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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 industry.

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 scrapbooker.

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 nanally@gmail.com.)



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