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Consumers Respond

Anger, misunderstanding, and thought-provoking comments..

Compiled by Mike Hartnett (November 19 22, 2007)

(Note: The Sept. 17 edition of CLN included "Stop Worrying about

(Note: Some consumers, who had read the CLN Commentary, "Are Some Scrapbookers 'Crazy'?" emailed CLN their comments. To read the Commentary, click on CLN Archives in the right-hand column, then 2007, then 11/5/07. To read reaction from the industry, click on Business-Wise in the left-hand column.)

Comparing Sports and Scrapbooking.

OK, if someone cheats in baseball by taking steroids and Congress gets involved – who's crazy? It is just a game, not life and death. It isn't a war. Personally I find that RIDICULOUS.

If someone fixed the Super Bowl, imagine the outcry. But we're crazy to be upset when the one of the most prestigious contests in scrapbooking looks fixed? I just LOVE people's logic. It's OK to cheat or not follow the rules, if it isn't important to some one else? Scrapbooking is big business just like baseball or football, but because it is predominately a "female" hobby, we get label crazy. NICE.

Lots of people make their living or supplement their living from this hobby. Some people aren't playing at it. The HOF contest can be a HUGE benefit to the winners in cold hard cash from teaching deals, product line development, etc.

People call Barry Bonds a cheater and attack his character, not knowing anything about him except he may or may not have taken steroids knowingly or unknowingly. Same with the people who cheated on the HOF contest. They read the rules, or had the opportunity to read the rules like everyone else. Yes, people get upset. People get called names. They may or may not deserve it.

Saying it is just a hobby doesn't hold water! – Kate Childers (Note: Kate's company, D&K Productions, which one sponsored the Simply Scrapbook and Stamp show, is now closed.)

Love, not Competition.

I know that you were just doing your job, but the tone of your piece totally rubbed me the wrong way. The thing is, I don't think it has anything to do with you or what you wrote; it's just that so much has happened within the last month or so that many scrapbookers are feeling very misused and feeling that the industry is not listening to them. We just want an industry to be ethical. And I don't think that it is too much to ask, or that we are "crazy" or "vile" or "dowdy" or any other number of condescending names that we have been called in recent months. What's worse, that name calling is coming from industry owners!

I can honestly say that right now, I am so fed up with such a large segment of the scrapbooking industry that I feel like leaving it, finding some other way to enjoy this hobby that I deeply and truly love. At the end of the day, my scrapbooks are for my family. I want them to know their story, my story, our story. Where we were, what we did, how we felt. What we survived, where we triumphed, where we failed – and most of all, how much I deeply loved them. I want somebody looking at my scrapbooks a hundred years from now not to comment on the thrilling design, the fantastic patterned paper, whatever, but comment on how much I loved the people in those books. – Joy Messimer

Two Types of Scrappers.

I got to thinking after reading the thread and your response that there is a difference in definition here (particularly after talking to my neighbor this morning, who is a knitter). I know that I don't think of scrapbooking as "just a craft."

I think of it as a way to preserve memories. Now each craft, in and of itself, can be a memory experience: Grandma's quilt, my aunt's cross-stitch, the sweater my mom knit, but only scrapping is about actually "marking down" the memory.

I see the industry splitting in two because there are many who are "memory first": they are more concerned about the pictures, the who what where why when, sometimes the story – and the art and design of it are one of the last things they approach.

And then there is the "art first" side of scrapping, more concerned about the color, design, latest patterned paper/stamp/embellishment with one very artistic photograph. So there's this huge disconnect. And I get the feeling that the industry doesn't know who to "talk to" and ends up offending both sides. There's got to be a balance some where. But I for one am tired of a few ladies without manners making a bad name for the rest of us who love the craft, and scaring everyone else off!– Name Withheld

Are YOU Crazy?

Wow, way to kick a scrapbooker when she's down. Are we crazy? What a question to ask! How'd you feel if we turned it around on the other foot. Are you crazy? I mean, really, what does that kind of question accomplish? Your "article" is extremely unprofessional considering that you're the face of CLN. I would think that you would not want to alienate your readers, who probably are a part of the scrapbooking industry and/or community.

