Nobody Wants to Be a Rebel

by | Projects & Processes | 76 comments

This is an excerpt from my 5th book, The New Rules of Scrapbooking, now available exclusively on Amazon.

In my eight years writing here for you, I’ve noticed a common need shared among scrapbookers: permission. In the 18,000+ comments here, you’ve accepted permission to:

  • scrapbook [event] simply,
  • embrace “good enough”,
  • follow your motivation,
  • set aside time for learning,
  • start without being organized,
  • identify what matters most,
  • create chronologically,
  • not create chronologically,
  • spend time without guilt, and
  • write your own rules.

Some of these thoughts reflect our innate desire to care deeply for our homes and the people in them, but others reminded me that scrapbooking is as steeped in tradition as the rest of our lives. As a relative newcomer to the industry, I often didn’t realize I was challenging an unwritten rule of the hobby until I wrote about it.

Amidst the ongoing struggle to choose whether to scrapbook the 'right' way or be a rebel, could it actually just be time to rewrite the rules?

For example, I never considered that my idea to combine Project Life with Library of Memories would be juxtaposed with an expectation that albums should be uniform in style and format.

Logically it would make sense that, in the same way that you get to decide whether to buy the heart stickers or the gold dots, you get to decide how to be a scrapbooker. However, messages from within the industry (some overt, some subtle) magnify our own insecurities and combine to form a toxic soup of guilt and self-doubt.

Thus what I’ve seen is an ongoing struggle to choose whether to do things the right way or be a rebel.

Do you mix layouts and pocket pages in the same album? Or does that ?????

A photo posted by Simple Scrapper (@simplescrapper) on

But does anyone, even self-described rule-breakers, really want to be a rebel? Gretchen Rubin writes, in Better than Before, that even “rebels sometimes frustrate even themselves, because they can’t tell themselves what to do.”

Even if we feel called to break the rules, we don’t really want to. We want to fit in. As a case in point, Becky Higgins broke the rules of traditional scrapbooking with Project Life. However, new rules of how you should use these products quickly formed around the concept.

Thus this underlying craving for permission, to do what alleviates your guilt and self-doubt, stems from a natural desire to follow rules.

And while many have embraced their own creative paths, particularly in the online community, I’m concerned about the mass exodus that has occurred in our industry since its peak in 2006. Not able to keep up nor wanting to feel outside of the perceived norm, many more have chosen to stop scrapbooking altogether.

Instead of continuing to battle ourselves into doing nothing at all, could it actually be time to rewrite the rules of scrapbooking?

I think it is.

What do you think? Please leave a comment below sharing your experiences and vision for the future of our hobby.

Did you find this post helpful?

We believe simple is not how your page looks, but how your scrapbooking hobby works. We have a free workshop called SPARKED and it is the best way to learn more about Simple Scrapper and start creating consistently.


  1. Ann

    I prefer to think of myself as a rebel of sorts — a unique personality. I like to be different, always have. Since my mother sewed my clothes, no one else had anything like them. I continued with my children’s clothing. The same holds true with my scrapbooking. Although there is some uniformity (usually making the same size pages), my style keeps evolving with my expertise as I learn new ways to do things.
    And yes, I did start out very unorganized & I’m sure I’ll never make it to being totally organized! But it is something uniquely me 🙂

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I love how you’ve capitalized on your uniqueness as a key part of your identity.

  2. Deb Schlaud

    I consider myself a rebel – sort of. I don’t worry about symmetry and such. What goes on a page goes there. As long as I like it that’s all that matters. I like organization and have recently started using the ScrapRack and LOVE it. So easy to find what I want. I use traditional scrapbook techniques, digital, and Project Life. Whatever the page calls for!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Oooh, I hear the ScrapRack is so helpful!

  3. Amy Hanschen

    I don’t intentionally want to be a rebel, I want to be an artist and a storyteller. And these lend themselves to a uniqueness that could be interpreted as rebellious. Rightfully so, as I don’t want anything I do to be like someone else’s…it is mine, it’s personal. As for rules, my eyes have a preference for what are called design principles. My writing, however, can be anywhere, with or without punctuation, with ot without complete sentences, but I have a preference for correct spelling!! Are these rules? In the spirit of freedom of expression, I call them preferences.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I love this perspective. You are so right in that this is personal and therefore inherently unique.

  4. Paulette Sarsfield

    I remember spotting my first scrapbook store while traveling in the late 90’s. From there my quilting hobby was replaced with my love for paper! So much so my BFF & I opened a store & were very successful for 5 great years.. I scrapped more in those 5 years than all the years together since (coincidentally, we closed our store in 2007, because we had a firm 5 year plan, not because of the great exodus, thank heavens for perfect timing lol) … After closing I taught classes & had an active scrapbook club for 4 more years & then slowly I was scrapping less & less… Even though I still LOVE it, there is just so much stuff in my studio that I get frustrated to the point I just don’t feel like it any more, I never know what to throw away…PL was not my thing, I tried a couple of layouts & sizes & got really bored … There was a big window in this time that I manic for minibooks. In the end? I want nice layouts with more than one pic & please make room for some journalling! So, am I a rebel scrapbooker? YES most definitely, my “new” suits me, not necessarily what others are doing or what’s “hot” or “cool”… I have done several purges over the years & some of them I mourn lol … who would have thought the patterned paper & cardstock quality of 2006 would disappear? Bring back the Chatterbox linen! lol My biggest regret? I don’t make the time for scrapbooking that I used to… and I miss watching my albums fill up… enough rambling, I am anxious to read your book Jennifer, keep up the great work!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      What a fascinating, craft-filled time you’ve had Paulette! I too haven’t quilted much since I fell in love with scrapbooking. I am so glad you’ve been open to trying new things, but then sticking with what you know works best for you.

