Does Scrapbooking have a ‘Use By’ Date?

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?

Other Related Articles:

Scrapbook Max Review

Why I Scrapbook

What kind of a Scrapbooker are You?

Scrapbook MAX! Digital Scrapbooking Software

16 Responses to Does Scrapbooking have a ‘Use By’ Date?

  1. Hannah January 22, 2008 at 7:43 pm #

    Definitely not a passing fad for me!
    I belong to a great online scrapbooking forum and I have to say we are VERY welcoming and accommodating of newbies. They know that there is no such thing as a “silly question” and we encourage them all to partake in the challenges and competitions. Many of them have just soared in their confidence and ability since joining. I’m sure we are not the only forum like this!

    Is it a little humorous that I still do cross-stitch sometimes? ;-)

  2. karooch January 22, 2008 at 8:00 pm #

    The only thing that stopped me from doing cross stitch was eye problems Hannah. I used to make pictures on linen. But now my contrast vision is shot and I can only do it in bright daylight. So that was pretty impractical.

  3. allan January 22, 2008 at 9:38 pm #

    I may sound a bit negative here,but if the (worldwide) economy does a belly flop,then perhaps the consumers of the world may do a re-think on what exactly is a priority in their personal ‘want it now’ expensive material wants and desires ?
    They may come around to comparing these expensive short term ‘wants’, to long term creative and comparatively inexpensive creative hobbies, such as scrapbooking ?
    – nothing changes one’s mind more about their entertainment material wants than the credit card statement at the end of the month !

  4. Beka January 23, 2008 at 5:21 am #

    This is a bit of a sore subject for me. We currently live in a house that is really too small for us, and I am so frustrated by my lack of organization and gulit over not having things organized yet, that I haven’t scrapped much at all in the three years I’ve lived here. But I know that it is something I still want to do. I haven’t lost interest, just gotten much, much busier with kids extracurricular activities and having to earn money. I do hope I become a scrapper again.

  5. Karen January 23, 2008 at 7:56 am #

    It has been quite a long “fab” for me – I did my first layout in 1999. Sometimes I do heaps and other times the mojo walks out the door – but I don’t worry or feel guilty about it any more. I was put off after doing simple but meaningful layouts I went to a shop that everyone was doing very complicated (and expensive) work and felt that I was doing the wrong thing. The chains stores (and someone helping themselves to my lss’s database then setting up their own place from home!) have meant I no longer have a lss. Luckily in this electronic age the classes are now run in an online format.
    Beka – you are a scrapper just having a break to fit life in!

  6. Antoinette January 23, 2008 at 10:26 am #

    I think people will always keep on scrapbooking – just like there are still people who cross-stitch, but it may be a lot less than before.
    A friend of mine just started a cross-stitching business (online) and so far there are a lot of enthousiasts, glad to find a fresh approach on what turned into an oldfashioned hobby.
    TG I live in a tiny village, with 1 very succesful – and friendly – LSS and no big stores in the neighbourhood. It’s sad how those big stores force the locals to shut down. Not only LSS but butchers, bakers, etc. Guess it’s a sign of the times.

  7. Tink January 23, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    I can see where the point should be well taken. Being an avid cross stitcher with tons of floss, linen and patterns. I find that should I need something, I can no longer find it. I truly hope that scrapbooking does not take that kind of dive as well.

  8. karooch January 23, 2008 at 11:59 am #

    Some great points there everyone. I guess one thing that scrapbooking has got going for it (as opposed to cross stitch for example) is that it has a very strong online presence, both for traditional and digital.
    That promotes a sense of community which can keep interest flourishing. I find that very comforting.

