Category Archives: Creative Journey

impossible.

Standard

I’ve been spending some time deleting old documents and files I don’t need anymore, and I found this typed in a word document. I’m sure it’s someone’s quote… from something… I’m sorry I didn’t write it down! whoever said it, well done. I couldn’t agree more.

above all remember that more often than not, the only thing standing in your way is YOU. No excuses. There’s no such thing as “try” (do or do not…) This is something I remind myself, and try to live by. For today though, I think I’ll focus on some “impossible” things…

digital tag used was purchased from houseof3.com

today I started pinterest.

Standard

once upon a time…

First of all – I have had ZERO, no, less than zero interest in www.pinterest.com since hearing about it. I think the problem was – the way I was seeing it in use had me thinking it was not at all what it really was. It sounded like some kind of time/soul sucking home decor nightmare I wanted nothing to do with. Lots of weird, hipster, modern, and not for me stuff is what I was thinking.

a few weeks ago…

I’ve been majorly frustrated with my inspiration journals. I don’t want to print every cute idea I see on-line – and even if I did most often imgs are too tiny to really print well so the idea is lost. OR I put into my “favorites” folder and then I can’t remember why I’ve got links/where they are.  I’ve been posting a lot of inspiration on my BPC on-line class message boards and it’s been frustrating to me that I have to go through so much to save the inspiration I want to use in future/share at some future date…

Then a friend mentioned pinterest. I snarled. gagged. Told her what I really thought.

Then she explained it better than I’ve ever had it explained! Think of it as an inspiration journal, a file-folder filled with the things you want to remember. Recipes, party ideas, crafting ideas, tutorials, household stuff, fashion, things you want to buy when you’ve got the budget… ANYTHING you want to be able to pull up in a flash. A place to save favorite blog posts and ideas that would otherwise get lost.

ok, so I don’t have to look at drift wood carvings or diapers made from hemp? oh…..

I signed up. Um, but apparently you can’t just sign up, and it took a week (maybe 2?) before I got an email saying “ok, you can be a member now”.

7am PST today…

You have to use facebook or twitter to sign up (which basically pulls your profile photo + suggests people you know) – that’s ok I guess. Then you’re off. You can make “pin boards” and name them whatever you like. Make their contents as vague or specific as you want.

You can keep editing/adding/changing. I love that. I also love that you can make notations when you pin something. Sorta like sticking a post-it or drawing an arrow & adding a note when you’re working with an inspiration journal.

above you see the start of my “color” board.

You can also choose to follow people’s boards which basically means on the home page you’ll see when/what they add. You could follow ALL their boards – or just some. I’m finding most of the time I only want to follow some because of the way/focus I’m planning on using this.

(above are some of Stephanie Howell’s boards that I’m following)

Here’s my home page right now…

When you go to the home page – you’ll see a live-feed of what YOU and the people you’re following are adding and loving… you can “re-pin” onto your own board(s), choose to ‘love’ something, or leave a comment. Here you see me re-pinning something I found on the JBS (Jenni Bowlin) page…

But you could also IGNORE that entirely and just be an island. do/add your own things and look at nothing else. Truly use it as an inspiration file folder…

That’s what really got me – the fabulous blogs I read? Websites I surf? All you do is add the “pin it” button to your favorites and then you can pin anything. anywhere. anytime. A window will pop up where you leave your note, select a board you’re putting it on, and click pin.

Recipes. Books. Color. Party ideas. holidays. fashion. shopping wish-list. photography inspiration. tutorials. DIY. crafty goodness. Seriously – SO MUCH I get inspired by and want to save – and now it’s easy and instant.

So easy. so sweet. AND it’s going to save me crazy amounts of time. I spend SO MUCH TIME searching for “that thing I saw that one time a year or two ago…” and when uninspired I think it’ll be a great place to refresh and renew my creative self.

So now I ask – are you on pinterest? How do you use it? Who are your favorites to follow? Link me up so I can check you out too! Not on there but have questions? Ask away!

you can find me here: http://pinterest.com/mayflaum

4×6 is how I roll.

Standard

“You’re like, so old school” is something I was recently told regarding my photo preferences, and after I finished laughing I thought maybe I should do a blog post about it…

It’s a kind of a part of my creative journey… and one that I want to share. I often get asked (regarding my Big Picture Scrapbooking classes) what photo sizes to print/what students need to do to be ready. My answer? Good ‘ol 4×6’s work just dandy. It’s what I work from most all of the time!

Once upon a time I wanted so desperately to be COOL. To be the girl that could do the amazing things that those totally awesome + popular scrapbookers were doing with tiny photos. huge photos. all kinds of odd sized photos but no regular 4×6 print sized jobs. I printed out 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 prints when I ordered batches of photos so that I too could be cool. When I first got my photo-quality printer I did a good deal of custom size printing too.