  5. Tiffani

    I don’t think it’s the ‘rules’ that get to me so much as comparison. I mostly crave a simple, orderly approach, but instead of getting down to it, I waste time and get mentally overwhelmed by looking at other people’s work on the Internet and wanting my pages to look like theirs.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Now that you’ve recognized the behavior, you’re half-way to changing it. I can get bogged down in comparison too, so I choose not to look when I’m trying to be creative.

  6. Margaret

    I may look at others pages to get an idea but mine usually come out my own way. Sometimes you copy a page to learn how to do it but when you add your own stash it is yours unless you totally copy it then it is someone else’s idea and I usually write somewhere on the page where the idea came from.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I 100% agree that the best way to learn is mimicking what you like.

  7. Velma

    I never thought of myself as a rebel. I prefer to call it creative freedom. Perhaps this is one reason I could not fully embrace Project Life. I did not feel comfortable fitting everything in to the structured format. I still use PL cards but I mix them in with my traditional scrapbooking. I look on the Internet for layout ideas and inspiration, but I end up making the pages my own.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I love how you’ve never seen your customization as a negative.

  8. Francine Seal

    I’ve been paying more attention to “rules” than I used to; not so much as wanting to follow them but to bend/break them artistically. That’s easier to do when you’re scrapping digitally – change a color here, swap a font there, use more (or less) embellishments. I have more trouble following page maps when I work with paper-and-glue which I do primarily when making greeting cards.

    As for the why people appearantly are scrapping less, I believe it’s because we’ve been taking SO MANY photos that people are beginning to get a paralysis to trying to figure out where to start, what to use, and when to find the time. Or, like me, maybe it’s because I have so many supplies and I don’t which one to use (or take the time to practice with them so I know what I’ll get on the scrapbook page or greeting card.

    I also feel somewhat inhibited about my design skills – maybe that’s why I’m learning more about them (but still without TRYING them. [the TIME issue again, which is odd since I’m retired and don’t have many “have to’s” to deal with.])

    • Jennifer Wilson

      You’ve hit on a big point: the quantity of photos we’re taking plays a big role in both why people stop and why those who don’t want to stop feel more stuck than ever!

      • Scraphappyjen

        So agree about the photo thing. Comparatively speaking in the analog days of photography you had so many less options. Only 24 pics on a roll of film so we conserved it for just the right photograph, no way of knowing if it would turn out, then we’d edit some more & get rid of the blurry ones, weirdly cropped etc and you’d only be left with a handful. Now we take thousands of pics ‘just in case’, are overwhelmed by the editing and photo management & even if we do get around to printing them at all are too spoiled for choice of what to scrap we get overwhelmed again and freeze up. Or go for it for a while being prolific & burn out.

        • Jennifer Wilson

          Burn out is definitely the bookend to overwhelm. While I do think batching and bursts are effective, it can’t be so intense that you end up needing to check out for a while.

  9. Loni

    I need rules whether they are self imposed or not. My rules for myself change as my life changes. I just re-write them.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Bravo for knowing yourself so well!

  10. Susanne

    I would like to think of myself as a rebel, but in looking back over the past 7 years, the trends of the industry as reflected in the online scrapbooking community have definitely had an effect on me. Unfortunately, I was inundated with so much information about how scrapbooking could or should be approached that it took me much longer than it should have to arrive at and be comfortable with my own approach. Yes, I lost my way more than once during that time period. I think the only rules about scrapbooking that one should even consider are design rules – and then only learn and abide by those to the extent that they make you happy about your scrapbooking. Yes, just do more of what makes you happy and ignore the rest.

  11. christi

    I’m definitely not a rebel. I just do what I like. But as a perfectionist, it takes a long time to get things where I’m satisfied with them. In my head it is much better than what my hands can do. Sort of how I didn’t like drawing or coloring as a kid. My head had Pixar images but my hands can only make stick figures. Having to adjust your satisfaction levels to meet your capabilities is a bummer.

    • Debbie johnson

      I can relate to your comment.
      “In my head it’s much better than what my hands can do”.
      i love all the pages I see, but it’s not a quick task to duplicate what I see with what I have. I do have quite a lot. But….I over think it.

  12. Debbi

    You mean there are rules? No seriously, the first time I went to a crop there were people churning out 10 pages to my 1. There was an art teacher there and her pages made mine look like a first grader did them. There were people there trying to include all the latest trends. I learned right away that, just like with anything in life, if I compare myself to others, I will not be happy. My goal is to tell my family’s story through pictures and journaling in a scrapbook. If I accomplish that, I have left something precious for them to enjoy and I’ve been blessed by the process of recording the memories. If it’s pretty to look at, that’s gravy. Thanks so much for always encouraging me that I was on the right track and never pressuring me to take a particular path. Can’t wait to read your new book!

