I read an interesting post yesterday over at Design Observer. The post has been around since March of last year, and apparently been discussed quite thoroughly at many scrapbooking sites, but I apparently missed it at the time. The article is an artists take on the phenomenon that is scrapbooking. I found it very interesting, and agreed with many of the points the author made. Most scrapbookers took the article as a personal insult. I’m sure it was generalizations like this that got them ticked off.
It’s at once horrifying and fascinating to witness the degree to which design is being discussed online by people whose concept of innovation is measured by novel ways to tie bows; whose appreciation of photography is ordained by goofy framing techniques; and whose understanding of typography is rather heavily weighted toward pastel drop shadows and generously kerned lowercase script.
And I can understand why…I believe the author did not do enough research into good scrapbook design. This was pointed out to her in the comments, and she did agree that there was indeed some good scrapbook design out there.
The whole article got me thinking about how I interpret scrapbooking. Is it art? Is it graphic design? I think it depends entirely on what your definition of those words are. I believe that scrapbooking is more of a craft/hobby than a true art form, and that for most people it is not graphic design. I also believe that it is influenced heavily from both art and graphic design. There are many pages that I have seen out there with horrible design…way too cluttered with no thought as to the flow of the page. IMO, this is the majority of scrapbook pages that I see (including many of my own pages). We as a community are not trained graphic designers or artists. I don’t claim to be either, and I will claim not to have a creative bone in my body. Does this mean that we can’t learn and improve? Of course not. I have noticed a great improvement in my design technique since I started a year and a half ago. I can still do better, and I strive to learn a little something with each page that I complete. Do all scrapbookers feel this way? No, probably not. Are there scrapbookers who are artists and graphic designers? yes. Anna Aspens and Rhonna Farrer come to mind.
So the other question is, why do we scrapbook? Well, part of why I do it so that I can get some words down on paper to go along with the pictures I have before me and my terrible memory forget the who what when why and where. Part of it is so that I can feel that I’m accomplishing something useful now that I don’t have a go-to-work-in-an-office job. Part of it is so that I have a creative outlet and stretch out the muscles in the other half of my brain occasionally. Does it matter that my pages aren’t perfectly graphically designed? No. Does it bother me that they often lack an artistic element? No. Does it matter that I’m trying my best and learning something? Yes. A big yes on that one.
What’s important to me is that someday my kids (hopefully I will have some eventually) will be able to look back at my books and get a better understanding of who their mom and dad were before the kids came around. And hopefully they’ll be able to look back at pictures from their childhood and not have to wonder why there is an appearingly random photograph of an inflatable dolphin in a swimming pool.