So why did I stop a few years back?

Three reasons:

  1. The cost. It was eating up my budget – both ink/paper + cost of enlargements in every batch of pictures
  2. It ate up my time budget. As mom of one baby, my time was in short and precious increments. To plan a layout in my mind, then print photos, then go make layout it was insane.
  3. I ended up happier with layouts made with 4×6 prints more often than not.

 These days if I print from home it’s because I have a specific idea or digital template I want to play with, or I am on deadline and have some odd size print that I want. I work from 4 x 6 prints about 99% of the time, and those prints are ordered from costco.com or www.scrapbookpictures.com. I’ve really come to LOVE www.scrapbookpictures.com for quality, speed, and ease of use. I like that if a photo is slightly off (color) they auto-correct BEAUTIFULLY and I can skip that step altogether.

When it comes to pictures – I’m all about saving time so I can PLAY with them!

I’ve always been a “print the pics you want” vs a print as you go girl. Reason #1? Not trusting technology/backing up/myself to remember to ever print. I don’t want photos lost. I’d MUCH rather have hard copies. I love them. They inspire me so. I do have digital back-up, but since 2005 I’ve gone back and re-printed a photo… twice at most.

Having photos on hand changes the creative process too. There is the wonderful ability to just scrap. No need for printer to be working or ink to be full – you’re already there. GO! scrap! enjoy! It also lets me see photos in unexpected combinations at times, and I do enjoy cropping my photos too. I do that a lot – it just depends on the page.

Sometimes I see layouts from awesome ladies who have used tiny photos printed special. or HUGE photos. These days I mostly appreciate their talent, but don’t try to copy them. I am ok with not following their path. I stay here in 4 x 6 land.

It should be said that:

  1. I am ruthless. Blurry, useless, too many duplicate/similar images, repetitive, and/or not loving them images are DELETED from my files. Same with photos taken just for the blog here or photographic experiments. DELETED. I’m not printing out as many photos as you might imagine because I cull the herd first. I do sometimes save imgs but not print if I can’t quite hit delete but don’t want them now.
  2. I am lazy when it comes to a lot of stuff. I do not want to be responsible for having supplies on hand to print pictures out or dealing with all of that. Upload files + hit order is much more my style. Even better? When pictures are delivered to me at home. Unless I’ve planned a trip to Costco, then I don’t mind picking up.
  3. I think it’s cheaper per print and better quality. Only at my printer’s best, with top of the line paper am I happy with prints. SO much cheaper to just let professionals print for me.
  4. I don’t do much photo editing outside of the awesome-tastic button known as “auto correct”. Oh I can, I just don’t. For me it’s like homework and I’d MUCH rather play with products + photos vs just editing pics.
  5. I want the photos to be a BIG part of my pages. Not something I make tiny to allow room for more embellishing and not something I make huge so there’s no room for embellishing. 4 x 6 is a place of balance for me.

Do I think everyone should print out like me? NO! I just thought it might be a good topic to blog about and let it be known that this girl thinks it’s A-OK to not print yourself. There are a lot of us who like the challenge of making it work with multiple photos that are standard print size. That cropping of photos post-printing and having a stack of pictures (literally!) to-scrap is a-ok. Heck – having boxes of photos that are NEVER going to be scrapbooked is ok too!!!

One of my favorite childhood activities was going through photographs. I loved seeing myself, my family, people I barely remembered, events I cherished all captured in the images within the photo box. I keep that image (of my own children) in my mind vs fretting over the “haven’t been scrapped” photos. It’s ok. Some are going to be boxed. Others in albums. It’s ALL wonderful.

Follow the path that works for you, and enjoy.

Team Tim

Standard

I have had a few blog readers ask if I will talk about meeting craft industry “celebrities”. I do have a few good stories and today I thought I’d share one that is pretty darn special to me.

The first few times I “met” Tim Holtz would have been as a local store manager attending (as a buyer) trade shows. I remember thinking he was straight up awesome + really good at teaching about his product.

 In April of 2005, I met up with Tim at Scrapbook Territory. When I say “met up” I mean I spent what was to my budget a good deal of money to take a class from him. It was worth EVERY cent. Truly the best three hours – and my first ever break from then 2 month old Elizabeth. (In the picture you can see Tim holding up her current photo… wild. She’s starting Kindergarten this month!!

This layout celebrating that meeting/class makes me cringe – but darn it I was trying SO HARD to find my style and do my own thing. If you want to read more about my creative journey you can see the posts so far here. What did we make in class?

The class was all about distress inks, and much of the knowledge I gained (as well as at least 10 ink pads that I purchased) are still with me and working today. I totally loved how grungy and vintage his style was – and I really started to get that I too am a lover of vintage style.