  13. shelly

    I am most definitely a rebel! I’m a lot like everyone else in the fact that I look at sketches, color schemes, cool titles, etc. But when it comes to putting it together that’s where my “rebel” comes out. I may like 2 or 3 sketches, colors, etc but I will mix and match them til I get my own thing that I like. It might not appeal to everyone but I’m not out to please everyone! A lot of times I come up with more ideas than I ever have time to execute! I don’t work in chronological order either. I PLAY when/where/however my muse takes me! It’s so much more fun and freeing because there are no rules and you can discover so much more during playtime….just watch a child sometime nobody tells them “how” to play or what to think in their make believe world and they have some amazing stories if you take the time to just watch and learn!

  14. Laura

    I never thought about there being rules…just an overwhelming amount of ideas ranging from the simplest form of project life to the very detailed one picture page with all sorts of embellishments from paint to jewels. I think at times that makes it confusing on which direction to take. I love the simplicity of project life but I also love to play with paper paint and glue. That seems to be where I get caught up. My desire to play and see what I end up with. I have now taken to doing that with only my most favorite photos…I still have difficulty combining it all. My two daughters have no desire to “play”..both use the project life app and are finally scrapbooking the lives of their children and do it frequently. I got caught up trying to do not only my own photos but books for my grandchildren at the same time. I have many things started but none finished 🙁

  15. Janpfh

    People often “follow the rules” to learn how to use a new and developing skill set. Once an understanding of the skill set/product is reached, individuality can take over. This process can take days or years, but eventually the learner will begin to experiment and adapt. The trick is to accept our own skill and talent level and go from there. I often think of the time my son, then in Second Grade, commented that my handwriting was better than his. I reminded him that I had 20 more years of practice than he did. At that point he smiled and accepted that time and practice would get him where he wanted to be. As scrap bookers, we could learn from this as well.

  16. Sabine Krüger

    I agree with Laura. The ideas are overwhelmed.

    I prefered white spaces before white spaces were a trend and I have a calendar / planner from 2002 were I collect pictures for ideas and stickers. I love to see new ideas and sometimes I adapt the one or other piece of an idea on one of my layouts. But skteches or scraplifting didn´t help me a lot because I haven´t the embellishment or the amount of photos in that moment. Project life wasn´t an option because I´m not such a permanent scrapper.
    So I have to do it my way. Sometimes there is a month I do nothing and than I create 3 to 5 layouts or giveaways in one day. I love to make my own rules because others don´t fit for me.

  17. Tink

    I dance to my own music (scrapbooking) neither a conformist nor a rebel; but a little of both. It really depends on what I am scrapping and what I want to convey. For my granddaughter’s prom and my grandson’s 12th birthday I went with artsy. When working on annual books I tend to be more PL but out of the bounds type. Vacation albums tend to use a variety within them.

  18. Sheri Berke

    I am a rebel, although, I do it without calling attention to it. My choices are usually contrary. While some start out that way unintentionally, others are deliberate. With scrapbooking, I started out with paper and always found my designs wanting if I compared them to the pretty pictures in magazines. So, I stopped comparing and did what felt right. I still loved the outcome! Then I was tired of the paper clutter and have been haphazardly learning digi. Frustrated to no end at the start, but now more comfortable, especially with the Project Life app, my go to. I still don’t compare myself to find myself lacking, but rather to pick up new techniques to add to my quirky way of doing things. I’d resisted journaling, but have learned its value. But I’m still spare with the words. In the end, what matters to me most is that my scrapping journey documents a small portion of my life’s journey, irrespective of how I got there!

  19. Dottie Pennington

    While I don’t consider myself a rebel, I don’t like staples on layouts, “thousands of pieces of paper” and one tiny picture, or washi tape. I do like the ability to add more pictures using pocket pages to my stories but I don’t do Project Life. I don’t scrap chronologically but my layouts are in the albums chronologically. I do like learning about eye appeal, such as making a triangle with elements and using white space. I do what looks good to me and gets my stories told. So maybe I am a rebel after all. Looking forward to reading your new book, Jennifer.

  20. Iska

    I am a rule follower by nature, but have learned over the years when to comply to the rules and when to ignore them. I love collecting memorabilia. I love scrapbooking. I love telling stories.

    I never went digital – cause I’m too tactile.
    I’m not a planner scrapper – as that is now how I want to revisit my memories.
    I enjoy doing PL some years and not others.
    I scrapped the entire family collection of photos from the 1800’s to 1950 not cause it was cool or in vogue, but because I still had access to all of the stories through my mother who worked elbow to elbow with me (I design and she tells the stories).

    I try new things and still keep my old favorites. I follow trends, but I also follow me – because I am the one that is making these pages and I enjoy it.

  21. Karla Yungwirth

    I feel like a rebel without a clue lately, lol! There are so many things I want to get done and too many obstacles at the moment. But I print my pics, enjoy getting a scrapbook page done when I have time and have been doing a little more digital Project Life app scrapping – to get the fulfillment of actually getting a page done and to get my journaling down while it’s fresh. I’ve been listening to some podcasts lately about people using Midori’s now for memory keeping and with the planners, PL, apps, etc, I think the most important thing is doing what makes you happy, recording those memories, and not getting bogged down in feeling like you’re not doing it right – just that you’re doing something that matters to you and makes you happy. Thanks for your great post!

