Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Designs - Making them Your Own

There was a discussion last week at the Paper Clipping Roundtable about project design and design teams. It reminded me of how I scrapbook and some of the basic things about scrapbooking that I, personally find important. First let me tell you a story about my first tole painting class in 1986. I paid for the class then purchased all the supplies the instructor had listed. A wood surface, brushes, paints, sandpaper, etc. The project was a certain piece of wood, which I didn't like so I substituted it with something else, with a similar surface area. The designs were in traditional Bavarian colors of red, blue, yellow, green and white. My (if it got finished) project would go in the kitchen and these colors didn't work with my color scheme at all, so again, I substituted with colors that worked for me. Ta da! Now I was ready to go to class. I learned how to prepare a wood surface, how to base coat, create an even border around the edge of my wood piece, how to make strokes with the different types of brushes, blend colors and how to seal wood so it would last forever. Now THAT was why I took the class. It was my first and last. From there I practiced what I had been taught and loved every minute. The instructor was actually teaching how to create this specific project, but I was learning all the tips and techniques to go out and create my own projects. And this is what I try to show when I create any kind of a project whether it's for a book, magazine, or the TV show. You may have noticed that I always include the following, or similar statement at the end of my project instructions:
"When choosing papers for your layout/project, look for colors and styles that complement your photograph and personal style.

There's a saying - "give a man a fish and he'll have a meal for one evening; teach a man to fish and he can eat for the rest of his life." I'm paraphrasing, but you get my drift. This is the principle I apply to all kinds of crafts, including scrapbooking. Here are the basics which are important to me about scrapbook page layouts and any other projects featuring photos:

1. It's all about the photograph!
Lime green may be the hottest, trendiest color on the market, but, to be honest, I don't care. I always pick colors that will enhance my photograph.

The techniques featured here were using a photo mat as a frame and coloring the mat by pressing square stamp pads (in 3 complementary colors) around the sides.

2. The photograph is the focal point.
There are some wonderful, wonderful paper designs available for scrapbooking and I admit, I've bought my fair share. Some of them would look great as wallpaper - in fact I think some of them were wallpaper in a past life, but I digress. I use most of these beautiful papers for journal covers, home dec items, or pieces of them to accent a scrapbook page, but they are rarely used as background paper - I don't want anything to detract from my photo. It's like buying a new dress. When you walk into a room, you would like people to say, "doesn't she look wonderful" and not "look at that beautiful dress".

3. Other people's pages are not mine.
Other people's scrapbook pages are very inspirational and many of them works of art. I love looking at them and appreciate the talented designers who create them. Bear in mind that many of them are created by Design Team members solely to showcase a manufacturer's product, but they are "eye candy" for the soul. I just love the projects that Julie Fei Fan Balzer and Tim Holtz create. They are both very "artsy" designers and my favourite magazine is Somerset, which is full of "artsy" projects. I could never in a million years come up with some of the projects seen there - I'm a simple soul, but they do inspire me. Let's put it this way, I can really, really like other people's projects without wanting to do something like that myself. So, when all said and done, take inspiration from many different sources. Cut out ideas and layouts that you like and keep them in a scrapbook for reference, but remember that your page is all about your photo. You will eventually develop a style of your own that is timeless, which in turn will give your albums the cohesiveness they truly deserve. Let the pages tell your story as you tell theirs.

Here is one of my favorite layouts I created for a magazine using a friend's photograph of her granddaughter. The subject of the magazine article was "Spirelli" which is my favorite technique. It's nothing more than creating embellishments with a form of string art, so the layout was to illustrate how Spirelli embellishments can be used on a page.

4. Mat your photograph.
I almost always mat my photographs with a solid color of cardstock. I feel it helps them to stand out against any kind of background.

5. Keep it Simple. You'll have much more fun!

Yours truly,
Julie :)

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