Reading your article made me feel small, and I have to admit, it takes a lot to invoke such emotions. Do I feel validated by my scrapbooks? No, not at all. But I do feel a sense of pride and pleasure regarding their existence and my myriad reasons of why I scrapbook. And selective scrapbooking? Absolutely not! I scrapbook everything, the good, the bad and the ugly, and while I agree there are some who prefer to scrap only the good times, there are many more who do scrap the others but choose not to share them with the world because they are intensely personal and not really meant for prying eyes.

As for your parallel with miniature dollhouses, I find it absurd that you're comparing the two based solely on consumers spending large amounts of money. Anyone solidly immersed in a hobby, whether it be scrapbooking, dollhouses, or even golfing, spend big dollars, most often in the beginning of their newfound hobby when the itch is the greatest.

More to the point, I think you're coming a little late to the table with saying that scrapbookers are spending large amounts of money, considering that the scrapbooking industry is on the decline, that many consumers are choosing not to spend as much of their discretionary income as years past, and that many scrapbookers are no longer able to enjoy their once plentiful scrapbooking budgets due to the lagging economy and less-than-stellar product choices.

So really, I'd love to know what the heck was your point regarding your article because I personally found it offensive and degrading and feel that you owe your audience, whomever they may be (I happened to read it as it was posted on a scrapbooking site) a great big apology for being so shallow, so narrow-minded and for using such a limiting approach to viewing such "crazy" scrapbookers. – Katie Scarlett, Scrapbook News & Review

I Will Never Apologize.

My life certainly isn't "I scrap-therefore I am." I started scrapbooking for a number of reasons. I have always been creative. I've done the knitting, painting, tin punch, flower arranging, etc. I have never stuck with any craft as long as I have scrapbooked. Do I scrap a lot? Yes. Have I made many books as gifts where the receiver is in tears upon looking through it? Yes. Have I made books that will last generations for my children, grandchildren, etc., to know who we are, where we've been, and how much we love one another? Yes. I could only wish I had books about my grandparents and great-grandparents depicting their lives and how they lived them. Also. if you looked online at the Creating Keepsakes and Two Peas galleries you will see many many layouts about surviving cancer; going on after losing a child, parent, or spouse; and/or just having a plain bad day.

I will never apologize for making scrapbooks for my children to have for many, many years to come. The layouts they look at bring back great memories of vacations, everyday life, school and family. I've even made scrapbooks giving them everyday advice.

I find it interesting that you are bashing the people (yes, not just women; men do scrapbook) who are involved in a hobby that you should be supporting.

Here's what validates my life: Giving birth to three children; making sure my children are healthy and happy; having my children see how much their parents love each other, taking care of my parents when they need me, being their for my brother when his daughter died, and much much more.

Just because someone scrapbooks doesn't mean they have no other life. Do you have no validity just because you write small articles for the hobby industry? – Julie Begeron

Ethics and Fair Play.

I read your commentary and I have to say that I think you are off base. I don't scrapbook anymore; not because I think it's dumb or that I'm too cool to scrapbook, but I just don't have much time these days.

When I did scrapbook, I was both a "Suzy Scrapbooker" and a "Debbie Designer" (to use the current derogatory terms). I was published (once) and I was on a design team for a kit club for about eight months. I enjoyed. it, but I didn't think I was all that special.

The CK HoF mess caught my attention because it was about ethics and fair play. I didn't even know who Kristina Contes was until this whole thing blew up, but the way she handled herself (with what seemed to me to be demeaning superiority and an extreme sense of entitlement) rubbed me the wrong way. Kind of like your article did.

When I did scrapbook, I most certainly did scrap the unpleasant things along with the happy times, although I admit that in the beginning I only made the sunshine-and-daisies type of layouts. But after about a year of that I realized that it was an incomplete picture, so I began to scrap other things that were going on in my life: I scrapped my two-year-old daughter throwing a tantrum for what seemed like the millionth time; I scrapped about my brother-in-law's fight with cancer and his subsequent death; I scrapped about parenting mistakes; I scrapped about loss and depression. I scrapped about all of it because my life isn't perfect.

"Selective Memories"? Very clever, but in my experience it's inaccurate. And also very insulting.

