In conversation with Naomi MacDougall



Naomi MacDougall is an award-winning book designer and is currently the Creative Director at Figure 1 Publishing. She has worked with several Canadian and International publishers and was previously the art director for Western Living and Vancouver magazines. Naomi lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia.

What does a day in the life as Creative Director at Figure 1 Publishing look like?

A full work day for me usually consists of jumping between several projects simultaneously. Everything from emailing authors, booking photographers, negotiating contracts, coordinating shoots, managing freelancers, team Zoom meetings, and of course designing books! We are a small team, so I handle all stages of the book design process from concept development with authors and editors, cover designs, interior designs, layout and corrections, through to pre-press file set up, reviewing proofs and selecting print finishings from the printer.

Miami Cooks by Sara Liss

How did you get into the industry? Did you always want to work in publishing?

I studied design at Emily Carr University in Vancouver and had no intention of getting into publishing. While in school my dad had written a book, an instructional book on screenprinting, and I decided to design it for him as part of a school project. My instructor Peter Cocking mentored me and ended up hiring me to work with him at D&M (Douglas & McIntyre/Greystone Books) where I worked closely under him for almost 7 years. He's an incredible designer and educator, and I was so lucky to receive a one-on-one mentorship with one of the best book designers in the country.

People Among the People by Robert D. Watt

What's been the most memorable cover design you've ever done?

Probably the most satisfying cover I've ever designed was for The Double Happiness Cookbook. My original concept came from collaging various images and elements I found online that I cobbled together to pitch the idea to the author and publisher. The elements were then photographed by the talented Suech & Beck in Toronto and the lettering hand rendered by illustrator Ben Frey. I then merged all the elements together which was superbly satisfying to assemble. I think the end result perfectly captures the energy of the chef and author, and I feel is a unique design for a cookbook cover.

The Double Happiness Cookbook by Trevor Lui

If you could recommend one book to my readers what would it be? 

Out North: An Archive of Queer Activism and Kinship in Canada is a stunning, interesting, and important book designed by the uber talented Jessica Sullivan

Are you reading anything at the moment? Any books you're hoping to get to in the coming months?

I just started Ablutions by Patrick deWitt. I've enjoyed all of his books and so far this one does not disappoint. I'm also a big fan of the cover art by Dan Stiles, one of my fave rock poster artists. Next up I have a stack of dog training books on my nightstand. I'm particularly intrigued to dig into the delightfully titled, The Other End of the Leash, by Patricia McConell.

Island Eats by Dawn Postnikoff and Joanne Sasvari

Stay up to date with Naomi's work by checking out her website and following her on Instagram.