What really got me about this class was how he taught. The play and variation, the personal expression that he encouraged, and especially the boxes of treasure to sort through and use. Rather than a kit, we could play and enjoy a huge variety which resulted in everyone having a totally custom little book.

It was an important creative day for another reason – I had a major breakthrough on this day. You see I’d recently announced that I would not be returning as a store manager but instead stay home with Elizabeth. I still wanted to work creatively, but my confidence had taken some brutal beatings.

 But something happened in this class, something that would stick in my mind and become an anchor that kept me going, tiny as it was. I turned a screw around.

You see how I have one screw facing each way in my binding? I will never forget what happened as Tim was walking around in class. He picked up my book and asked how-why – just how had I thought to do something so cool and funky? My response was that it had seemed obvious I liked both sides and wanted to see both front and back. The kind words and creative praise I received as he continued to look at my book meant the world to me. Truly – it was EXACTLY what my confidence and creative spirit had needed in that moment.

I kept that praise and positive experience close in my heart and as a part of my confidence as I tried to make it as a freelance designer in this industry. I would remind myself that I had GOOD creative ideas in my brain and keep going, chin held high.

Over time I needed to lean on that memory less and less, to the point that it faded into more of a fond memory than anchor to my creative confidence. My respect and admiration of Tim Holtz grew nearly as much as his product lines. The way he stands behind everything he does, produces excellent quality items, and truly is passionate about what he does has always been admirable to me. Every trade show rolls around, and EVERY time I think “there’s no way he’s got something new and cooler than last time”… and yet he does. EVERY year.

I’ve seen Tim demo here and there at trade shows, and I even got tomeet up at Winter 2010 CHA – which was extra fun. I tell you he sold me on everything… even a die cut machine. (I know that’s SHOCKING for me – more on that some other day). He also challenged me to try his scissors (which I now consider my #1 pair) and I found myself noting that over time, even with all his success, he’s still very much “Tim” and is still very much a person I’d want to hang out with.He’s still doing things his way and I still consider myself very much a fan.

So imagine how I felt when he e-mailed me and asked me to be a part of this…

My reaction was first to wish for a time machine, travel back to April 2005 and tell that low-confidence new mama (me) to keep up the good work and give her a wink. Then I did a dance. Then I looked behind me to make sure the email wasn’t for the person standing behind me… it wasn’t.

So, that’s my Tim Holtz (celebrity crafter extraordinare) story so far. Now I get to work with even more of his stuff – and can reasonably e-mail him a bit more without being considered over the top fan or crazy lady. Excited? That doesn’t even begin to cover the range of emotion I’ve got going on – I think INSPIRED is a better word, because at the root that’s how I really feel.

Inspired to chase down my craziest ideas. To create. To do things MY way because it feels right. To be me. You’ll be seeing more projects from me right here too – so it’s a great thing all around.

Thanks to Tim – for being more of a part of my past than he knew, and for this fantastic opportunity… and new chapter in my creative journey.

Creative Revolution: Don’t Fence Me In.

Standard

I have been doing a series of posts about my creative journey, and today I have a new offering to share. If you’ve ever taken one of my scrapbook classes than you know how I feel on the subject of being fenced in or limited in what you can do with the material I teach. I say: NO RULES. JUST CREATE. I didn’t quite used to be that way, but three or four years ago I really started to get it, to get to that place. Who am I to say what you can and can’t do on YOUR project? Nobody, that’s who. I’m just a girl that likes to play with paper + scissors, and I like to see other people create from a place of love as well.

With that thought in mind, I was listening to my ipod the other day, and Don’t Fence Me In (sung this time by Harry Connick Jr) really caught my attention. It made me think of that time in my creative revolution when I was in full internal revolt.

Let me be by myself in the evening breeze
Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in

Just turn me loose
Let me straddle my old saddle underneath the Western skies
On my cayuse
Let me wander over yonder ’til I see the mountains rise
I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences
Gaze about the moon until I lose my senses
Can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in

I didn’t want to have a defined style, didn’t want to be labeled, didn’t want to be fenced in creatively.

Is that such a bad thing? I was really, really sick to death of hearing people go on and on and on about “_x_” style or “-y-” style or wanting to be more graphic or more shabby chic or more… GAH! ENOUGH!! I was equally sick of hearing that I’d need to be more ___ to be accepted to ___ team, or ____ to be published by ____ magazine. Know what? I really doubt that when anyone (now or then) looks at my scrapbook they’re thinking about what my “style” is or if I’m in the right “trends”.

puh-leeeeeze. That’s not why I scrapbook or do creative things and the more I felt pressured to conform to certain standards, the more I felt fenced in and howled in misery. Then slowly, bit by bit, piece by piece I just let go. Of ALL of the insecurities, all the expectation, all that internal pressure. LET IT GO.

Above – a layout I did (on MY terms!) for a Jenni Bowlin design team contest. I lost the contest, but didn’t mind.  My projects? Pure win.

