Insights on business -- and life.
Are Scrapbookers Crazy?
Contests, validating lives, and more.
by Nancy Nally (Nov. 19, 2007)
(Note: the column is in response to the Commentary in the
11/5/07 edition of CLN. To read the original column, click on
CLN Archives, then 2007, then 11/5/07.)
Is scrapbooking about validating people's lives? Maybe it is for
some scrapbookers. I'll address that in a moment. But the Hall of
Fame controversy had to do with other, long-festering, wounds in the
For years, actually since the first year of the contest, there
has been talk that the contest winners are picked in an unfair
manner. These allegations have ranged from winners being chosen
based on relationships with the magazine or its staff, to the
winners being chosen for demographic balance. There have been
consistent whispers of winners being "pre-selected" before
entries were even submitted. True or not, the rumors have raised a
cloud of suspicion around the contest for many scrapbookers.
When this year Creating Keepsakes published proof that it
had chosen a winner in violation of its own contest rules by putting
the photo credit in the Hall of Fame book for a winner's layout,
years of pent-up frustration with the contest and its judging
process came to a head. The gloves came off in the fight to
establish the truth of what was really going on in the judging
process of the contest, and to try to ensure fairness in the
contest. Finally critics had an opening to use to prove that Creating
Keepsakes wasn't following the rules of its own contest in
judging, after years of suspicions that couldn't be proven.
In a way, the Hall of Fame controversy isn't about scrapbooking
at all. It is about consumers who are not happy about the way they
are being treated by a company, and who finally found a way to do
something about it.
Now, is scrapbooking about validation for some people? Different
people do a lot of different things looking for validation. Of
course scrapbooking is about validation for some people. Some people
do it because they think they "need" to record their
child's life to be the perfect mom. Some people do it to be
creative, and because they like playing with colors and photos.
There are probably as many different reasons for scrapbooking as
there are scrapbookers.
Validation is probably a more common motive for submitting
layouts for publication than it is for scrapbooking in general.
Unfortunately, scrapbooking for publication does seem for some
people to become an obsession that leads them to give up the fun
part of their hobby to pursue publication, or even the hobby
entirely when they are not successful or become disillusioned with
the publication process.
Do scrapbookers exercise selective memory in creating their
albums? Certainly some do. But many scrapbookers just scrap to
record the photographs that they normally take of events. Most
people take pictures during birthday parties, vacations, and family
visits – not tantrums. Other scrapbookers do record some of these
bad parts of life but choose not to share these layouts in
publications or public forums. Also, in scrapbooking sometimes you
almost re-live the event to a certain extent. Who wants to re-live
the bad stuff?
Some scrapbookers see their albums as decorated photo albums.
Others see them as journals of their lives. It is that vision, that
purpose, which decides in large part what goes in those albums. Some
people scrapbook about what is in their kitchen cupboards. Other
people think that is a ridiculous topic. Some people scrapbook about
how it feels to turn 40. Other people think a page like that is
self-indulgent and over-emotional. It all depends on the individual
Scrapbooking is personal on a level that few other crafts are –
our materials are photos of the people we love, and we pour our
feelings out on our pages often. Some people have a hard time
separating the subject of their work from their efforts to submit to
publications and contests. So yes, sometimes scrapbookers can get a
little over-defensive of their work.
But are they crazy? No. A little misunderstood because a lot of
people don't recognize that not all scrapbookers have the same goals
and creative vision? Probably.
(Note: Nancy operates a blog, Scrapbook Update at www.scrapbookupdate.com.
She has had articles and projects published in a number of hard-copy
and online publications. Nancy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)