Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

March 25, 2010

Guest Post : Scrapbooking Comes Of Age by Stacy Julian


Is it time for a personal revolution?

We all know that our world’s economy and more particularly the world of work have progressed through eras that have defined the way we live.

As a global economy, we are in the midst of the change from knowledge-based work to emotional work—work that comes from our very core and leverages our passion, caring and generosity.

I’m totally intrigued by the idea that our scrapbooking industry has followed a similar pattern of progression. Please know that this comparison is given in the spirit of fun (I totally made this up.) I had a blast thinking about this and writing it. I hope it will be a FUN read for you –I’d love to hear your thoughts!


We use film in our cameras, develop what we take and scrapbook what we develop. All pictures (because they represent a measurable investment) are valuable. Waste is abhorred. Creative decisions are based largely on the archival quality of available products. Resources are limited, so everything is new.


An industry grows up around our need for better products and more choice. We are introduced to tools that generate something usable from something ready available (think die cut machines.) The goal is to get pages done so we can catch up with our backlog of prints. Magazines help us manufacture “creative” memories by propagating ideas and promoting techniques and products.


The digital camera and the Internet change everything.

We can capture an image and immediately see how to make it better. Without the limitations of film and developing, we quickly become photojournalists, drastically increasing the number of pictures we need to manage. As we gain access to unlimited information and online sharing we become more aware of skillful, complex and aesthetic scrapbooking. Products and services explode in response to a seemingly insatiable consumer.


Surrounded by surplus (pictures + products) and faced with advancing technologies that seem to challenge old paradigms, we discover that value is found in unique perspective and that the cure for excess is authentic expression. Scrapbookers who do the emotional work of bringing themselves fully to the creative process are able to sustain their passion, excavate the stories that matter and find gratitude and clarity for daily living.

ABOUT STACY : As founder of education at Big Picture Scrapbooking and Ali’s friend, I’m eager to promote a scrapbooking philosophy that is inclusive of everyone, supportive of those just starting out and story-based. You can read more of my views at

One more thing … if you haven’t read Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, I highly recommend it. Ideas for this post came pouring in, as I was reading!


  • 1.

    Stacy, this was WONDERFUL. I feel like you could have been talking about my whole evolution as a scrapper!! Well done!

  • 2.
    Marg Van Patten said…

    What an awesome post! I love the historical comparison. I’ve experienced this same evolution in my scrapbooking. I’m proud of my own personal gains and astonished at the turns the industry has taken in the last 10 years. Thanks for sharing and enjoy a lovely weekend!

  • 3.
    Molly Irwin said…

    Thoroughly satisfying and sparking to read this, Stacy. I do agree, it’s the emotional “work” that sustains us creatively.

  • 4.
    Angel said…

    You’re just awesome Stacy! Love the article. Love just about anything that you write!! :-)

  • 5.
    noell said…

    Brilliant. I love Stacy’s brilliant mind. Thanks so much to Stacy for writing it and many thanks to Ali for including in this week’s post!

  • 6.
    Sara said…

    Well done! I have seen a huge shift in my scrapbooking perspective after this recession. It was an opportunity to break the product obsession and turn to the heart of the matter.

  • 7.
    Wendy High said…

    Awesome job Stacy! That is exactly how I have felt with my scrapbooking! Great read! THanks!!!

  • 8.
    Susan said…

    Thank you! Finally someone gave words to my work. It’s emotional! Our time is coming; the shift is happening – your post made my day.

  • 9.
    cynthia said…

    Stacy, this is amazing!!!!!!! So, well said to say the least:) I want to thank you for your ongoing message of keeping it simple, fun and authentic. Through taking workshops through Big Picture, my scrapbooking has become what I always dreamed it would be when I began. Documenting my story through pictures and words in a creative way. Thank you! Thank you! for continuing to keep it real without all that industry sometimes throws at us:)

  • 10.
    kaitlin said…

    Awesome! I very much feel it is not the quantity of pages I complete but the quality of what I am documenting for my family. No more pages just because I have a picture- but because I feel an emotional attachment to the picture and want to tell a story about it.

