Before my brother died and I took a big time out from work, I had written some posts about my take on scrapbooking/memory keeping. Unfortunately, I really stepped in a pile of metaphorical dog shit by inadvertently insulting Relly (@RellyAB on Twitter), a talented and funny lady whose work I included in a (since pulled) post.
Fortunately, Relly and I were able to discuss the manner through email, where I apologized for offending her, assured her that wasn’t my intent, and then went on to explain what my actual intent was. At which point I realized that my email to her was the post I should have written to begin with.
So with Relly’s permission, here is an (large) excerpt of that email.
For 30+ years I’ve been cutting, pasting, doodling, and jotting bits of my life, yet I balk at calling myself a scrapbooker. Over the years I’ve watched as scrapbooking grew into a crafting phenomenon/major industry that now incorporates a mind-blowing assortment of techniques and supplies to create a more design-oriented and embellished type of scrapbook compared to those of “olden days”. Honestly I feel a major disconnect between what I do and what most people currently define as scrapbooking.
I feel like scrapbooking has joined the ranks of polarizing topics, alongside religion and politics, with most folks falling into one of two very opinionated camps- those who love it and those who loathe it.
I’m in this “no man’s land” where I enjoyed the spirit of scrapbooking as a means of keepsaking and memory recording, but not the current aesthetic of it. I feel that the scrapbooking industry pushes materials over meaning, evidenced by the number of aisles of scrapbooking supplies at my local craft store. And in talking with others, I hear repeatedly the stories of feeling overwhelmed or turned off by current scrapbooking trends, for reasons such as time, amount of supplies needed, aesthetics, or creative confidence.
This all led me to wonder if I couldn’t come up with ways to gather memories and momentos that reflected my attitude and aesthetic towards scrapbooking and creating in general. Ways that simplify the style/time required/supplies needed to document and remember our lives. Ways that incorporate more personal, “hand” touches, such as handwriting, doodles, and simple illustrations and less store-bought embellishments. To show and remind people that there is more than one approach. To remind folks that laughing about the process is a great way to grow and thrive.
My blog post was meant as a short introductory piece, to begin removing the negative connotation that “scrapbooking” carries for a lot of people. The post was meant to target a certain audience, but was never meant to target certain styles/artists as good or bad.
In fact, in creating this post, I wanted “current scrapbooking” examples that were well-executed, so as NOT to represent current scrapbooking in a negative light. When I found your photo, I was bowled over by the amount of detail involved and how well-crafted it was. I openly admit it’s not my style, but I respect and admire the skill and talent behind it. I wanted folks who enjoy that style of scrapbooking to feel that they were well-represented when reading this post, rather than insulted, and urge those who liked your style to leave my post and explore your design. Had I chosen my words more carefully, I might have avoided insulting those whose examples I used.
My wording about cringing, scrapbooking, and your work came out all wrong and for that I sincerely apologize. I never meant to imply that your work makes people cringe, but rather, I was referring to the reaction that the term “scrapbooking” evokes in the folks to whom this post was directed. I should have been clearer in how I conveyed this.
In writing this email, I’ve realized the following:
1) Perhaps I should have attempted to create my own examples to illustrate today’s trends rather than use the work of others, thus avoiding the potential for insult.
2) This email I’m writing you now is probably the post I should have written then to introduce and explain my intentions and goals.
3) Even more insulting than connecting the word “cringe” with your work was the unintended implication that your work lacked authenticity. After receiving your blog comment, I followed the link to your blog and found myself loving what I read, especially your latest post from August 3rd. Reading the ways scrapbooking enriches your life made me realize that I had overlooked the authenticity in your work. And for that, I am ashamed.
While I do want to help folks document their lives in ways that feel simpler or more authentic to them, I don’t want to limit what folks get out of the process, how they apply and use the techniques/products/services I seek to develop, or hinder their creative confidence to experiment and play.
So thank you, Relly, for not only accepting my apology, but for helping me find clarity. Tomorrow I’ll start sharing some “me-mo booking” ideas, as I’m calling it, so stay tuned.