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February 15, 2011

Student Spotlight: Sande Edwards

NOVA communication design students are awesome! Many of them don't just come to class and do homework, but work part- or full-time jobs and, on top of that, still have the energy to pursue exciting hobbies. In some cases, like Sande Edwards's, these hobbies turn into a little design/art/craft business on the side.

When Sande started taking Graphic Techniques, a class that focuses on design production and printing, little did she know that it would introduce her to the wonderful craft of bookmaking and that she would even earn some money out of it. Now she runs an Etsy shop where she sells handmade books and journals. Her creations feature incredible hand skills, great sense of design, attention to detail, inventiveness in the use of materials and are extremely polished, professional and affordable.  

Sande already holds an Associate's degree in Photography from NOVA and will graduate with a degree in Communication Design and one in Interactive Design in May 2011.

Tell us a little about your background before you got into graphic design.
I was waiting tables and working at go nowhere jobs when I finally decided to go back to school and pursue my passion for photography. After two years and an Associate's degree in Photography from NOVA I wasn’t so sure about trying to open a photo studio. I decided that graphic design skills would make me a little more appealing to future employers and freelance clients.

How did you end up making books and even starting a business out of that?
I had a class assignment that required us to create a book of design element samples and we could choose how to bind it. After researching some methods I found the Coptic stitch and tried it out. My first one didn’t go so great or even work for that particular assignment. Over the summer I decided that I would master the Coptic stitch and fell in love with the entire process of book making. After a while, people started telling me I could probably sell my books online and then I found Etsy. I opened my Etsy store in October 2010.

How many books can you make in a week?
If I needed to, I could probably make 35-40 in a week. But then I probably wouldn't enjoy it! I can casually make about 2-3 a day and still love the process.

What has the response been on Etsy and at the craft shows that you attend as an exhibitor?
I’ve only done two craft shows and they were right before Christmas. The first one was fantastic and I made a lot of money. The second, no one came and I didn’t sell any books. I’m hoping to get a better feel for shows this year and plan on doing at least one show a month in the VA/DC/MD area. Etsy is always good as long as you stay active on it. You can’t just put stuff up and sit back hoping the sales will come. There’s more to it than that. But the sales I’ve had are great and I’ve had a really good response to my books.

How did the idea of making books out of old vinyl records occur to you?
I had bought a bunch of old vinyl records at a yard sale last summer but didn’t have a record player. I remember searching the Internet for different crafty things to do with old vinyl records and came across a book made from a vinyl record. I can’t remember exactly how it looked but I know it wasn't bound like mine and I thought it would be something people would really like. And now it is my best seller!

Besides making books, do you have any other designery/artsy hobbies?
Photography of course, but school has kept me too busy to really enjoy it in these last few semesters. I hope to do a lot more this summer. I love using my old film cameras, especially the Polaroids!

What are your hopes for your future as a designer/artist? What would your dream job be?
I can only hope, at this point, that once school is finished I can focus on making something out of my book business. I don’t think there is a dream job out there. No matter what you do, it's going to be tough and you will have to deal with things you don’t like. I love creating and as long as I can do that I’ll be happy.

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