  22. Kerry (Fitts) Goens

    if there weren’t rules, there wouldn’t be rulebreakers (rebels, if you will). But if everyone did the same thing all the time, scrapbooking (and life) would be pretty boring.

    WHO gets to say which size, style, pattern (etc.) is THE one to use?

    The thing that drew me to scrapbooking is that it incorporates all the facets of crafting I love: taking photos, using color design, paper crafting, using mixed-mediums, recycling/upcycling, storytelling (and so much more)….and the best part is I get to choose 🙂

    And then I get to share it with people I love.

    Less hobby – more way of life…

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Personalizing this hobby with your choices is so important. I love that you’ve embodied this value as your lifestyle Kerry!

  23. Neysa Parker

    I am a rebel. I don’t like to follow rules. What I love to do is scrapbook. I also appreciate structure and ideas. I will look at a layout or a card and then take a concept but have to make it my own. For me it makes scrapbooking more fun when I embrace my creative side. The organized and structured side of me likes it when I take a more is less approach with supplies and techniques. I appreciate simplicity because it allows me to get more done, but there are days or moments that a picture just calls for more – more embellishments, more patterned paper, or more journaling. I have learned to listen to my inner scrapbooker and let her loose when I need to.

  24. Angie

    I can’t rebel against the rules because I don’t know them – haha! I found your blog through the Paperclipping Roundtable podcase and they talk a lot about design principles. I have not and will not take the time to learn about design. My goal is to get my family’s memories preserved and so as long as I’m getting that done and we enjoy the pages, I don’t pay any mind to the fact that my pages are probably design principle nightmares!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Welcome Angie! Next week’s post will include some of the so-called ‘rules’ that I’m suggesting we rewrite. I’m not particularly talking about design in this conversation as I see those rules as science-based facts rather than expectations governed by an array of influences.

  25. Kary

    This is hilarious. Typical–say “no one wants to be a rebel” and everyone chimes in, “Oh but I am a rebel!!” Truly Jennifer, saying to an American (especially) that she doesn’t want to be a rebel is like waving a red cape in front of a bull! So funny.

    That said, I have been scrapbooking since before there WAS an industry to dictate what was cool. I have pages that look like Ali Edwards or Cathy Zielske might have made them, but they were done back in the 80s. So am I a rebel? I have a degree in Art, with an emphasis on graphic design and illustration, so I suppose that informs my scrapbook design and makes it easier ignore trends. But trends are fun! And lots of people in the industry have great ideas–I’d done something similar to Project Life for years before Becky started making all that cool stuff and her ideas enriched what I had been doing. I have planners that I decorated from junior high (that was back in the 60s, btw), but there are lots of cool stamps and washi available now that are fun to play with. Do what you love–no one looking at your pages 25 years from now will know what was cool in 2016 or whether you copied someone else’s page or did your own thing.

    Rules are good for those who are just learning or for those who just want to get it done. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using rules–usually we have rules for a reason! The rule of thirds, for instance, or guidelines for combining colors–those are very useful basic art concepts. Scrapbooks are a very personal expression–I think that the “rules” gain power when this personal art form tries to go public. When scrapbookers are concerned about what random people online think about their stuff, it can destroy their love for the craft.

  26. Kim Smith

    Definitely a rebel over here. I’ve never conformed in scrapping, nor any of my other creative pursuits. Mom used to say that I would read instructions to something, then make it my way instead of following the instructions. A lot of that is true. I’ve learned to adapt things to get them to turn out how they want….and it works for me. Which is all that really matters.

    When it comes to scrapping, I’ve never scrapped the way others have wanted me to, even when I was on creative teams. I was lucky in that the designers and sites I worked for were easy going and accepting of everyone’s different styles. I cannot work any other way – I like to think outside the box and like to try new things. This includes the styles, sizes, and types of layouts I create. I curate kits often, combining elements and papers from 2-3 coordinating kits. I change things up on templates all the time. I alter papers and elements.

    So yes, I’m a rebel and proud of it. My pages are uniquely mine 🙂

  27. Jenni Bige

    Sometimes I start with an idea…I might find an idea that I like, but before I know it, I’ve tweaked it here and there, and it’s become something completely my own…I’m not your “typical” scrapbooker…in that, when I need to get pics into an album, I’ll use pocket ones, OR I might start with a different kind of album and before I know it, it’s become something else that I like better!

    I change things, I use different kits or different items from different kits…I like “whimsical” and that’s kind of how I see my scrapbooking…definitely in the “Rebel” category!

  28. Vic R

    I don’t know what you would call my approach, except maybe, selective. I was attracted to scrapbooking because, I hate to draw and paint. With scrapbooking, I can portray life without pencils, watercolors, oils and charcoal. Since mixed media is the new scrapbook trend, I was also a “computer geek” during my career, so I welcomed scrapbooking to get away from electronics and keyboards. So I must be a reactionary rather than a rebel.

    When I started, I didn’t know any other scrappers, so I am totally self-taught. So I developed my own process which is pick out the photos that what on my layout, then let the photo’s details guide for color scheme, patterns, etc. Plain photo get more detailed layouts. Busy pictures get a simple treatment.