    Beka I agree with Karen. You’re just taking a life-break from scrapping. If you weren’t still interested in it you wouldn’t be reading blogs like mine (and I’m very glad you do). The physical space and clean up issues with traditional scrapbooking don’t often mix well with toddlers and short grabs of time. Have you thought about digital scrapbooking? Everything on the computer and you can pick it up and walk away at the click of a Save button. A good and inexpensive entry product for trad scrappers interested in trying digital scrapbooking is Scrapbook Max. Best of all you can get a free 30 day trial to see whether it really is for you before you make any commitment.

  9. Kayla January 23, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    I heard about ten years ago that scrapbooking was credited largely for revitalizing the craft industry – before scrapbooking came into play a lot of hobbyists were moving on to other hobbies outside of crafting…

    That said – I believe traditional scrapbooking will never be the same. Digital is changing the entire market – however I do believe that scrapbooking will always exist in some shape or form. The cliff dwellers were drawing pictographs on the wall – so I really think that we will be doing some form in our own way for generations to come…

  10. Hope January 23, 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    I am reminded of knitting. Seems like that was an ‘old-fashioned’ hobby that has gotten new life after it reinvented itself. Even I dabbled in it after I got a look at all the fun new yarn. Not my grandmother’s yarn that is for sure. I believe that scrapbooking is here to stay. It does look different than when I was first introduced to it. I think some of the changes are good and some will pose some challenges. As a ‘basic’ paper scrapper (and probably still could be called a ‘newbie’) I am intimitated by all of the new digi scrappers out there. My layouts do not look anything like what I see on most blogs/websites. But what is important to me is the reason I scrap. My purpose is to pass down a family legacy. To capture the memories. I believe if we in the scrapbook industry remember that heart behind the supplies (and work hard to encourage and inspire others to remember why they scrap in the first place) then we will do much to keep the hobby alive and well.

  11. karooch January 23, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    I love the fantastic comments that this article has encouraged. I’m already eyeing off my walls in anticipation of pictograph scrapping Kayla.

    And Hope you are obviously scrapping ‘right’. The whole point is that you should be getting what you want out of it. If scrappers focus too much on what everybody else is doing and not what they want to get out of it, then I would think they will be susceptible to the ‘fad’ syndrome.

  12. Beka January 23, 2008 at 4:04 pm #

    Karen, thanks for the kind comments (both Karens, actually). I do think you are right that it is just a break for me. I have never been one for the current trends of scrapbooking (although I love practical innovations to make it easier). Some of my favorite layouts have featured found objects. I do digi scrap some, but haven’t had the time to hone my skills yet. ;)

  13. Olga January 29, 2008 at 9:45 pm #

    I guess like with everything in life there is the fashion of the moment component and obviously the more you hear of it the more people that want to follow the fashion. On the other hand people might get tired and leave it. I guess that would be something that happens to traditional: it’s too expensive a hobby, it needs lots of space, etc. And I guess that’s the reason people find compelling hybrid, you just need so stuff and most of the time you don’t even need to store it, just go to the shop as you plan for a layout.

    A similar debate to this one is taken place in the Open Source world, lots of free things and how can you actually maintain a business, at least a quality one in that environment. And the answer from most people is to “create abundance”. By that they mean to offer a free product so people want to pay for additional services related to it. I guess that after all I have read the ideal would be to offer freebies that might compel people to buy more beautiful kits, and also offer a way to use that stuff, that means offer tutorials and templates so people can learn how to do layouts, how to do a certain technique in a layout, how to make elements, or specific papers, etc. The service part of teaching, tutorials, perhaps scrap for hire, and creating some kind of community place that’s really appealing to people dabbling in scrapbooking, it’s the part that people once they start they will be paying money for. Considering as well that digital is cheaper and there is no problem about locations and distances, it makes more likely that it would survive even in recession times, it’s cheap and provides entertainment and people always needs that and want that.

    Thanks for the article and best wishes. :O)

  14. karooch January 29, 2008 at 10:25 pm #

    I like the idea of abundance Olga.
    I hope that becomes the model for the future. It certainly seems to be the direction for music these days.


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    Does Scrapbooking have a Use By Date?…

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