Scrapbooks from an Artist’s Perspective


The creation of scrapbooks is for everyone – even the artist or the photographer. It blends art, memories, keepsakes and history all together and the final result is one to be treasured.

Face it; there are still people who haven’t experienced scrap books. In fact most artists and photographers roll their eyes upwards into their skulls when they hear the word scrapbooks. The die hard artists and photographers throw their hands upward and form a cross with their fingers as if they were thwarting off vampires. To them, the very mention of the word scrap booking is something that you need to wear a talisman to ward off.

Some artist’s and photographers who do venture (out of sheer curiosity) into the scrapbook specialty stores, walk out with an overwhelming sensation of commercialism. From the graphic artist’s perspective, thoughts cry out “I can do that with software!” and “well it’s easy to just glue things together, anyone can do that”. Cries of “I can do my own watercolors or pastels” emanate from painters and statements from illustrators are made that it lacks that one hundred percent handmade touch. Photographers seem to have the common philosophy that well composed shots tell the story anyways and there is no need for all the extra stuff on the page. When creative scrapbookers bring up the subject of page layout to photographers the response is often “use 8×10 photographs then there is no need for page layout”.

Artist community

Why such a response from the artist community? The reason is simple. They have not yet had a need to create a true scrapbook. Just what is a true scrapbook? What is this trend all about? The true scrapbook is not something new; it is something that has been done for generations. The true scrapbook holds real objects from the event, decade or time period. Scrapbooks carry the mementos and memories. It combines the actual items with photographs, papers, and embellishments that reflect a journalistic style. The journalistic style is what tells the story. If an artist creates a book of all illustrations or paintings it is not really a scrapbook it is considered a collection. If a book is created with all photographs it is then a photo album. If a graphic artist creates a book all digitally including photos, graphics, text, and layout it becomes more of a journal without the keepsakes. Keepsakes are the focus of scrapbooks.

Combining Perspectives

The fact is that scrapbooks offer integration of all the perspectives of the artist, photographer and graphic artist. The graphic artist can print digital designs on the beautiful scrapbook paper – even the fancy paper! Painters and illustrators can really emphasize the story by blending original art with the actual keepsake objects. Photographers can have even more fun with alternative processes (either in the darkroom or digitally) and through utilization of the square format of the 12×12 inch album, page layout can be incorporated with 8×10 photographs. Mixing the keepsake objects with the photographs lifts the common restrictions of traditional sizes. Custom sized photographs are encouraged!

Contrary to the artist’s belief that scrapbooks are all about pictures and glue; it is really about keepsakes stored in pages that are contained in a binder which relates the story to the viewer. Just what are considered keepsakes? Well, that is pretty much in the eye of the beholder, but all keepsakes are actual objects from the time something happened. Traditional keepsakes include newspaper clippings, marriage announcements, invitations and birth announcements. Not so traditional keepsakes can be anything to the first business card, the first dollar the entrepreneur earned, ticket stubs or even the little pretty party favor bag from the reception which used to contain candy. The idea is that the objects are actually from the event, party, ceremony or vacation.

Artists, graphic artists and photographers need not to shy away from scrapbooks. If an artist finds themselves in a position to plan or create a scrapbook for an event, don’t hesitate. Arm yourself with ideas for gathering keepsakes and do what you do best – create!

Below are some keepsake gathering ideas, keep in mind anything goes!

  1. Vacation or Travel: postcards, stamps, travel ticket stubs (ship cruises, airlines, tours, etc), museum pamphlets.
  2. From that Special Someone: pressed flowers, poetry, writings, greeting cards, labels from the gift of champagne or wine, ticket stubs from dates.
  3. Weddings: invitations, copy of vows, package decorations from special presents, ribbons, bows, confetti, artificial flowers, engagement announcements, party favors (non-perishable), imitation wedding rings off the ring pillow.