Rule #3: Design

This entry is part 70 of 86 in the series Scrapworthy Lives Results

Each Wednesday, I usually write a post from my dissertation.

Industry workers disagree as to rules about what a scrapbook should actually look like.

Some think that scrapbookers should be familiar with basic color theory and design composition.  One industry worker is a certified Scrapbook Design & You® instructor who teaches a series of classes at her store called Scrapbook Design & You® that educate scrapbookers about basic color theory and design composition. Moreover, scrapbookers can find “good” design in scrapbook magazines and idea books where they can then “scraplift” the page by copying the design. In other words, good design is attainable by all. The scrapbooking industry, then, has a self-help (see Simonds 1992) aspect to it in that scrapbookers can read books and magazines, watch television, interact with blogs, and take classes in order to improve their scrapbooking skills.

Other industry workers feel that there are no rules regarding design because the scrapbooker can show some of her or his personality with their scrapbook design. The scrapbooker does this through the colors he or she chooses and the embellishments he or she uses. It seems that scrapbooking products are necessary in order to show more of your personality. One might think that your photos and words are enough to show your personality in a scrapbook. The scrapbook industry is like other industries such as the fashion industry, where purchased accessories are promoted as necessary so that you can share more of your personality.

Rules or guidelines regarding scrapbook design help create a boundary between a grown-up hobby and child’s play. Scrapbooking is so easy that a child could do it compared to other hobbies (e.g., quilting, woodworking). Mothers introduce the hobby to their daughters at a young age (e.g., six or seven), which is common among handcrafters (Stalp and Winge 2008), though most of my respondents became scrapbookers as adults. A child could easily confuse mommy’s scrapbooking supplies with her or his own art supplies so care is taken to mark the boundary between what is for grown-ups and what is for children.

The rules mark the activity as grown-up. For example, one industry worker comments that the difference in design between adult scrapbookers and child scrapbookers can be seen in the colors chosen for the scrapbook page. She finds that children pick out whatever color they like for their background paper without regard for how it works with their photographs. Children scrapbook without thinking about any rules, whereas adult scrapbookers are influenced by rules. Children pick a color not because it fits in with color technique or design but because they happen to like the color at the moment. Their scrapbook page reflects the colors they like at that time whereas adult scrapbookers pick colors based on commonly accepted design-rules (i.e., using a color wheel) rather than what their favorite color is at the moment. In some ways, a child’s scrapbook communicates more about their personality than an adult’s scrapbook.

What role do rules regarding design or color theory apply to your scrapbooking? Do you think these rules mark boundaries between children and adult scrapbookers? 


I tried to find current information about Scrapbook Design & You® but could not find anything that appeared current. Does this program still exist? Anyone know?


Simonds, Wendy. 1992. Women and Self-Help Culture: Reading Between the Lines. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Stalp, Marybeth C. and Theresa M. Winge. 2008. “My Collection is Bigger than Yours: Tales from the Handcrafter’s Stash.” Home Cultures 5(2):197-218.

Read More Rules:

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