  • 11.
    Jana said…

    I completely agree, Stacy! I think that is why you see a lot of the scrapbooking companies closing because we are now focusing on the creativity and reuse of supplies as opposed to going out and getting whatever is new just to create in mass.
    It also falls in line with what you teach in your book and Library of Memories class – that sometimes it’s the creativity found from changing your prospective of what you scrapbook that brings out this amazingly emotional pages. I know that since I read your book 2 years ago, I have really focused on using my pictures to document who we are as opposed to the traditional “holiday” or event based pages. That thought process wouldn’t have come to me if I hadn’t looked at what I was scrapbooking and made the commitment to document more the basic pages. Most of my favorite layouts over the last year were ones that I used pictures from another event to document a random personality trait or conversation.
    Thanks for your insight! I think it has brought my scrapbooking to a whole different level. You were definitely a pioneer of the “creative age” if you ask me!

  • 12.
    kl said…

    “excavate the stories that matter”
    love these words.

  • 13.
    Deb J said…

    This is good Stacy. Ali, I’m enjoying the guest posts but miss you.

  • 14.
    kelly vandermolen said…

    In a way, I think a great dis-service was done in the boom caused by digital photography (please know that I say this while holding my dear digital slr firmly with two hands so that no one takes it away from me) simply because of the excess. Rarity increases value and the few treasured photos I have of my mom and dad as children and of my grandfathers kitted up in their army uniforms are more precious than any gems. I am not certain I would feel the same way about the photos if I had twenty different variations on the same themes. I only hope that our excesses (hopefully past!) don’t devalue what we have done in the minds and hearts of those who follow us. I know I am far more selective about what I scrap now and I love the result.
    Thanks for your post, Stacey.

  • 15.
    LJM said…

    Well done, Stacy. I’m downsizing my craft room space and especially my tools and supplies. I’m beginning to do more with less. I think I am finally getting over the phase where I feel compelled to purchase absolutely everything.

  • 16.
    Laura said…

    Stacy, I really enjoy the perspective you bring to this topic. I certainly see “emotional work” as being a cornerstone of your work and Ali’s and something I want to emulate. Best regards ~ Laura

  • 17.
    Wendy said…

    Love it! So true so true!

  • 18.
    Jaana said…

    This is an amazing post! Wow… Off to read it again!

  • 19.


  • 20.
    Kirsten H said…

    what a cool perspective on scrapping – thank you very much for sharing it all

  • 21.
    Betheroo said…

    Loved this post, Stacy, a very clever comparison! I find all that you said to ring so true!

  • 22.
    AnyaL said…

    Wow! Stacy you are so good at putting your thoughts to words. Loved it!

  • 23.

    Believe it or not this article made me cry. I guess I’m just more emotional right now with recently losing my father. However, I am LOM alumni and have been a fan for years, but this is exactly where I am right now I just didn’t know how to put it into words. Thanks Stacy for writing this article and helping define this new age. Huge Hugs!

  • 24.
    PattiP said…

    Wow, Stacy, interesting progression!

  • 25.
    Sally Paxton said…

    I love the comparisons. As with everything else we do, the photos greatly enhanced the words. Well done. And adorable!

  • 26.
    Marilyn said…

    Ali – I am enjoying the guest posts each day. What a great way to keep me coming back each day to read what your guests have to say.
    Stacy – You are a remarkable writer! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your written words and it made me take a moment to reflect on my life, how I scrapbook, and what is important to me that I feel is inecessary to document. I have evolved as a scrapbooker but more importantly I have learned that I am an artist.

  • 27.
    dawn said…

    This is a brilliant analogy!

  • 28.
    Alison said…

    This is a brilliant post, and so thought provoking. An interesting read for sure. Thanks for sharing Ali and Stacy.

  • 29.
    Jing-Jing said…

    What does it mean to “bring oneself fully to the creative process?”

  • 30.
    Bev said…

    I am a History buff and old enough 73 to have “been there” through some of the above. I know what you have said makes clearer the thought processes are from all of the above including me. We are going through, with your honest interpretation of the process of emotional scrapping and technology, and growing. Change happens, is good, and we need it in our lives to help us grow into who we were born to be. Thank you because your philosphy is so freeing and mind clearing. Thank you Stacy. Keep searching and telling us where you are, please :-) . We appreciate you!

