Interview: Intelligent designer Ingrid Paulson

Ingrid designed the covers for my second and third books. Love her work. Great to see her branching out into publishing.

ALU: There are so many well-known and well-loved classic novels out there. How do you decide which books to bring back to life with a fresh design?
IP: I didn’t go to university to study literature (I went to art college instead), so sometimes I feel at a disadvantage. I read a lot, and since I was young I’ve been reading as many classic novels as I could find. So I started with books I know and love, and then expand my own horizons by listening to colleagues, friends, and bookstores when they suggest certain titles. In Canada we are in the midst of a huge conversation about inclusion, colonialism, race, gender, ability… and the classic canon is overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male. As a white woman, I can spot the sexism, but I know that I may not easily see how a book’s story arc works to uphold damaging notions of supremacy and exclusion. I’m learning all the time, perhaps even second-guessing some choices (Kate Chopin’s The Awakening comes to mind – it’s such a beautiful, amazing feminist novel, but the depiction of African-Americans makes me pause, and at this point in time I don’t feel I’m the one who can make that call publishing it). I know I have blind spots and I’m trying to keep that in mind. In the end, I’m trying to find those novels that still appeal to a contemporary audience without having to apologize for antiquated, damaging, ignorant ideas. 

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