Below – an 8 1/2 x 11 page that (three years later) remains a favorite.

Ultimately, I really had to figure out that I’d been changing and growing my whole life, and if I wanted to be happy I had to understand that the growth and change would keep happening – for the rest of my life. The earth, my life… it’s all in motion all the time. So just go with the flow.

Do I ever fail? Oh HECK YES!! I have had some MASSIVE fails creatively and professionally. Who succeeds in life that doesn’t have a few (or a lot of) fails? NOBODY!

Do I ever wish I was back in the corral all fenced in where it’s safe? YES.

It can be scary to be out in the land of no rules. To choose trail blazing instead of following the set path. I battle insecurity, fear, and that poor inner 13-year old awkward girl in me that is sure nobody is gonna like her too. Want to know how I battle all those baddies?

Sometimes I confide in someone I trust. Other times? I lay it all out there. I confess to being a bookwormy nerd, a romance and happy ending loving freak, a big footed, fat battling, un-hip 31 year old mom who just wants to focus on the happy side of life wherever she can.

I stay true to ME. If what I’m doing in my creative (and ‘real’) life feels right and true, it’s good. If it doesn’t work out? If I fail professionally or I get laughed at? That’s ok too. I can choose not to walk down that path again, but I don’t have to alter who I am, or what I do. I can just find some other direction.

Bottom line for this once upon a time cowgirl? To be true is to be free, and to roam in the wide open (not fenced-in) spaces.

 I’m not just talking craft her either. You see, in this liberation of my creative self I was at the same time liberating all of me. I realized, quite simply, it’s all tied into one simple thing: my life. The only person putting rules, restrictions, and guidelines on it at the end of the day was me. I’d fenced myself in and took quite a bit of joy (and some crazed late nights writing and being creative) in breaking free once again.

I choose to live it happy as I can, and free as possible.

questions? comments? as always I love to hear from you and will respond always. Thanks for reading dear friend.

Creative Journey: increasing Kraft

Standard

The creative journey continues forward! If you’re just joining me, I’ve been writing a series of posts about my personal creative journey. Today, a seemingly small topic: neutral colors of paper/cardstock…

What neutral are you? I know people who don’t go anywhere without a black purse. Those who prefer shades of grey, chocolate brown, cream over white… for ‘neutrals’ there is a lot of variety and possibility.

So I ask again, what neutral are you?

I didn’t know that  I had a neutral for a long time, but once I found it, it really helped me along.

Back in 2006 or so, I finally figured out that black or white are NOT good choices for me despite them being the popular and obvious choices. Cream and kraft are my best neutrals. They work the best with the papers I lean towards, the patterns and styles I go for, in other words – they’re more ME.

Now I’m strictly talking scrapbooking here – and it’s not to say I don’t work with white. No, I’m talking more in a ‘what cardstock do I use and neutral do I feature’ sense.

(layout above from December 2005)  It was sometime in 2006 that I figured it all out, and I found that I could still use black pen for my journaling (as I still do 99% of the time), that I wasn’t limited or fenced in, that knowing my neutrals simply freed me when I wasn’t sure which way to turn.

(page above from 2005) In fact, I could print on the kraft cardstock and use it anywhere, anyhow I liked. I even discovered that “shopping bag” colored acrylic paint was a good idea. You’ll note these pages I’m sharing aren’t my “best work” – but that’s ok. Why? Well sometimes seeing what you do and don’t like when looking at past pages doesn’t take the form of ‘best’. These are the layouts that helped me find my kraft love way back in the day, and so I share them with you for that reason.

Fear of failure in my craft projects? Work past it. Working past fear is the only way to have a great time and make new discoveries.

(above, layout from 2005) No, all my pages weren’t awesome, but finding out that I lean towards those neutrals, and making more of a focused effort to reach for them has been great for me creatively.

Finding my style meant a lot of going back to finished pages and noting what I did and didn’t use and like.

The supplies you buy and like vs the supplies you USE are two totally different things. A very noteworthy difference, especially when finding your style.

Finding my own style became less about putting a label on what I am, and more about figuring out what works for me, and getting a better understanding of what *I* like.

I’ve been trying to mix up my neutrals lately (just to stir the pot and keep it interesting) but it really hasn’t happened. I’m a kraft cardstock girl. I purchase it in packs of 25, and it will remain my #1 until some other color can do all that it does. For me, it’s the perfect neutral.

(above page from 2010 CHA show – all product outside cardstock is the girls’ paperie)

note: I’m a cardstock freak. I adore it. I even made an instant download class for Big Picture about it. More on cardstock, as well as more creative journey posts to come…

If you have any questions, or topics you wish I’d cover please do feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at mflaum @ comcast . net

Creative Journey: What I’m not.