    I also use my scrapbooking to document family history, so I use use keepsakes and clippings in my layouts. This is also totally reactionary.

    So mostly, I am a marketers nightmare, at least until mixed media passes away.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Ooooh, you offer some great points about a unique value of scrapbooking. For those who don’t feel artsy or enjoy it, you can still be creative and as you say “portray life”.

  29. C.J. Sturtevant

    I think of myself more as a non-conformist than a rebel. I create my scrapbook pages digitally with Photoshop, then print out the photos and use my digital layout to guide/inspire the paper layouts I make into books to share with my family and friends. I don’t create my pages in chronological order, and am typically working on scrapping several events or trips at a time. I use papers and embellishments that fit the content of my pages rather than being constrained by having to “match” (or at least coordinate) the colors or styles throughout a book.

    I would probably get a lot more pages completed if I limited my choices to a single kit or color palette for each book, but I enjoy mixing things up. I keep digital folders of templates and scrapliftable layouts sorted by the # of photos on the page, which cuts the “getting started” time considerably, although I rarely use a template, or scraplift a layout, without altering it somewhat. What we do is fun, and playing with colors and elements is just that: playing!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Thanks so much for sharing your process. I’ve heard of others that do something similar as a way to create a lot of confidence in the final design.

  30. Libby Wiers

    I’ve always been a rule follower and more than a bit of a perfectionist. That said, I have gotten a lot more comfortable with ‘good enough’ and ‘done is better than perfect’. I scrap what feels important at the moment, through a photo calling to me or a challenge from some group, but still feel compelled to file things chronologically. I have learned to do it my way and in whatever size suits at that moment, and into the album they go – paper, digi, PL or other app, and all sizes. Did I get that ‘permission’ from you?

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I use that approach, yes, but only YOU can accept permission. 🙂

  31. AmySo

    I feel like I’m a rebel scrapbooker within the industry because my layouts are 99.575% story-based, whereas my perception is that within the industry itself, most layouts are product-based. Beautiful but not *my* main reason for scrapbooking.

    Outside of the “industry” I think I’m less rebellious because I think the people who scrapbook just to scrapbook (not to sell product) are more concerned with stories.

    Which, to me, suggests that there is a division between the industry and the “regular” (for lack of a better word) scrapbooker.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      While I do see a division, I’m not sure I agree that the everyday scrapbooker is more concerned with stories. The scrapbookers I talk to who aren’t particular tapped in to the online community are commonly concerned with events and “getting caught up”. Perhaps that’s an additional distinction.

  32. Stacey

    As a CM Advisor I do prefer to use their product, and have not been a fan of extra stuff like buttons and things that are hard and raised above the page but i never tell anyone not to use them. It is their book and therefore their choice. the only “rule” in scrapbooking that I have followed or suggested is that it is your story so you tell it however you want. My own books run the gamut of simple and basic with little journalling to more stickers, die-cuts and colored papers. to those that think they aren’t “creative” enough to scrapbook I share with them that my creativity is copied from idea sheets and what others do but on a simpler level.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I think that’s a rule that will stand the test of time!

  33. Scraphappyjen

    I’m quite comfortable with having, structure & limitations (self-imposed or otherwise) in my scrapping and in fact I find it quite freeing to not have to re-invent the wheel every time I scrap because I already have set parameters to work in. Too many choices is overwhelming to me. Taking some of the decisions out of the equation from the get go means that I don’t fall into the trap of being paralysed by too many options and can spend more time getting pages done over fussing about them. Since I know that I am a die-hard 12×12 scrapper, who leans toward patterned paper backgrounds, stickers & Diecuts & values story on my layouts and who has a hard time letting go of product once it’s in my stash (purging) I know I have a size that works for me, what product to begin with and to start with story both in process & design and limit my shopping. And that this has stayed pretty consistent over my 15 years of scrapping.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I suspect you’ll be a big fan of the “new rules” I’m proposing!

  34. Krisy Podolak AKA Popleopod

    I am a rebel! I hate the rules of Scrapbooking. I just like to make stuff. I love memories and I love art. My Scrapbooking is about art meeting memories. Probably more about the art though. As soon as I realised that it’s my choice, my album and my style, my work has been the best it has ever been. Who cares if we are not upto date, I’m too busy making new memories to worry about making a page at that moment.

  35. Donna Conner

    Well I guess I’m a rebel. I don’t need Becky Higgins to tell me how to scrapbook. It’s just me and the stuff creating a page. I do mostly genealogy scrapbooking so far just to document all of them so I can get the info quickly to do my research. It’s so relaxing and I’m totally addicted to it. When I’m done I’m usually very pleased with the results.

  36. Claudia McDaniel

    I’ve been scrapbooking long enough to know that the only “rule” that matters to me is to enjoy the process. My albums don’t match. I have simple pages and heavily embellished pages. I don’t like PL-style pages but use the supplies for regular 12×12 pages. I scrap when I want, how I want. In the end, I scrapbook for ME. If no one wants the albums when I’m gone, that’s ok. I’ve enjoyed making the pages along the way.

