Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Things I'm curious about...

I wish I could listen in on product development meetings and scrapbook manufacturers when they decide what their next season’s lines will look like. How do they decide that red is in and blue is out (for example)? How do they set about to plan what a line will look like – will it be plaids or paisley or flowers? Graphic or distressed? Will they have coordinating plastic or metal embellishments – or both? How do they decide on pricing? What about the marketing, how is it planned? How do they decide which lines should no longer be produced – is it based on demand or because they are deemed to be too old?

I wish I could listen in on scrapbook magazine planning meetings. How do they really choose new faces? Do they really sit around and discuss which are the best products (in their opinion) or are the decisions made on a commercial basis? To what extent to they actually follow the trends that come from the “troops” (like doodling) or how much do they try to create new and hot trends? Are lots of decisions based on how much their advertisers are spending on each issue? How much freedom do they really have? What do they really say about reader submissions – are some so awful that they can’t help but laugh at them? Are some so awesome that they readily admit that this is a new scrapping star in the making?

I wish I could be a fly on the wall in the house of scrapbooking celebrities. Do they really have the lives that they show on their scrapbook pages or are those for “show”? What are their personal scrapbooks really like? Do they actually have to spend any money on their pages or are most of their products samples and donations? Do they really take all those photos? Do they secretly get sick of scrapbooking every once in a while, or at least get the occasional case of scrapper’s block? Do they still actually go to local crops or is it all just a job these days?

I wonder if anyone would be able to answer these questions frankly?

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Allow me a moment to vent my opinion

I really love scrapbooking and, since I discovered it, I’ve loved every aspect of it. Recently, though, I’ve noticed that there are a few things are bothering me about this hobby. Remember as you read: this is only my opinion and I have a right to it! (ie, don’t flame me for having an opinion...)

1. The message from the media that one must be constantly buying things in order to do this hobby “well”. Much like fashion, papers are in one minute, out the next and if anyone even thinks of using their “old” papers they are sometimes made to feel inadequate. “Spend, spend, spend!” is the constant mantra and I don’t think this is right. Some people create beautiful albums with few supplies or with (gasp!) older papers.

2. Magazines that dictate styles. I know that magazines speak of “find your own style” but in reality they perpetuate the one-photo, tons of embellishments look that is not easy or desirable for everyone to achieve. Where are the layouts with lots of photos? Where are the layouts with few embellishments? Granted, these kinds of layouts sometimes feature but they are few and far between. The pressure to conform is sometimes too great for comfort.

3. The technique glut. Sure, we all like to try new and wonderful things but sometimes these techniques require the purchase of specialist equipment (more shopping) not to mention an entire evening spent making an embellishment. Simply not realistic and, while I do agree that some people out there love doing arty work like this, I would guess that many of us don’t scrap full-time so need to keep things simple.

4. The continuous competition among scrappers. YES, this is a sad truth to face: more and more scrappers are drawn to this hobby because they want to be the best at it, not simply because they want to preserve memories. This is all fine but they don’t have to enter EVERY competition and be on EVERY design team to prove it! This leaves us mere mortals with a very limited gallery to be inspired by and brings us back to point 2. Nothing wrong with a little healthy competition but this can sometimes go too far (you know what I mean!). A message for those very talented people: it would be very big of you to occasionally step back and let others win the competitions and share in their happiness.

5. There is too much to choose from. I may just be a grumpy old woman about this but I really don’t know how newbies manage to get started in scrapbooking – there is too much around! When I started all we had were the basics and stickers so it made things easy and I’ve picked up new things as they have appeared. But now, those new to the hobby must feel so overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of papers, embellishments, techniques and tools - it’s too much. Add to that the pressure of making sure they choose the “right” papers (see point 1), then to get their pages looking “just right” (see point 2), using all the latest techniques (point 3) and all the time trying to make their pages stand out so that they can be picked as design team members (point 4) and I wonder why they don’t quit in the first few months!

Call me grumpy or grouchy or whatever you like but these are my pet hates in scrapbooking. I love the hobby too much and it makes me sad that it sometimes seems to have been overtaken by commercial interests and the whole point is forgotten! Why do I scrapbook? Because it’s an artistic way to record my family’s memories and I love it.