Standard

I continue telling my creative story, and sharing old scrapbook pages too. If you have questions or perhaps chapter suggestions I’d love to hear them…

As I worked on figuring out what “my style” meant, I found  identifying what I was NOT was far easier. I mean – I like both wild shades of pink and bold paint strokes AND delicate lace. Grungy inked and sanded paper edges and rhinestone encrusted projects. Super girly stuff and more rugged looks. Lots of photos and single photos. I felt like a walking contradiction – and it was frustrating.

Some layouts (like the one below) I felt were close – they were pure “May” creations, if just a bit off in execution. So what wasn’t “May”?

The first thing was to realize that I was bad with really graphic papers and designs. Below is a layout (the I and Y have fallen off title, FYI) that is purely magazine copying/trendy attempt. In no way is it me. There is no journaling outside of the date. It’s truly a worthless page. There’s no heart here, and believe that I made note of it (back in ’05) when I was reviewing what I wasn’t.

I also wasn’t great forcing photos I wasn’t inspired to work with at the time. Weird things (like page below) would result.

I was into more creams and browns (not so much black & white for paper choice), and I was NOT good at preventing trapped white space, or planning for my titles. The example below is a page that I felt like almost made it to great – it was so close to the vision in my head – but not quite.

I also didn’t like when I worked with trendy product just because it was the thing to do. Not only did it feel false, but the pages always seemed a bit off to me. As I found more things I didn’t want in my scrapbooking, I also found things I did. The hardest thing for me had to be breaking free of what was expected.

The only person judging me, or critiquing with heavy expectation, was me!

I still don’t have what I consider a “style” in the traditional sense. I had to embrace that I’d never fit into a neat cubby like “linear” or “clean” or “shabby” all the time. Guess what? That is OK! You don’t have to put a label on your style. Just having it, just being intentional and personal in your choices makes it so. ENJOY.

Other things I accepted I wasn’t was good at layering tons of patterned papers, working with striped papers, titles (I still struggle!), warm colors, keeping things super simple, balance, and so much more. In finding what I wasn’t good at I was also discovering what I did NOT want to be. In doing this, I exposed what I did want in general terms, and found myself with goals and things to shoot for.

I wanted pages with more journaling and stories. Pages that looked pleasing to my eye. More fun stuff. Pretty colors. Trendy stuff only when it spoke to and suited ME. I just wanted to be May.

Turns out, it wasn’t too much to ask…

Creative Journey: it’s all about ME.

Standard

It might sound goofy, but the more I became at peace with my crafting style, the more I was at peace with myself in general. Accepting myself, my flaws, my quirks, and my individuality are things that could be put into any context of life. Though I didn’t realize it at first, getting myself to a happy crafting place would be one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

Today I’d like to talk about me. Now I realize both being a blogger and scrapbooker I do both on a regular basis, and this whole ‘creative journey’ series I’ve been sharing is, well, about me. I actually mean it in a more literal sense today though, as I’m going to share ‘all about me’ layouts from 2005-2006, also known in my scrapbook history as my time of greatest change.

When I was teaching at local stores and retreats I used to teach a number of “all about me” classes as well as making a lot of ME pages. I don’t make loads anymore, and honestly I think it’s because there aren’t things I’m working out in a way that makes me inspired to do lots of just me pages at the moment. If I had a story or thought I wanted to share in this way, I sure would.

For a while, though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was figuring out who I was as a crafter through scrapbooking about myself.

One of the worst things I ever did was to try to pin myself into a set “style”. I just don’t fit into any of the neat little boxes and doing my wild “me” pages with no rules or ideas held back helped me see this. I had so much pent up and held back creativity (from trying to fit in) that when I started doing these pages I exploded.

I went wilder than I like, but I think I had to. Take it to the far end just because I could to free myself. What I see as I look back at these pages was a woman who’d caged herself in and was breaking free at a full run.

I actually did art journal quite a bit during these times, though mine ended up more diary style than creative/technique heavy. Even with that release (and FANTASTIC outlet to improve my writing skills) I still needed to muck up my pages – to rebel against “the man” who was telling me to keep it simple & clean.

reminder: no man or woman was actually telling me that I had to do this, it was all self-inflicted.

Basically, I was giving myself permission to do whatever I wanted. Anything at all. I’d just sit and do whatever I felt like – to heck with design qualities or the end result. I was really trying to break free of my newly learned bad habits in scrapbooking.

I needed to “mess up” pages and be ok with it.

The page above happened late one night. I was working on my 2005 Memory Makers masters entry and trying to please the judges. Something happened and I snapped… in a good way ultimately. The page was a major ‘lightbulb’ moment in my creative journey.  Needless to say I didn’t win, or even get mentioned. Know what?  That was OK. More than ok because I was doing things my way, the way I wanted them done.