  37. Dawne Watts

    I think I may be a rebel in a different sense – in that I still prefer to stick to older styles and not embrace the new stuff. People will look at what I do and say “nice, I have some layouts like that from a while back.” Ultimately, you find your own style and it’s ok to do whatever it is you want to do – no journaling to all journaling, 1 photo per page to 15 photos per page (thank Lea France and other stencil sellers for this!), creating a page from complete scratch to using pre-designed pages like Creative Memories has or just using a photo album with slide in cards so can do it quickly. There is no wrong way. Like Claudia above, I do this for me – not for any kids (don’t have any), so once I’m gone, most likely they will end up tossed out. But that’s ok because this is something I love to do and have to do.

  38. Jodie Williams

    For 5 years I belonged to a stamping/scrapbook group and kept up monthly and yearly with my scrap booking. The group broke up, I retired, moved and though I continue to consider myself a scrap booker, I have not had the discipline or structure I need to keep my lovely hobby going. I’m 3 years behind and very discouraged. I know it’s only in my own mind but I want to be more current. Life is moving so fast, I’m a new great grandmother so here’s another generation coming along in family history. You have helped me Jennifer. Love your blog and classes. Anxiously awaiting the book!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Could you find a satisfying way to document just the highlights of those three years with perhaps a timeline, a few layouts, and some pocket pages? Wanting to treating everything the same way I think is what gets us stuck and feeling “behind” too quickly.

  39. Maureen Van Dusky

    Non-conformist here all the way!! I was a communication arts major; college newspaper and yearbook editor in the late 80’s, early 90’s; self-taught pagemaker graphic artist by career. Once my daughter was born in 2000, I did my own style of handmade scrapbooks to rebel from computers.
    I further rebelled from the home Scrapbook companies who had parties a’ la Tupperware to sell you their products only and use them only one way to create a scrapbook.
    I was fortunate enough to design and teach classes at my local scrapbook store in Virginia from 2005-2008 using all sorts of product and supplies. The number one lesson I taught was to journal on every page something in your own handwriting and to never focus on being caught up. This overall lesson gave people the freedom to create a personal story without only the perfection of the product whether it be stamping letters or computer journaling or sticker letters; there was a piece of themselves in the layout which made it personal, maybe broke some rules, and told their unique story. It also gave them the freedom to scrap out of order so they could create whatever felt necessary to them at the moment and to take away the feeling of having to “catch up”.
    I moved across the country in 2008. I had two longer hospital stays in 2011 and 2013; stopped teaching; didn’t have a group, even online and stopped scrapping. I discovered Project Life and thought with some embellishments it would get me back in the game and would get me “caught up.”! I broke one if my own biggest rules!!
    I made two albums that covered most of 2011-2013 with PL, but my heart wasn’t in it. It was little more than an album. I think a lot was due to the volume of pictures even from 2008 until now are about ten times the amount.
    So now I’ve found my happy medium. I’ve found a great online group with challenges and I scrap the way I used to, but try new techniques. I’venade about 50 traditional paper pages in the past three months and enjoy the process of creating again. But I’ve also made about another 20 paper project life pages with the extra pictures and another 30 PL pages on the app with extra pictures.
    I have also scaled down my photos. They are more than I had in 2000 – 2008, but less than I’ve taken in 2011 – 2014.
    So yes. I’m a rebel. But a happy one who knows when and why.
    Looking forward to your book!

  40. Natalie (QSOgirl)

    I’ve never really considered myself to be a rebel, but I suppose that I am! I use strap-hinge albums because I hate page protectors, but I’ve never scrapbooked in the CM style. I scrapbook my layouts out of order (but keep them chronologically). I use mostly old product. I will go for weeks or months without scrapbooking because my passions will sway toward sewing for a while (and then they always sway back!)
    However, I work best with a set of constraints for any given project. When I make a mini-album, I am most happy with the result if I’ve planned the whole thing in advance. I love to work from kits or groupings of coordinated products (whether I’ve purchased them that way or I’ve put them together myself). I have a rigid system of photo organization and documentation that is extremely successful for me.
    I guess I’m a rebel who loves rules!

    • Jennifer Wilson

      I suspect your are in good company with other rebels who find comfort in creating structures and systems for themselves. I’d be one of those!

  41. Kathy Cline

    I’m definitely a rebel. I think the only rule I follow in scrapping is to use only acid free stuff, because I’ve seen how acid eats photos.

    I work for a photographer and retouch photos/create digital memory books with Photoshop for work with backgrounds, embellies and the works, so you would think I would do digital with my own stuff, but I don’t. I was an art major, and I love the hands on process and the joy of putting found objects onto my pages, and digital is too limiting and restrictive.

    I scrap 8 1/2 by 11″ (not 12×12). This is due to my previous training in composition… it’s easier to balance a rectanglular composition with multiple elements than a square, unless you go super simple, one photo, or abstract. When I do double layouts in 8 1/2 x 11 format, I have two rectangles, that together make one big rectangle. That just makes me happy. I never go to those workshops where the hostess precuts the paper for you and designs your page and you stick it together. I will order product I love and go to retreats. That doesn’t fit my style or my format, or satisfy my creative drive. I like my work to be unique and fit the photo.

    Sometimes if there’s a great story to be told that’s too long to be handwritten, I type it up and print it and put that right into the scrapbook, side by side with the photos. I’m all for incorporating handwriting, but writing a whole family story takes a long time by hand.

