Anjali Pala

Book Designer

Bachelor of Arts (Hons.), English and History, 2004

Every book is a puzzle. Every book has its own set of unique challenges and possibilities.

Anjali Pala stood in the National Gallery in Ottawa and stared. And compared. And made notes.

“We spent a lot of time with the paintings, examining them against our proofs,” she says. “We were surrounded by scribbled Post-its and Pantone chips.”

She and her colleagues were making sure that they could match as closely as possible the original Lawren Harris (Group of Seven) paintings with those in the images that would appear in the book they were designing.

“Harris’s use of colour is elusive and often unexpected. Traveling to see the paintings in person was essential to our understanding of the work and the book we were creating.”

The book accompanies a major Harris retrospective - an exhibit, surprisingly, curated by comedian and musician and Harris aficionado Steve Martin.

Anjali currently works for the design studio Miko McGinty, Inc. in Brooklyn, NY, collaborating with artists and curators, museums and publishers, to create art books that in some respects are like galleries themselves.

“We’re translating the artist’s work into a form that allows people to engage with the material on a more intimate level.”

Creating a deeper connection between the reader and the artwork is so much more than just reproducing images with exact colour matches.  Anjali has to consider the typography, the pacing of text and image, the paper and binding materials. She also considers the context in which the work was produced.

“We consider things from multiple dimensions,” she says, “… the historical, the cultural, the sociopolitical, the scientific … A lot of what we do requires us to view the work through different lenses.”

It is, to use a phrase common to King’s and her work, an interdisciplinary approach. And Anjali admits with a laugh that it is very much like when she was in the Foundation Year Program (FYP) at King’s. She remembers “being encouraged to view the world that way, to engage with the material and to look at it holistically.”

Anjali has designed books on a huge range of subjects - from ancient Buddhist sculpture to contemporary American architecture. She even designed one on personal time, on a personal topic. Anjali follows the Bahá’í Faith and along with friends created a book called nineteen days. It is a stunning collection of photographs and reflections inspired by the Bahá’í Fast, gleaned from the website (nineteendays.wordpress.com) that began in 2008.

Anjali’s path to book design took her from King’s and Dalhousie (English and art history), to an internship at the Guggenheim in Venice, Italy, to publishing work in Haifa, Israel, to grad school in Boston (master’s in publishing), to the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art and finally to Miko McGinty, Inc.; stepping stones to a career that combines her love of art with her love of books.  And later this year, Anjali will be awarded a prize at the New England Book Show for a book she designed for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

“I realized through all those experiences I was happiest when I was making books,” she says. “Every book is a puzzle. Every book has its own set of unique challenges and possibilities. It makes every project exciting and different.”

Posted: Apr. 2016

Alumni

Please let us know how your experience at King's helped shape your future. You can also nominate another alumnus to share their story.

Share Your Story