I read this article by Linda Fantin today and it got me thinking.
In the article Linda examines the ‘lifespan’ of Scrapbooking as a hobby and whether it is here for the long haul or just a current fad.
Now before we all throw up our arms in disgust and threaten the computer monitor with extreme violence, there are some thought provoking arguments in this article.
One of the points she raises is that as she has built up a very substantial scrapbooking stash over the years (and don’t we all love scrapbook shopping; both digital and traditional) she has found that she’s almost intimidated by the amount of scrapbooking supplies that she has and finds she doesn’t tend to do as much actual scrapbook layout creation as she once did.
Ouch! This one hit a bit of a chord with me. I don’t do as much traditional scrapbooking as I used to these days, but of course I can’t pass a scrapbooking shop without going in and browsing and buying yet more stuff for my stash.
And as a Digital Scrapbooker, my stash of Freebies collected over the years is intimidating. I find it takes me forever to select what kits and elements I want to use and if I were to be brutally honest, I reckon that I have never used over 80% of the stuff I have stored in my folders, because I tend to gravitate to favourite kits and elements.
But the point that created most concern in my mind was this:
“The parallels between scrapbooking and cross stitch are frightening,” says Mike Hartnett, publisher of Creative Leisure News.
Cross stitch was the “it” craft in the 1980s and early ’90s, spawning thousands of independent shops, small publishing and manufacturing businesses, numerous consumer magazines – even its own trade show. But the craft became too involved and complicated, discouraging beginners, Hartnett says.
“Chain stores jumped on the category and soon were selling at low prices; that helped push many shops, who were the category’s teachers, out of business,” he says.
Today the shops, the small vendors, most of the magazines, and the trade show are gone. In July, Wal-Mart announced it, too, was dropping stitchery.
In the world of Traditional Scrapbooking I can already see this, as major chain stores increase their scrapbooking supplies sections. And of course they don’t employ staff with specific expertise to be able to help the novice scrapbooker. This must obviously impact the LSS (Local Scrapbook Stores) and if it continues to grow will put the same pressure on them as was experienced by the stitchery stores in the 90s.
And in the world of Digital Scrapbooking the proliferation of freebies puts significant pressure on the prices of digital scrapbooking products that are sold in online scrapbooking stores. Whilst this is great for consumers, at some point designers and producers of digital scrapbooking products will decide that this is no longer worth their valueable time and stop doing it.
Typically, as people start leaving an industry, and their expertise and contribution is lost, that industry is poorer because of it; as the cross stitch example shows us.
Fundamentally, as scrapbookers we need to be constantly bringing new people into the hobby and making it accessable for newcomers. We need to make sure that newbies are not put off by seeing all the wonderful techniques and complicated layouts that experienced scrapbookers can produce.
For many of us, we scrapbook today for very different reasons than when we started. Often we do it more for the creative outlet than for the heritage preservation reasons that we may have started with. But we should not forget that we have walked an evolutionary path to get to this point. And we must give new scrapbookers the courtesy of allowing them their own evolution.
It’s very easy to lose sight of this. And I know I have been guilty of it myself from time to time. But I have never been as involved and enthusiastic or as passionate about a hobby as I am with Scrapbooking and I really want to make sure that this is something that ‘stays’ and is not just a passing fashion.
How about you?