    I don’t stick to one paper or color set or rubber stamp line, or even two or three. I buy what I like from any line (although I do have favorites, they are many), and mix and match like crazy, using my photos as a guide, and color pulls it all together. Old with new to match my vision. For this reason I would never be able to be on any kind of design team because that would limit my choice of product.

    I’m a bargain hunter and love the thrill of the hunt. I find stuff everywhere, and I don’t always use products or kits for what they were intended. I bought a fabulous unused BasicGrey travel theme card kit with detailed instructions from a garage sale because I loved the color combination. I didn’t make even one card with it. I pulled the stuff I liked, cut and pasted and made several layouts. Then with the rest, I decorated and Mod Podged the cover for my new travel album. I find buttons, ribbons, lace, fibers and other materials at garage and estate sales. I buy paper sets on eBay when I fall in love with them, even if they are from ages ago.

    Although I like embellishments that tie things together, I don’t like my pages complicated or fussy in any way that will distract from the photo and the story. The photo and message is always the number one focus for me, and everything used needs to lead the viewer’s eye to that purpose.

    Oh, and I don’t own a cutting machine… although I’m leaning toward that purchase now that I see them going more toward letting you design your own cut designs.

  42. Susan Condon

    I think too many people have gotten lost in the idea that they have to own at least one of everything to get started on this hobby. People are still taking photos, actually more than ever before, but that’s the end of it. We are so busy “living in the moment” that we are forgetting to preserve those memories In a way that allows us to share that with others. We need to bring people back with simple, affordable, and flexible solutions.

    • Jennifer Wilson

      Yes, yes, YES!!

  43. Penelope Arden

    Follow rules? Why? I prefer making my own rules and happily pass them on to others. Yes, if there is part of an old photo torn off, put the photo in a frame and place a pig, or a flower, or whatever you please over the missing part. Love someone else’s cluster except for that one item that doesn’t fit the page. Erase it. Put something in it’s place.

    Stick to one kit for a page. Okay, sometimes. But if I want to put a fish swimming in a field one kit will not do. It was needed to illustrate the journal entry about that particular tall tale my Dad was telling. Journal entries, short or long, are so important to me.

    At one point I decided I should download all the lessons I found. I spent so much time watching videos, no time scrapping pages. The heck with that. Now I just go for it and do what I want.

    Too many photos? No kidding. I pick out the ones I really like and put them in a separate file. The one rule to that file is, “All Must be Scrapped.”

    Have fun with your pages and those reading them will have fun too. It is great to see someone smile, grin or even laugh out loud.

  44. Cheri

    I would say that from my very first introduction to the rule-laden ways of Creative Memories in the late 90’s, I have refused to abide by the rules. I knew a few CM consultants who were so die hard about the acid free, lignen free, do it my way methods that they wouldn’t let you in their crops if you brought any products other than CM. Obviously I didn’t hang with them for very long. I repped for two different direct sales companies from 2001-2008 and in both I was always searching for new and innovative ways to use their products and to combine them with other favorites outside that product line. It is my very strong belief that scrapbooking is a form of ART and ART is by its very nature a subjective thing. We should all be approaching scrapbooking from the standpoint of doing what brings us JOY regardless of what the person next to us is doing. It is so much more FUN if you just do your own thing and don’t bother with comparison!

  45. Mandy

    You are so right. I like making my own rules and making them up as I go too! That’s the beauty of being a creative – the ability to innovate, work inspired and create what works best for each of us. For me, it’s about what fits into my schedule, brings about joy and ultimately documents my favorite memories. Great post Jennifer!

  46. Julie

    I did scrapbooks as a child and I have always kept all the memorabilia from everything. I started CM style in 1996 but I didn’t always use their paper, stickers, etc. I do however love their books so I still have a ton to use up. But when they went under I had to find something new so I started looking around. I am still a very simplistic scrapbooker but I do like a paper background – not all that white! And when I finish an event or a year (whichever one it is as I jump around) I throw anything extra away immediately! I find it therapeutic, cleansing, and it helps keep memories alive. Now if I could just purge the supplies!!

  47. Fawn D Pender

    I started scrapbooking as a girl in the mid-50s, using the heavy covers from wallpaper sample books and leather thong to hold the pages together. I was a Camp Fire Girl, so we made “memory books” to reflect our work towards each rank, and filled them with memorabilia. Back then, with a stay-at-home mom, we didn’t just run to the store to buy project supplies, we used what we had. My first wedding pictures were in one of those fantastic “modern” albums with the sticky back pages covered in plastic film. When I joined Creative Memories 14 years ago, my first project was “rescuing” that album into a photo safe, archival album. I was never a “use all CM products or don’t scrapbook with me” consultant. I am, however, a fairly “naked” scrapper; I like my photos to tell the story and don’t use a ton of embellishments. I love to journal. I don’t consider myself a rebel, but I don’t blindly follow the rules, either. Who makes them, anyway??? I enjoy selling and using Close To My Heart products because our papers are beautiful and coordinate with our inks, etc., which makes my decision-making easier.

  48. Kathryn Quintana

    I think these are brilliant observations, and I can’t wait to read the new book. Fascinating subject and insights!