So what would I suggest to somebody looking to do stuff about themselves? Start anywhere. Just take a thought and run with it. Don’t worry about spelling or being right – just DO. Shut down your brain and play. If you’re more comfortable, work with a journal or notebook that feels less formal. You could do your favorites, something you worry about, things you like, a detail, a meal you learned to make… how personal or how big or small is up to you. It’s all good.

I even did a “me” page inspired by my Jr. High collages where I’d glue tons of things that I liked to a sheet of paper.

This remains one of my all time favorites. It’s messy, it’s got bits of favorites all over, and it was made purely in fun. Only for me.

because I can.

The “me” pages definitely helped me creatively. I realized that I am ok with having my own style but not fitting in one “official” style type. I also made the decision to embrace myself – flaws and all much as I can.

I will mention here that during 2005 is when I started my first blog. Forcing myself to sit down each day and think of something to share or write, writing about my process on creating a layout, and just the act of writing was helping me. Creativity is a muscle that must be worked out regularly in some way, and the more I got that, the happier I was.

The #1 thing I learned, by far, is that I would never be finished with the journey. I’d always be growing, changing, having new stories to tell and coming up with new ideas. I was never going to reach a place where I was done and my style and preferences would be set.

how could they?

As a new mother I had the time, but in much smaller chunks and not whenever I wanted as I had before. I was going to need to adjust to my baby’s schedule and I really needed to get better at identifying what does (and doesn’t) work for me as well as learning how to call on inspiration at will rather than waiting for ideas to come to me.

Now that I have my own ideas flowing strongly through my head (instead of what I think others want) things would keep getting better, this much I knew. I dyed my hair back to it’s normal shade of ‘boring’ dark brown eliminating my blonde highlights for good. I went back and looked at my layouts (all of them) making lists of good, bad, ugly, awesome.

I owned up, at long last, to just being ME. I accepted that I’d never be uber-cool or cutting edge. I’d never be a trendsetter or fashionista. I’d just be plain ‘ol me. Bookwormy, purple loving, creative mess of a brain, me.

 

Next installment to come next week: what doesn’t work for me. If you’ve got questions or want to see something in particular please feel free to ask!

creative journey: lost

Standard

I thank you all for the amazing responses to my creative journey. So many touching e-mails, and it makes me so happy to know that hearing my (very honest) story is moving to you. I’ve got a LOT more to say, I’ll keep posting installments as I’m ready. In sitting down to write the next chapter of my creative journey, it seems fitting that I got lost. I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell the tale in a way that makes sense, especially since I don’t consider my journey over, but rather I’m in the middle of it! Without further ado, here’s the next chapter…

In the first six months after Elizabeth was born I had a lot of time on my hands. I wasn’t working, and my darling girl took 4 – 6 1hr naps every day. This meant that I had little bits of time to scrapbook each day, and I was determined to find a place for myself in the industry. I submitted a LOT of layouts to the magazines. When I say a lot, I mean at least 100- pretty much every page I’d ever made. I also tried my hand at teaching for another few stores. Classes were hit or miss. I never knew what people would like or not like.

Not a one submitted page got picked up, and when I’d give up on a layout and posted it on my 2peas gallery they’d get mild praise, but never the pages & pages of comments I longed for. Shallow and lame of me? YES. At that time though, I was really just looking for praise of my work and confirmation that I had something to offer. That I had something worth sharing.

I spent over 8hrs on the layout above. You’d never know it to look at it, but I agonized and stressed over every detail on my layouts. This one I used foam dots to put a color photo of Elizabeth over a black & white of the same photo. I also hand-cut the title from a font. Looking at it objectively (now) I can see where I was going wrong, but in that time, in that moment I thought it was the best layout I’d ever made, and it was a turning point for me.

If this, my “best yet” layout didn’t get chosen by magazines or flooded with praise, who was to say anything I did would? Who was I scrapping for? Why did I think I needed to be something I’m not? More importantly: Was all this ‘pressure’ I felt to fit in from the industry, or was it all in my head?

The answer, of course, is that magazines or other scrappers don’t pressure a person to fit in. I’ve NEVER actually seen or heard this! But, in my mind at this time I thought I had to try and fit in, I’d pressured myself to the point of having no idea who I was creatively. Since I didn’t have a job, and was under no requirements to create for specific things, I figured out I was lost pretty darn quick. The real question was, how in the world would I figure out where I wanted to go?!

Believe it or not, the rejection (oh there was a LOT) and the lack of my popularity on-line didn’t upset me. I’d been competing (horse shows) since I was 10 years old, and I recognized that it wasn’t personal… I just wasn’t an it girl. I didn’t have a distinct style, and I was doing pages that I thought would please other people, but they didn’t.

I wasn’t enjoying my scrapbook time & process, so how could I expect anyone else to like what I was up to?