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

In a small way I am still a journalist - mainly in this blog!

As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I love words and writing and reading. I’ve been keeping a journal since I was little and I also have an entire book of poems that I wrote mainly in my teens (and some are not bad, actually!) These poems I lovingly entered in my book with colored pens and doodling, so the book itself is precious but the act of writing poetry meant that I wanted to do that for a living.

However, even when I was 10 I knew that poets didn’t make much money and that didn’t sound very appealing. So when I saw the film Superman (the original!) I knew immediately what I wanted to do with myself: I wanted to be a journalist like Lois Lane. It just felt so glamorous – working with words, reporting the stories, maybe even changing the world.

This sort of stayed with me for the rest of my growing up years so when the time came to choose a degree I went for journalism, what else? OH! How I loved those first few months in my studies when I was crafting stories, learning about good writing and generally having a great time. Unfortunately, the degree was scrapped and my university moved me into something considered similar: Communication sciences.

In the end it was probably a good idea as this covers many areas: journalism of course, but also marketing, PR, corporate image, media, etc. I feel like I learned many things that are useful (like photography!) and many that probably aren’t as much. But it definitely made me into the well-rounded individual that I am and for that I’m thankful. If it wasn’t for my degree, I wouldn’t have discovered the internet as early as I did – in 1995 when you had to know Unix to send email!

My love of words hasn’t subsided though, and now I feel that I satisfy my creative urges with scrapbooking and the journaling that goes with it. I am once again working with words, telling the stories and, in a small way, changing my family’s world.

Monday, 7 August 2006

It probably is the perfect synergy

What is it about scrappers and Disney? At least here in the UK it seems that most scrappers want to go to a Disney park, have just returned from a Disney vacation or are happily planning one in the future – that is, if they are not all just Disney mad anyway! Why? What is it about Disney that appeals to scrappers or vice versa? Is it the Orlando shopping, the cheap prices, the way to record a memorable family vacation? Is it the cuteness, the family-orientation or the multitudes of characters available? What is it?

My own Disney connection is deeper than scrapping (I like to think) as I’ve been going to the Orlando and California parks since I was a baby. In fact, my mom likes to think I was conceived while they were on their Disneyland honeymoon! My nursery was decorated with Mickeys and I used to read books with Disney characters on them.

My first “proper” trip to the theme parks was at the age of 2 and of course I remember nothing. But nearly every year after that we’d go to Orlando – and some years we went twice. I love the whole experience and loved it so much that I eventually applied for a part in their international program. I spent 18 months working at WDW and can safely say that these were the best times of my life. I was completely immersed in Disney culture, Disney merchandise and a Disney life and couldn’t ask for more. If I could have kept that job forever I would have done.

My scrapbooking developed very much in parallel but has little to do with Disney – I did do some to keep my photos from my time in the international program but mainly my scrapping is about every day life. So my two worlds rarely meet but it’s not because I don’t want them to, it’s because they just don’t.

It’s not because I don’t like Disney anymore – quite the opposite, I love it. I collect all the soundtracks and even have most of the songs in my MP3 player, so I can listen to them all the time. I love watching the movies. I even used to subscribe to the Disney magazine until it disappeared last year. I have lots of Mickey earrings and necklaces and such and even wear them. I buy almost every Disney book that comes out, whether it is about business or travel or secrets. In short, I still very much love all things Disney but this love is kept apart from my scrapbooking for some reason.

I keep these two aspects of my life apart so much (unconsciously) that when we booked our trip to Florida for later in the year, I hadn’t really thought about stash shopping or anything like that until someone mentioned it to me. I’d been concentrating more on the chance to catch up with old friends, to visit the old haunts and, if I’m honest, to introduce my little boy to Mickey Mouse in the hope that he too will become a Disney fan!

When we return from that holiday no doubt I will have bought some stash. I will also have tons of photos that will need a special place. So perhaps I too will join the ranks of all those Disney-addicted scrappers and finally work out what the connection is!

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