Traditional, digital, and hybrid scrapbooking can be considered scrapbooking methods. These methods can be still further distinguished into styles. A person’s scrapbooking style signals where he or she fits in the social world of scrapbooking. Similar to drumming (Curran 1996) and windsurfing (Wheaton 2000), outsiders may not notice the distinctions between different scrapbook styles and instead simply lump all scrapbooks together as the same.
Where a person buys their scrapbooking supplies often influences their scrapbooking style. A scrapbooking business is going to promote only the products they actually sell. One industry worker says:
like a Let’s Stamp party, they’re going to show you that they have letter stamps and that’s how you create a title. But at a store they’ll have die-cuts, and rub-ons, and sticker letters, and stencils, and everything.
Industry workers are going to only show customers items that they can purchase through their respective businesses. If a person exclusively purchases from one business over another, their style, generally, reflects this. Brick and mortar industry workers argue that their customers’ styles are going to be more eclectic because they carry product from multiple vendors. In contrast, the direct sellers typically only carry one company’s products so there is less diversity in terms of scrapbooking styles using those products.
Direct selling companies are also accused of promoting their method of scrapbooking in an attempt to keep the scrapbooker coming back to them rather than purchasing from competitors. For example, Inspired Stories has a method and style of scrapbooking that is promoted over other methods and styles. Inspired Stories customers and consultants refer to non-Inspired Stories products as contraband—emphasizing the deviance implicit in choosing to use products from competitors. Inspired Stories customers say they are made to feel excluded by the consultants or other customers if they use products from other venders (though others point out that they were not singled out for using competing product). The scrapbooking styles that are driven by manufactures turn off potential scrapbookers. A few respondents note that they initially did not like scrapbooking until they realized there were other options besides Let’s Stamp or Inspired Stories.
In addition to scrapbooking styles that reflect various thought communities in scrapbooking from various manufacturers, actual scrapbooking styles can be described as clean lines (as opposed to spirals and circles), symmetrical, eclectic, flat, frilly, contemporary, plain, simple, artistic, and creative. One freelance scrapbooker (a person who makes custom scrapbooks for other people) has a portfolio of various scrapbooking styles that clients can choose from. Industry workers emphasize that simple scrapbooks are perfectly acceptable. Simple Scrapbooks was a popular scrapbooking magazine (final issue May/June 2009) devoted to scrapbooking simply. According to industry workers, simple scrapbooking refers to focusing on the photos and the journaling rather than focusing on the decoration (e.g., embellishments). Scrapbooks without 3-D embellishments are referred to as flat by respondents and are a hallmark of Inspired Stories. A typical Inspired Stories scrapbooker uses paper, stickers, and photos; all items that are flat (Inspired Stories has expanded to include some 3-D embelishments since these interviews. Scrapbookers with greater familiarity with the various scrapbooking manufacturers often refer to a specific brand or scrapbooking celebrity that they say their style reflected—assuming that I knew what they were talking about.
Though scrapbookers may describe their styles as “plain and simple” instead of “artistic and creative,” there is often overlap. Some of their pages may be simpler or more creative than others. The terms, too, are not mutually exclusive. A simple page could be very artistic.
Most respondents talk about how their scrapbooking style has evolved through the years. Industry workers, in particular, saw their scrapbooking style evolve to follow what happened in the industry at large. Scrapbooking products are like fashion in that some types of products become very popular, only to be pushed to the side when the latest craze comes around. Years ago it was quite typical to go in a scrapbook store and have rolls of stickers lining an entire wall. Today, stickers are still sold in scrapbook stores, but are not nearly as prevalent. For the most part, local scrapbook stores mainly carry stickers for new scrapbookers rather than for more advanced scrapbookers (though letter stickers are still very popular among all scrapbookers). Other respondents talk about how they have gone into ruts, using a particular technique over and over again until it is replaced by another technique, for example.
By working in a scrapbook store, industry workers learn how other people (i.e., other scrapbookers) scrapbook. Industry worker’s scrapbooking styles are challenged when they see the new items and emerging scrapbook trends. One industry worker says, “I don’t think my scrapbooks would have grown … I would’ve stuck rather than trying something different or new or stepping outside of what I was comfortable with.” Working in the scrapbook industry causes scrapbookers to try new things based on what they saw through their work, which runs contrary to the notion that your personality shows through in your scrapbooks. It also points to the fact that despite scrapbookers and industry workers proclaiming there are no rules that there is at least pressure to conform to the norms of the scrapbooking thought community.
Can you describe your scrapbooking style? Has it evolved? Where do you draw your style from?
Curran, Geoffrey M. 1996. “From ‘Swinging Hard’ to ‘Rocking Out’: Classification of Style and the Creation of Identity in the World of Drumming.” Symbolic Interaction 19(1):37-60.
Wheaton, Belinda. 2000. “ ‘Just Do It’: Consumption, Commitment, and Identity in the Windsurfing Subculture.” Sociology of Sport Journal 17(3):254-74.