The layout above is one I did for a design team call. NOT the photos or look I’d have chosen for myself… but I wanted to win. I didn’t. If anything, I’m glad I got rejected repeatedly. I sent off letters, photos, e-mails, and such to every manufacturer I liked asking about designing for them. I either got “thanks for being a customer, we appreciate your support” or no reply period. Why, looking back, am I glad that I was repeatedly turned away?

It quickly forced me to realized that it wasn’t them, it was me. I was making what I thought “they” wanted… and they didn’t want it! So, logically, I quickly decided I ought to be focusing instead on what I wanted. Looking back this period felt like YEARS, when in fact it happened very quickly over the spring & summer of 2005. What I determined by the middle of summer was this:

  • I didn’t want to scrapbook “for” a magazine or anyone else. I wanted to scrapbook for my own joy & albums
  • I had NO clue what “May’s style” was
  • I needed to get better at title treatments
  • My photos were often cause of frustration. Not photos themselves, but placement
  • I sucked at journaling. I wasn’t telling stories, I was spouting off canned responses.
  • I missed making stuff up and playing as if nobody else was watching. Stuff like my DisneyWorld album.
  • Bottom line: I had lost my joy of scrapbooking AND I was unhappy with the pages I was producing.

I wasn’t happy with what I was making, it didn’t feel legit. It was time to figure out what my own style was, and what I liked.

One thing that was going great during this time was talking to (and becoming friends with) wonderful ladies on message boards. Some were working in the industry, others just enthusiastic scrapbookers like myself. I found encouragement, support, and friendship and that was huge. “Scrap-lifting” was (as it is now) quite popular, and I decided if I wanted to try and figure myself out scrapbook wise perhaps lifting some scrapbookers I liked would help me figure it out. This layout with all the ribbons is one such example.

This was one of my favorite pages (again, it was lifted)

You have to understand that I’m a nerd. I was never happy in school unless I knew I gave my very best, and that’s an attitude I use in my approach to much of my life. I want to give my best. If I am doing that, I can be satisfied. I KNEW that I wasn’t doing my best in scrapbooking (hello, many pages with NO journaling? lame!) In search of my own self-paced scrap lessons and figuring out where I wanted to go with my crafting I turned to lifting. The scraplifting helped me with 4 things:

  • I don’t like a lot of matted photos! Why I’d been so hard-core in matting I don’t know, but in lifting I discovered I prefered them (mostly) to be placed without the mats.
  • I got good at seeing the bones of layouts. Dissecting the pieces and design, figuring out what was so right about pages I admired.
  • I started noticing the details that I was drawn to, and finding things that work for me. Things that I said “yes, this feels right” when I was creating.
  • I always asked permission to ‘lift’, and I shared my take. Sometimes talking with the original designer gave me new ideas and insight, not to mention the chance to praise a fellow scrapbooker.

I didn’t find nirvana overnight, and that’s ok too. What I did find, was that it started to be fun again. That the joy I used to feel, the carefree feelings I used to have about scrapbooking started to come back.  I was still lost, but not nearly as I had been before.

My layouts were still nowhere near polished, I often made key errors, was terrible with patterned papers, and I walked down a lot of wrong roads in the Summer and Fall of 2005. That was ok with me. Why? If there was one thing I wasn’t afraid of, it was failure. You can’t find success without it, and sometimes crazy ideas worked out. I knew this, I’d spent 2 years as a scrapbook store manager trying out various classes and crops and promotions – I understood you had to swing and be ready for it to miss… or be a huge hit.

Mostly, I understood and respected that like anything, I needed to put the hours into my scrapbooking in order to figure out who I wanted to be and what my style is.

I needed to focus on me + my craft.

I started getting this wicked feeling too. That I could do ANYTHING I wanted and to heck with trends and rules. If I wanted to go back to detail cutting photos or make things messy on purpose or… well anything. I could. Shoot – I could start mixing stuff up if I wanted to. I could do ANYTHING if I so desired.

Scrapbook rules were made to be broken.

It was an intoxicating thought.  I don’t have to fit into one pre-determined “style”. Nor do I have to use specific brands. While I’m at it, I could just make art journals instead of layouts in the traditional sense. The only person stopping me, the only reason I couldn’t? ME.

 

I will try and post a new ‘journey’ post each week. I will be talking about process, finding and defining style, rules, and much more. I hope you enjoy and stay tuned. If you have any questions or comments I welcome them!

Creative Journey: LSS Manager

Standard

It’s time to talk about the years I spent as a Scrapbook store manager and my creative (scrapbook) journey. This was Summer 2003 – Spring 2005, nearly two years. I walked in thinking I knew my stuff and applied for a teaching position even though I’d never even taken a class. I walked out with an offer to manage the store. At the time I was working at a posh Napa resort that caters to the rich & famous (rooms from $600-2500+ a nite!), and while I loved working there the drive to/from work was killing me and I wasn’t so sure it was worth the pain. I had a shiny travel & hospitality degree I was happy to be using, but the offer of more money and working 10min from home was too great a temptation. I said yes.

