1. Get over what you “think” it should be and just allow it to be (“it” will be something different for every person).
2. Examine how you look through the lens of your camera. What do you really see? What are you looking for? Next time you pick up your camera let yourself play a bit more by looking up, down, to the sides, etc. of your subject. There are so many interesting things out there in the world. I am particularly interested in the ways things meet together – people, places, things.
3. White cardstock is always a solid choice for the foundation of your layout. I love it. It is my go-to color of choice.
4. Mix up your page sizes. For the last year I have been experimenting with all sorts of different sizes – this is a huge creative boost. Online lately I have seen really cool pages that are 6 inches x 12 inches, 4 inches x 12 inches, 8 inches x 8 inches, etc. Don’t limit yourself to one size.
5. Keep an inspiration journal. This is one of the best things you can do for your creative self. Don’t judge what you write in it or put in it – just use it and abuse it and let it be a place for the things that are scrambling in your head. For a long time I have had too many of these and it began to feel way to scattered. Recently I have combined it into one notebook – forcing myself to use just one and go with it.
6. Repetition. Probably my favorite design principle: do something once and then do it two more times. Three is a very nice number. Repeat colors. Repeat shapes. Repeat accents.
7. Expand yourself. Find something else to learn about next: a new interest, a new subject. Learning stuff fills you up, gives you more to draw from when you sit down to create.
8. Note to self: there is no perfect layout. Forget about perfection; rather adopt an attitude that you will learn something from each layout you complete. Maybe it will be a new way to combine colors, create embellishments, or crop your photos. Maybe it will be that you totally dislike the way you did something. Make a mental note and move on to the next thing.
10. Layer. When you are putting a layout together think in terms of layers: cardstock, patterned paper, transparency, stickers, stamps – what can you add on top of the last layer to make the piece more interesting?
11. Learn how to be self-critical without putting yourself down. How do you do this? As you create stuff ask yourself “does this really need this accent? Am I adding to the overall story or am I adding it just to add it?” There’s no right answer – it’s more about developing a general awareness and connection with yourself as you are creating. Be ok with stopping yourself and moving on to the next piece.
12. Just stick it down. If you have been looking at a single layout for days and days and days it is probably time to just stick it all down and move on the next. Isn’t it awesome that there is always another story to
14. Collect stuff (and not just scrapbook supplies). Mail pieces. Tags. Bits of stuff. Cut it up. Grab a manila folder or a basket or a box (don’t make it complicated) and stick stuff in there. Regularly dip back into that spot for ideas and inspiration.
15. Read more about the Art of Finding.
16. Make sure you are in your scrapbooks. Take photos of yourself. Set your timer. Hand over your camera. Get together with friends to take photos of one another. Your kids and your family will thank you.
17. Bring your scrapbook talents into your home environment (also known as living with your art). Create collages to hang in your home. Enlarge and frame your favorite photos or layout. Create cool accents for your mantle with your supplies. There is so much that can be done with all those supplies you have collected to bring your hobby into the living areas in your home.
18. Take some time to go back over all the layouts you have created and give yourself a hug for all the stories you have told. Taking a look at the body of your work will give you a whole new perspective on what you have done and where you want to go next.
19. Create less. Rather than doing a bunch of layouts just for the sake of filling up an album, spend more time on just a few stories that really have meaning for you and your family.
20. Go make something right now. Stop whining. Stop coming up with excuses. Start now.
Originally published June 2007 as part of my AEzine newsletter series.