Your article spent more time in exasperation with the "Suzy's" who demand fairness and accountability of the industry that feeds their hobby (as though it was a quaint but antiquated notion) than it did with the problems of the contest. No, it's not Iraq. But I don't see people minimizing other mundane pastimes because "It's not Iraq."

Why is it ok to trivialize this? Why isn't the real story cheating to win at all costs? Or the uneven playing field when it comes to these contests? Or better still, why the industry continues to brush aside legitimate customer complaints?

It's a pity that the waters are muddied by blaming the current mess on those who expect that when rules are set, they should be followed. It would be nice to see the media sharply focused on what went wrong, rather than on who to blame. – Erin Olander

(Note: We exchanged emails and Erin added the following.)

I will grant that some people took this thing way too far. I think the "Internet detective" thing is freaky in the extreme but that kind of behavior seems to be here to stay, and not just in the scrapbooking community. Recently I've heard about college graduates being Googled by potential employers to see if anything negative comes up, and that seems to be similar to the "detecting" that people hate so much in scrapbooking and/or on Two Peas.

As for the feeding frenzy that went on over the HoF, I don't know why anyone would spend that much time trying to find out about someone they don't know and most likely never will know. At the same time I think this behavior has its roots in the perceived lack of concern with customer satisfaction.

I'm not sure where the line between enthusiasm and obsession lies. I've never run across anyone I would consider obsessed. I've heard stories, but I always figured that if, for instance, someone chose to attend every single CK event for three years running, then they must be able to afford it. I know I went a little crazy when I scrapbooked and bought every new thing that came on the market, but I could afford it.

Now though, it does seem like wasted money, because it's all sitting in my craft room collecting dust, waiting for the day I have the time to scrap again. So does that make me an enthusiastic supply collector? Yeah, I think so. But that doesn't make me bitter or jealous over a contest that I didn't even enter.

Scrapping Every Emotion.

I am an avid scrapbooker and photographer. I won an honorable mention in a Tamron contest sponsored by Creating Keepsakes, one of my favorite scrapbook magazines. If you view this press release:

www.tamron.com/news/corp/emotionalappeal_contest_winner_2006.asp  the photo of the crying baby on the far left side of the header is my darling child. You can read more about it if you scroll down to the "crying baby" paragraph in the press release.

And yes, I will absolutely use that photo on a scrapbook layout. Because, I, like many other scrapbookers, display every kind of emotion on my pages, as part of my "happy life." A REAL, happy, life.

In regard to your article, though some of it may be true, I found the article to be very brief, lacking actual facts, and written through the warped tunnel-vision of whoever provided you with the initial idea to write your commentary. Kind of like this email: I don’t have a lot of time to waste responding to you because I would rather be spending time with my kids. – Joanna Bolick

The Good and the Bad.

We are NOT only scrapbooking the happy things. Please go to Two Peas (or any other message board) and look in people's galleries. You will notice that it's about documenting your life, the good and the bad.

My number one goal is to leave something behind for my children. I want my children (and grandchildren) to know what kind of a life I lived and what my thoughts are. I keep scrapbooking about how much I love them. Maybe I will never get the chance to tell them in person. Does this really makes me crazy? No, I don't think so. I wish my grandparents scrapbooked, so I could know who they were. – Emine Pala

A Hermit?

May I assume that you are a hermit who has no need for human contact? If you live with a family (or visit them), belong to a church, play on a sports team, root for a sports team, are a member of any club, book group, or if you have any friends, then you have a need for community. – Jenny Adams Powers

Two Types of Women.

Many scrapbookers, myself included, DO in fact scrapbook the hard moments – fights, accidents, crying kids, life-altering events, etc. as a way of processing their emotions and thoughts about those experiences, as a way of remembering those moments because they, too, shape who we are and who we are becoming. That's something you need to recognize.

In fact, I often bring my more intense scrapbook pages in for my therapist to see; she and I both see my art-making as a positive way to begin to understand my own experiences and what they mean in the context of the person I am becoming.

The other distinction your words made me want to articulate is that there are women who are obsessed with scrapbooking, and then there are women who are obsessed with the scrapbooking industry and scrapbooking websites. These are two very different types of women.

I and many of my friends create every day. I make cards, layouts, art-journals, collages, and anything else that suits my fancy. I use my scrapbook supplies and also all kinds of found objects in these endeavors. I am obsessive about my need to create. I do enjoy sharing my work with other scrappers (my website of choice is www.scrapinstyletv.com) and receiving feedback.

