Digital Vs. Paper; The Woes of Scrapbooking

When I was in Highschool, there were a few scrapbooking fanatics that I knew and kept in contact with.  They had “scrapping parties” and talked about new papers they bought and how many pages they had made.  It seemed a kind of code, and I was not adept enough to break it.  As I grew older, the amount of “scrappers” that I knew grew exponentially, and now I feel fully emersed in the language, the lifestyle, and worst of all, the ecological consequences.

a scrapbooking page

The pain beef I have with scrapbook is that there is so much to buy when you want to make just one page, let alone a whole book full.  There’s all the papers (which often have printed on designs, done with chemical inks), the photos to print (more paper and ink), and all the little stamps, brads, stickers, and grommets.  “If only I could make a scrapbook page and make it green,” I wondered… then, suddenly, the answer came to me.  Digital scrapbooking!

With digital scrapbooking, I get basically the same outcome (a designed page that I have custom built) with hardly any of the environmental impact.  I can create pages in Photoshop, or on one of the various websites.  I can save money buy downloading free brushes, fonts and textures, and use my digital images straight from my camera.  If I want to print a page out, it’s still less of an impact than making it from scratch.  I can be sure I like a page before I print it, instead of making it and realizing I don’t like it and being out lots of paper and money.

Now, I know the world of scrapbooking is split between traditionalists who think that the digital form isn’t really a scrapbook, and the others who feel that digital scrapbooking is the way of the future.  All I have to say is that sustainability is really the wave of the future, and if I have to chose between a traditional scrapbook and my planet, well… I’ll always pick the planet.

Hey, maybe I should make a digital scrapbook page about the planet…

[Image credit: BobbieB at Flickr]

Written by Lenore MacLeod-Bickley

Lenore is a 25 year old artist in Northern Idaho. She has a husband, two cats, and a whole room devoted to arts and crafts. She's dedicated to using art to tell a story.


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  1. I have yet to find a digital scrapbooking site that I really like and definitely don’t have time to learn Photoshop right now. What are your favorites?

  2. Meagan, you’re right, Photoshop does have a steep learning curve. Here are a few links that I really enjoy. Some are free, and some are ones you pay to use. I’ll also post some links to textures and fonts. – Here you can download kits. – This site lets you build a page on their website. – this site has a ton of great fonts, and you can make your own handwriting one on here. – Deviantart is a site where people upload their art and other users can download it. They have a TON of textures and things on here.

    I definitely recommend Crop Mom, as far as a site that lets you build on there without downloading a program or learning Photoshop. It’s been the easiest one so far.

  3. Living in Mormon land, the home of some serious scrapbook fanatics, I constantly cringe at the amount of supplies these women purchase, cut up and throw away just to get one page. This is such a great idea and so much more accessible. I can share a page with Maggie in Kansas and Shirley down the street.

  4. I’m definitely one of those scrapbook purists who prefers doing everything on paper, but I agree that it can be wasteful. There are certainly ways to recycle materials though. I made an entire scrapbook out of scraps and discarded materials from a relatives collection and it turned out great!

  5. Seems like we need to go back to scrapbooking’s roots. While I do love the beautiful scrapbooking papers you can buy (and yes, I’ve been known to buy them), it’s always surprised me that people buy other do-dads at all when making a scrapbook. I may have a different idea about what makes a good scrapbook, but I have always used real scraps – metro tickets, photos, cut up brochures and magazines, even receipts and newspaper clippings – to make scrapbooks of my travels and family vacation memories. I have a real attachment to those scraps, and while the cashier receipt may not be as cute as a die-cut Eiffel Tower, that kind of “scrap” is more valuable to me and forces me to use my imagination in arranging a page.

  6. Good to see a scrapbooking article on here! Digital isn’t something I’ve really gotten into yet… personally, I like the more hands-on work of cutting up paper and stuff. (That, and I really don’t need another hobby on the computer, since I’m prone to carpal tunnel!) Not to say I won’t ever try it. But I’ve also generally tried to make as little waste as possible–buying recycled paper when I can, and saving my paper scraps and making embellishments out of them or using them to print writing on. (Or even tossing them in the blender for DIY handmade paper!) Or trying to use things I already had for other hobbies, like pieces of fabric left over from my sewing projects–my sewing machine is one of my favorite scrapbook tools too! Or ribbons used to wrap gifts I was given. Or the tickets and invitations for the actual events. Digital scrapbooking definitely has its place, and I’m seeing it become more popular (including people who like to do elements of both– start something digitally and then print it out and add stuff by hand to give them the best of both worlds.) But there are certainly ways to do the more traditional paper scrapbooking as well.

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