I learned so much about classes, techniques, scrapbook companies, and what was trendy at any given moment. I learned about making class and sample pages (no photos used), making the most of product that wouldn’t sell, and of course managing a staff of crafters. I attended trade shows, taught classes, and generally had a great time. During this period I had three dogs at home, and a husband who went to work 24-72 hours at a time so I did most all of my scrapbooking there at the store. I was almost exclusively a “crop” girl – official or just random daytime use during store hours.

Having a very generous discount and access to most any product gave me a lot of choices. Keep in mind this was a time when Ali Edwards had just won Hall of Fame, Cathy Zielske’s first book was about to hit shelves, and companies were popping up every month. This is when Basic Grey first introduced their debut collections, when new product types were coming up all the time, when rub-ons for scrapbooking were a novel idea, and before Tim Holtz released his distress inks. I was there at the EK Elite event for retailers when they announced that they were going to make Disney Jolee’s – yep, I got to have a front row seat for much of the industry hey-day. It was a real good time to be in my position.

Here are some samples of my work from 03/04…

I did a lot of computer journaling (due to ugly handwriting), I was very concerned with the latest/greatest and being in style, and I often did not do journaling because I would finish “later”. (note I never did – see the New York page above). Above all though, I made pages I thought would get me praise from other crafters. Yeah, I shake my head thinking about it now but I wanted to be praised. I did what I thought would be cool. I used products I didn’t even like (but were trendy), and I agonized for HOURS over my creations. I would destroy pages that I felt didn’t meet my expectations, and I spent a lot of time being disappointed in myself.

I only crafted photos that I thought would make pretty pages (story/memory or not). Looking back I did some pretty wicked cool stuff – in fact I see some details I’d like to revisit. The key problem I had in making my pages “better” was simple: I didn’t have enough experience in layout design or knowledge to draw on in taking stuff and making it more finished, polished, and bringing it all together. I’d describe my pages during this time as full of interesting ideas but lacking forethought and follow through to completion.

But I was worse than a teenager with peer pressure. I was so totally hung up on people thinking I was all that, so caught up in wanting to get noticed, that I forgot what I was supposed to be doing.

Telling a story. preserving memories. having fun.

This Savanna page remains one of my favorites from his time period. I told my story, I got creative, I had fun. It didn’t work out for me this well very often, but happy creative “aha” pages like this one kept me going strong and trying, trying, trying. Each of those letters is a hand twisted wire with beads placed on it, then adhered to the twine. I already told you – this was a time when I was still going wild with the making things, and I was obsessed with beads on my pages.

It was during this time that I discovered www.twopeasinabucket.com and started posting there. I will confess that I posted in the gallery with the sole objective of getting people to say nice things about my stuff.

It really didn’t work.

I know I’m sharing with you the ugly side that can consume some scrapbookers but I do so because I feel like it’s important. I want you to know I’ve been there. That I fell victim to the self-inflicted pressure while still loving and enjoying the hobby and all the amazing goodies available to me.

In the end I left the store because I didn’t think I could do it to my high standards and still give my new family (Elizabeth had just been born) the attention and love they deserved. I wanted to stay on as a creative team member but the owner didn’t have paying work to give me, so I had to leave all together. Things would get worse before they get better – but I was too stubborn, and too in love with my hobby to quit. I had ideas in my head that weren’t translating right. Pages that had good ideas but didn’t quite come together. I was very frustrated, and looking back I know it was because I was so very close to a personal breakthrough but couldn’t see how to get there or what to do.

My years of living here with three dogs and scrapbooking socially whenever I wanted, drinking too much Starbucks and eating out way too often were overall happy ones. I did capture memories like my dog’s anal gland surgery (complete with “stitches” on the pages) and I learned so much from embossing powders to stamping to engraving to – well let’s just say I tried darn near every product released for scrapbooking.

Professionally all of the information I gained has served me well, though personally when I moved on from the store I had no clue who I was, or what I liked in scrapbooking. In the first year of Elizabeth’s life I was going to have to figure out – what does MAY really like? Who is she as a scrapbooker, and what’s her style?

The downside of all the sample pages, class samples, and scrapping to impress others was that I didn’t know what I actually liked anymore. I would have to figure it all out, and decide what my goals were professionally – not to mention how to achieve them. I knew one thing though: I was NOT a fan of that darn Cathy Zielske, no matter how nice she was in person at the trade show. She was doing these insanely minimalist pages that customers were wanting to see more of and I SUCKED at minimalist graphic looking pages. I spent many a day trying to recreate her looks and got ugly pages and eye twitches.

 The minimalist trend was killing me… and yet… it would be what freed me.

Stay tuned