However, my involvement with this website's community is not paramount to my daily life. I do not sit on message boards and talk about what trendy new supplies I'm hoarding these days, or how I really should be scrapping but I'm gonna sit here and chat instead. To be perfectly honest, I found a lot of those types of comments on www.twopeasinabucket.com – that's why I stopped participating over there. It seemed to me that many of the folks involved in that website's community were more involved with the website and the scrap-celebrity gossip than they were with ACTUAL scrapbooking.

And therein lies the rub: those women have lots of power in this industry because, while they may not scrapbook very often or very well, they DO buy a lot of magazines, tools, and supplies. They DO spend a lot of time on the websites. They DO feed the celeb-machine of the scrapbooking industry. They are the bread-and-butter of the industry. So when they all sit back and howl, the industry listens, or at least CK did.

The other thing is this: the scrapbooking industry, for the most part, caters to a predominantly white, straight, upper-middle-class, Christian community. There are many narrow minds out there who do not tolerate difference very well. As a single, gay New Yorker with radical leftist politics, my Self was only welcomed in the mainstream scrapbooking community as much as it was whitewashed.

This characteristic of the industry is something that Kristina Contes has always contested, just by her very being. She's not a soccer mom. She may go to church almost every Sunday, but she also drinks beer, uses the f-word, has lots of queer friends, and scrapbooks introspectively. These things about her started the let's-hate-kc club long before the HOF fiasco took place.

Anyway, thanks for asking for the words of scrappers out there, and thanks for trying to understand the issues at hand. – Name Withheld

Scrap It All.

I would like to explain to you that I scrap many things in my life that are far from happy, the death of my infant was scrapped, my teenage son and his challenging behavior, my feelings from a pretty cruddy childhood, the desertion of my 8 year old by her father, the war in Iraq, 911, so please get a better understanding of the "average scrapbooker" before you paint us all as crazy and obsessed. I have had pages published that were of my daughter and her first day of kindergarten, I have submitted other pages that weren't published I didn't slit my wrist. The HoF fiasco is just that, a fiasco, but please look at the entire hobby and not just a snap shot. Thank you. – Michelle Chasteen

Love Art and Photography.

I am a 30 year old woman. I have a son. I am happily married. I am a teacher. We travel often. I have other hobbies. I love photography. I love art. I put the two together and love to create scrapbooks for my family, for me. I do write about and take pictures of the "hard stuff." I want my albums to reflect real life, and they do.

The Hall of Fame drama? Not my thing. But scrapbooking? Photography? My creative outlet. I have attached a page for you to look at. One with simple thoughts that were in my head when I created it. Something I would LOVE to have of my mom or grandmother. I also take lots of pictures of the happy moments. Birthday parties, Riding a bike with no training wheels for the first time, vacations, playing in the grass – and I do go back and look and it does make me happy, but it doesn't define my happy life any more than remembering that moment does.

Unlike golf where you play your game, have your fun with friends, and go home. I can keep these memories forever. I am not trying to change your mind. You have your opinion and I have mine. And That is OK. But my opinion happens to be that you are wrong. Not about everyone. But about me. – Holly A. Terra


Anyway... to answer this question "Does a scrapbook full of smiling relatives validate your life?" Ok, let's leave the smiling relatives out of it because they aren't always smiling. Actually, there are some pictures of me looking pissed off. And I'm the kind of scrapper that uses all her photos – I'm not selective. choosing only the best. (Shh. Don't tell some of the others, but I call that REAL scrapbooking.)

Yes, it does. Actually it does two things (besides giving some people a creative outlet. For some, it's all about the art. IMO, there's scrapbooking and there's artbooking, but I digress...) 1. It helps you to remember, at least in part, the lives of you and/or people you know. Don't most people like to think back on the past? As time marches on, that gets harder. It's a way to bring back some of those memories. Especially things you miss that are passed, like when your kids were little. You can't go back, but a scrapbook is better than nothing. 2. And this is the answer to your question: yes, it does validate your life. It says "Look at me. I was here. I existed. I was real. And this is just a tiny glimpse of that." – Tam



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