Artist puts a new spin on old album covers
Old albums play a new song through Anna Sajovic’s AlbumWorks. That is, she refashions their original cardboard covers, paper sleeves and vinyl discs into tote bags, note pads, planners, clocks and more than a dozen other products at her home-based business in south Kansas City.
“My whole point is to get these records and their memories into the hands of people that it means something to,” she says. “I thought most of my customers would be middle-aged or older, but 50 percent of my sales are to younger people, probably in their 30s.” She finds the age range interesting, although some purchases are gifts for parents or grandparents.
Before establishing AlbumWorks in 2013, Sajovic worked for many years as a classroom teacher and administrator at eight school districts in the area, including Hickman Mills, Grandview and Kansas City, Mo. She grew up spinning songs from the ’60s and early ’70s on a one-speaker record player on the floor of her mom’s San Francisco apartment.
“I started thinking about how much is lost in moving from vinyl record album covers to downloads,” she says. “You don’t have that same kind of information and connection anymore with artists you’re really into.”
Sajovic says she never dips into her personal collection of 200 vinyl records for her business. “Never,” she says firmly. Instead, she browses used bookstores and record stores.
“I’m the one digging in the crate of musty, old albums in the back room. It’s fun. It’s a treasure hunt.” She prefers to pay only $1 per album, but must go higher for musicians like The Beatles, Tom Petty, Prince, Pink Floyd and such. Products made from The Beatles and Elvis Presley are her top sellers.
She made her first musical artwork by drilling a hole through an old ABBA album and installing a clock mechanism. “I hung it on the wall and most people thought it was pretty cool. I started thinking about what else would people use.”
Eventually she acquired a high-strength German paper cutter for slicing through vinyl, a paper hole puncher for spiral notebooks and a binding machine. Her canvas tote bags are made with full-sized cardboard album covers attached with corner brads to the bag’s front, back and insides.
The condition of the albums determines what they will become. Those in excellent shape might be repurposed into clocks or framed art. Worn or damaged covers are cut into notepads, address books and other smaller items. Prices range from $3 for postcards and $9-15 for keychains, bookmarks and luggage tags to over $30 for clocks and tote bags.
The artwork itself also must be considered. She tries to avoid awkward images, but a friend once insisted on using a particular Elvis Costello album for a clockface, which happened to hit at his crotch area.
Sajovic usually markets her work at a full slate of craft fairs and festivals every fall, but this year only one show (at Thomas More School) was not cancelled. She sells products online through Etsy, at an artists’ cooperative at 7015 Oak Street in Waldo called Eclectics, and through her website. She often arranges for local pickups at a gas station near State Line Road and I-435.
More than 4,000 items made from original albums are in stock and ready to sell, she says, noting that an alphabetical list of musicians she carries can be found at the bottom of her website, annasaspirations.com/albumworks. Genres include rock, pop, blues, jazz, country, R&B, classical, opera, comedy, children’s, retro and various oddities. Contact her at 816-225-8125 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.