  49. Beatrice

    I have always done my own thing- the very first time I took classes at CKC in 2005 I changed things on the projects to fit my style and ascetic. I made a habit of bringing my own cardstock so I could turn single page layouts into double pages and to use a solid background when they only used pattern paper. I typical changed the photo arrangement and embellishment placement too. I don’t take project/layout classes now because I rearrange and change things so much I am basically just paying for the supplies anyway lol

    I have always tried not to worry about what was the norm- I mainly do double page layouts with lots pictures and that hasn’t been popular for ages lol I tried Project Life and failed lol. It wasn’t for me and felt like a chore, but I actually like the supplies and pocket pages and have been using them more for other projects and layouts. I spend hours on some layouts and get artistic and other come together real fast and that’s ok too- I have been learning to find my own balance between enjoying the process and finishing the projects I want/need to do.

  50. Jamie

    My tendency (of the 4 that Gretchen describes in her book) is Rebel 🙂 I make my own rules and often wonder why people get hung up on nuance. Defining a right way and a wrong way never even occurred to me. I just do what I like! On the other hand, if I don’t feel like doing something, even if I know I should or that it would be good for me to do, I can’t talk myself into it. It makes my life interesting…in more ways than just scrapbooking!

  51. SueB

    I would have to say that I am a rebel, even though I didn’t realize it. I know that my style has changed just as I have changed. I haven’t spent as much time on things as I would like to because of having children. I know that I had times when I get hung up on comparison….but I try not to get stuck there. I need to do what makes me happy and not worry about anything else or rules. Just have fun and enjoy what I make!

  52. Carmelle Landreville

    I’m never organized, if a try to organized too much, I will never have time to scrapbook or finish my album.
    I’m an artist and I like my albums reflect it… I didn’t learn digital yet. I think it’s because I like papers and embellishments.
    I have a scraprack but no more place to install it since my daught is living with me.. She took the basement, so I had to organise my scraproom another way.
    I’m always open to try new things… I like creative freedom… I agree with the point, to have lots of photos, I’m trying to use my old phtos presently.. Not doing the recent ones but trying hard to make my librairies. But didn’t have time to learn Lightroom and photoshop will be after I will understand lightroom…
    Maybe I’m rebel scrapbooker, I just try to do what I like and what gets me happy. I need rules to start and album and to follow it to the end… I need a plan because I want to know where I’m going with my album but I have a hard time to finish it. I’m stock with my Before your story, I don’t know how to finish it There are so many things I want to put in it. At first my plan was to make my life like genealogy but now I put some pages for my family with brothers and sisters, and after my and my dh and after my daughter with her 3 kids.
    I find so hard to stop making pages.I use project life pages and 12 x 12 layouts.. I think I should a no. 1 and a no. 2 of the same album because it is coming quite big… Also I still have many ideas to put in it…
    I love to see new ideas and adopt them to fit in my layouts…
    Presently I’m looking for ideas for an 50 birthday ann. for my daughter. I’m planning to start with her baby photos and follow with her grad and the activities she did… I,m reallu artsy and add things to reflect that….
    What matters to me is that my pages document the life memories.
    I use to make my scrapbooking layouts in English but now I want my albums in french so my grand kids can read them. So I will have to translate some of them to add them in my albums I’m doing…
    It’s sure I need to do my albums more simple to be able to finsh them… I want to make pages as storytelling, I have many ideas but didn’t start yet.
    The other thing that I’m motivate is to take the concept and make it my own… My goal is to get my family’s memories preserved. I don’t know if the pages are in the right design or not? I will like if in your new book, it wil have some advise to get my pages correctly presented, if I know it in advance, I will be glad to follow… I like to follow guidelines…. I brougt my album Before my story in vacancies, we had a family reunion. They all like it and now they want photos. That’s something they never talk before… So I think I just got the right thing to have them keeping some kind of memories. They were impress and they want to see more photos…. I think I’m in the category of “rebel” because I change things I use all what I learn since I was young… like embrodery, painting, etc. One day I start and alphabetic album 8 X 8 and and went with the e for embrodery and did some in the page and add the techniques like “b” for brads so there was many brads on the pages….etc.
    I was in a group of scrapbookers called Passit on… We exchange all kinds of things, we did a road robin bokk with whi did like to participate…
    I like the idea of C.J. S. to keep scrapliftable layouts ideas sorted by numbers of photos which cuts the getting started time…
    I like also the “good enough” and the done is better than perfect”…
    I’m also concern by the stories… I like this: I scrapbook for me first and for my daughter and my grnad kids… You have helped me Jennifer, I thank you for that… I think I will never stop doing scrapbooking. It’s a pleasure for me….
    I have another goal in my head, it’s to make kits to have materials ready to go faster to scrapbook, like kits for stories and for layouts.
    Thanks a lot Jennifer, I’m waiting for your new book!

  53. Melissa Shanhun

    Oh yes! I agree – many of my friends don’t scrapbook since they can’t “do it all”.

    I can’t do it all either. So I just do what I can.

    Thanks means lowering my expectations of myself, scheduling time, making it a priority. I still stuggle at times, but I have SOME stories told, not NONE.



  1. What Modern, Simple Scrapbooking Actually Looks Like - Simple Scrapper - […] Nobody Wants to Be a Rebel I explained why it’s time to rewrite the rules of scrapbooking. But what actually…

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