Sandy Bell


“I was born in Toledo, Ohio. That’s me and my sister being read to by our mom (I’m the ham on the left). It was the beginning of a continuing love affair with books. You can also see me later, intently studying my favorite pop-up book about Noah’s Ark. I took an early interest in the Toledo Museum of Art—where I first got my interest in museums—which, as you will see, figured quite prominently in my life.


From Ohio we moved to upstate New York where I attended a series of elementary and secondary schools during my family’s moves around the state. I went to college at the State University of New York College at Buffalo, right across the street from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery—a fabulous place in which to spend countless hours. Knowing I wanted to study graphic design, I also interned for a while at the Charles Burchfield Center which is on the Buffalo State campus. Charles Burchfield’s watercolors are wonderful—you should look him up if you aren’t already familiar with his work.


After graduating with a degree in graphic design, I promptly left the east coast and flew to the sunny southern California mecca of Los Angeles. I came at the invitation of my favorite Aunt Helen, and lived with her family for awhile. After a short two-year stint doing production work for a publishing house in the San Fernando Valley, I landed a position as an assistant graphic designer at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I worked my way up to book design in the design department eventually becoming the head of the graphic design department. Book design seemed to me to be the most challenging yet rewarding work to be doing. I also designed exhibition graphics for installations and worked with many talented and inspiring people in the almost ten years I was there.


In a well-made book, where designer, compositor and printer have all done their jobs, no matter how many thousands of lines and pages, the letters are alive. They dance in their seats. Sometimes they rise and dance in the margins and aisles.” Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style


The short story of how I came to Utah is this: My old Buffalo college roommate and her sister and I planned a weekend trip to Zion Canyon leaving from Los Angeles. It happened to be on April 26, 1992, a day that lives in infamy—the beginning of the Rodney King riots in LA. While much of LA burned we fled to the solace of Zion. While here, we all met Michael, who later became my husband. He is a photographer and I fell in love twice—with Michael and the canyon. It wasn’t long after that we married and I relocated and began my freelance design practice. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here this many years, in this beautiful place I call home. I love the process of working on big book projects from my home studio.”