch I needed to bring something for feedback. It was great to hear from them.”

Many students were impressed by the strong creative support and close mentorship available in the Fellowship Program. “It was amazing how there were so many resources and opportunities for students to [get] a chance to present their ideas,” said Paul Lubiankar, a B.F.A. graphic design student. “It shows that new designers are really able to learn in the fellowship and that Chronicle Books works very hard to train them.”

Ayca Kilicoglu, an M.A. graphic design student, who is passionate about entering the publishing industry, attributed part of the appeal of the fellowship to the variety of work present at Chronicle and the company’s commitment to its strong design philosophy. “They have so many different projects and those will teach you different design aspects and skills,” said Kilicoglu. “It pushes you to grow and learn more. I also think Chronicle keeps with design trends but they always make sure not to lose themselves.”

To learn more about the Chronicle Books Design Fellowship, please visit