Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's the thought that counts

I hated art in elementary school. I had an art teacher that, I believe, hated children. Nothing I ever did was good enough, and as a result, I suffered from a long-standing belief that I wasn't creative, not one bit. Amazing huh, the power that one horrible teacher has on a kid. (And I don't normally talk this way, but ask any of my siblings. She really was a horrible teacher!)

After the birth of my 1st child, I received a scrapbook as a gift. This wasn't the 1st scrapbook I'd ever received. I was given a Creative Memories embossed wedding album as a wedding gift, but unfortunately I didn't really know what I had. It wasn't my taste, and I had no plans to scrapbook my wedding, so I sold it at a garage sale a few years later for $5. $5! I cringe when I think if it, because I later found out that they retail for over $40. Someone got a great deal that day!

When Emma turned one, I decided to do something with that baby scrapbook that was just lying around. I had a friend who enjoyed scrapbooking, so I spent an afternoon with her at a scrapbook store, cropping (the term used by scrapbookers to define the act of scrapbooking). I was immediately hooked! Perhaps I was taken in by all of the beautiful papers and pens. Or maybe it was a flashback to my childhood hobby of sticker collecting that grabbed my attention. All I know is, it's been nearly 4 years, and I'm still going strong! I've worked at a scrapbook store and my abilities have definitely grown to the point where I finally consider myself creative. It's been a great feeling!

But something's been bothering me lately. In the scrapbooking world, there is such a thing as a "Scrapbooking Snob." It's really not much different than the cliques you experienced in high school. There are those who spend 3-4 hours on a 2 page spread, using artsy techniques, and multiple patterns of paper. These are the ones that look down on the others, less "creative" scrapbookers who scrapbook on the white page inserts that come in the albums, cut their photos into various shapes, and randomly place a few themed stickers around the page for effect. The Scrapbook Snob turns up her nose at such scrapbooking, rolling her eyes and saying things like,

"It looks like a sheet of stickers sneezed on her layout."
"She just slapped down some photos and called it a day."
I've been friends with a lot of these people, and I've thought some of these thoughts myself. But I've been growing more and more uncomfortable with this mentality. You see, I love my layouts. But when I meet new scrapbookers, I become very hesitant when they want to look at each other's books. They often say things like, "Oh, I'm not that creative. My scrapbooks aren't like this." And all of a sudden, I worry that I'm that mean art teacher that I had, making them feel like they aren't good enough.
You know what I've realized? 20 years from now, our kids aren't going to look at their scrapbooks and think, "Boy I wish my mom had been more creative. " And when they have their own kids, they aren't going to show them their books and think, "Mom used too many stickers on that page," or "I wish Mom had used a touch more ink on these photo mats." I really think that whatever way we chose to preserve our memories, our kids are just going to be glad that they did. My mom chose to keep our birthday cards and other mementos in a box for each child. I choose to scrapbook. Is either one better than the other? Nope! I'm thankful that I have things from my childhood that tell the stories of my youth. My girls will have the same, and so will they kids of the women who "Just slap their photos down and call it a day." I think this is one area where we women need to stop with our competitive attitudes, and strive to enable each other to excel in our endeavors. We'd all be better for it!


Chanda Canup said...

I love this post! The "comparison monster" strikes again, right! It's amazing how many things he can dig his claws into. I'm proud of you for pointing this out and I love your observations!

Charlene said...

YEAH! You've got it! The other thing I find extremely important is the story behind the photos...not just the names - Aunt Emily, but something about her, or the event that is not pictured.

michelle collazo said...

Point well made. You are so right. Because when we start critiquing each others' creations, we forget about the motivation behind the effort. I know my kids will cherish their albums, whether I scrap every photo or not. I want to tell stories, little things, but I also want to do it in a way that feels fun and expressive and creative. That's going to mean something different to everyone. Not better. Just different.

Great post.

Sammy said...

You said it, friend!! I'm one of the not-so-creative types when it comes to scrapbooking but I do enjoy doing it!

amy said...

Guess who won a prize? YOu won a Lori Wick book!!! email me at with your address

Anonymous said...

Well said!!!

Bella's Mommy said...


I came over from Amy's blog. I like your post. I am creative and I scrap book but I do a lot of pages on white and I had someone recently say "oh those people who scrap on white paper", I like white and the simplicity of it and the blank canvas part of it. I believe it is better to have a simple layout that tells something in a book is better than pictures in a box.

megan said...

Oh I so agree with you! I will never be known for my creativity, but that doesn't mean I don't love to scrapbook! The books I have for my girls are not works of art, but labors of love that I hope they will cherish for many years.