  • 31.
    stacyj said…

    This can mean something different depending on the page or project you are working on, but with scrapbooking, this essentially means you are willing to dig deep and tell the story you most need to tell and to make that story the driving force behind your decisions — you’re story doesn’t need to be some earth-shattering revelation. It can be light-hearted and fun. When story is your motivation then you will experience an intrinsic satisfaction with the creative process and you will need less outside validation or recognition for what you do.
    These are my thoughts (tonight anyway!)
    Thanks for your comment.

  • 32.
    Lenea said…

    how fun, great job on your post Stacey

  • 33.
    Bea Medwecky said…

    inspirational as always.

  • 34.
    ommu said…

    You just described my path at scrapbooking! Wow!

  • 35.
    stacyj said…

    I’m sorry about your father. That’s a tough one. But it is at crossroads such as this that we are often poised to shift into emotional work.
    Thank you for your comment.

  • 36.
    stacyj said…

    thank you for your thoughtful comment. photos are no longer scare, but as you suggest, thoughtful personal perspective still is!

  • 37.
    stacyj said…

    Thank you Jana — your favorite pages are the kind I love the most too!

  • 38.
    kathy jo camacho said…

    Love it! I love the evolution that you described. It’s so true.

  • 39.
    Leora said…

    Thanks Stacy. What great perspective. Thanks for sharing.

  • 40.
    TracyBzz said…

    Great post Stacy! It is an evolution and we have to change our thoughts and perspective as the technology evolves.

  • 41.
    Cynthia H said…

    I think it is interesting to think about how art changes in the face of excess. Are we able to do more because of the sheer volume of product available to us? Or are we stagnated because there is so much choice?
    I took a quilting class last fall with Paula Nadelstern who is someone who has created amazing art under the premise of excess. She does not quilt with scraps (as was the tradition and necessity in a time of scarcity), but rather takes large pieces of fabric and cuts out the elements that are repeated to make a kaleidoscope effect. Her quilts (and art) would not have been possible in a time of scarcity.
    How does this apply to scrapbooking, a craft whose very name implies the use of scraps and therefore scarcity? Do we seek out something that is still scarce – the emotional component – as you suggest in your post? Or do we create something that wasn’t possible in a time of scarcity? What would that be?
    I don’t have the answers, but just wanted to throw the idea out there as something to ponder.

  • 42.
    Jill D said…

    I’ve been thinking about this post all day and the paper I wrote for graduate school (or maybe undergrad?) about women’s craft and how it was both utilitarian but also a form of art. Interesting.

  • 43.
    sue said…

    Interesting theory Stacy! I think there have been many progressive movements in the industry and like most of them. I do have to admit that most of those old ‘film’ photos are very cherished memories as we didn’t have a digital camera when our kids were growing up. Now we have one to capture our grandchildren!

  • 44.
    iUma said…

    Stacy, I love your notes and wild mind!! Just order the book to use in a college class I’ll be teaching this spring term. The whole concept of emotional work is the basis for the new blog posting I am doing at Digital Designers. It’s called PageKraft:WriteTrue + Click. We focus on deep story and truth telling. Katrina Kennedy does the Click part about photos that get to the depth of the memory. Thank you for all you do for our art, Kraft, process and memories. You are a true original and definitely at LinchPIN!!

  • 45.

    “The cure for excess is authentic expression.” SO TRUE! I love all of this. Thank you for writing it, Stacy. Thanks for posting it, Ali.

  • 46.
    RScrapIT said…

    “….sustain their passion, excavate the stories that matter and find gratitude and clarity for daily living.” This is why I keep scrapping even though lots of my friends have quit. It is good for me, it helps me count my blessings and see the bigger picture in life instead of drowning in the mundane tasks of life.

  • 47.
    Susanne said…

    Dear Stacy,
    I love the idea of “emotional scrapbooking” and “that the cure for excess is authentic expression”.
    When reading your book of “photo freedom” I found my own way of storing and presenting photos and the my scrapbooking approach.
    Thanks so much for all your good inspirations at any time!

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