June 13, 2023
Summer is a great time to meet the people at the University of Arizona Press who turn book dreams into reality. We are a small but mighty team.
Today, we feature our Art Director, Leigh McDonald.
Hello Leigh, what do you do for the Press?
I’m the Art Director, working within the Editing, Design, and Production department to produce great books! I am in charge of all the cover designs and interior art for UA Press titles, as well as some of the interior design and typesetting (and I sometimes put my marketing hat on as well).
How long have you been at UAP?
A long time now! I started at UAP in 2006 as the Marketing Assistant and Exhibits manager, after some previous years spent working in commercial publishing as a manuscript editor. After joining the Press, I discovered an untapped passion for book design and production, and worked my way into the Art Director role over the next few years.
What do you like most about working here?
I love working with a small, passionate, engaged team who really care about the books we produce. And I love that we get to learn a little bit about all the amazing scholarship and creativity in the areas we publish—our authors keep us learning and growing as we use our skills to help their work reach its audience. It is always a dynamic job, never boring!
What would people be surprised to learn about your work?
Most of it, probably. I think publishing is one of those fields hidden in plain sight—everyone knows and loves the end product, but the work that goes into creating that great book and getting it into your hands is mostly unseen. One thing people ask me about quite often is the cover design process—who chooses the art and decides on the final version? How does that work? The truth is, projects vary widely and there is no simple answer to that question. I really enjoy the process, though, and work to ensure that every book has a cover that fits the content inside and helps it to reach its widest possible audience.
What is something you like to do in your free time to relax?
My day to day free time is mostly spent with my family enjoying great food, playing games, reading, or practicing capoeira. My greatest and most relaxing joy, though, is when we are able to get out camping in the wilderness and immerse ourselves in the natural world. The Southwest has so many wonderful places to explore and discover–any time I get to focus on getting out there and being present in this incredible environment we share is a gift.