From the Desk of Nettio Designs Issue No. 9
Hello hello and welcome to From The Desk of Nettio Designs Issue No. 9!
Behind the scenes at Nettio Designs this past week, my team and I have been having an interesting discussion about Creative Teams, galleries and the role they play in digital scrapbooking. One of the things we’ve all agreed on is that the role galleries play has changed a lot in just the last few years, especially with regards to CTs and product promotion.
Back in 2006 when I first started digital scrapbooking, especially after DigiShopTalk first opened, galleries were king. If you wanted to get your latest product seen, one of the best ways you could do this was by having a talented member of your team create a layout that stood out in the gallery. Galleries were the place to see and be seen and I can certainly remember spending hours and hours browsing the galleries for inspiration. There was so much eye candy!
Fast forward to today in 2013, and it would seem at least on the surface, that digital galleries play a much less prominent role in our digital scrapbooking community. Unfortunately, zero comment and low view layouts are the norm in some of the bigger galleries and it seems in general that people spend much less time browsing galleries for inspiration than they did at one time.
So what happened? Why did this change?
Well I’m sure some of it is due to the rise of social media sites like Pinterest or Facebook, as well as the many many years of technical issues suffered by big gallery sites like DigiShopTalk. Or maybe as a community, we’ve simply evolved past the point of needing as much inspiration as we did in those early days.
But I have one other factor that’s rarely mentioned but I think is important to discuss: the rise of templates.
Now I know, as a template designer that may be a weird statement for me to make. But here’s the thing:
Back in the wild west days of scrapbooking, templates didn’t exist. And yes, if you’ve ever seen someone’s first layout from back then, it’s probably terrifying, haha. There was definitely a MUCH higher learning curve in those days!
But at the same time, that steeper learning curve also meant there was much more room for growth and creativity. If you wanted to be on the best Creative Teams or work with the top designers, you needed to improve your design skills and find a style that would make your layouts stand out from everyone else. And in a lot of ways, that pioneering spirit was good for the digital scrapbooking industry, because it encouraged people to step outside their comfort zones which pushed the industry forward.
Today the scene is a bit different. Thanks to the evolution of templates, a lot of that initial learning curve has been lessoned which, in a lot of ways, is awesome! It’s easier than ever for new scrapbookers to get started and it’s hard to deny the overall quality of digital scrapbooking layouts in galleries has improved thanks to an abundance of templates.
But one of the downsides of templates is the tendency they have to homogenize, or create a certain level of sameness throughout a digital gallery.
For example, let’s say you have 3 template designers, each with their own unique style. Then let’s say, 3 different scrapbookers buy templates from each of them. Assuming each of those scrapbookers use the templates as designed, you now have 12 scrapbookers (including the designers) whose layouts represent only 3 main styles.
What I loved about galleries in the pre-template days was that unless you were a hardcore scraplifter (and most people weren’t), those layouts from the 12 scrapbookers would have represented 12 individual styles. And while everyone’s “style” back then wasn’t necessarily amazing (and I put my own early layouts firmly into that category as well, haha), you were much more likely to come across someone who’s style was completely unique and amazing than you probably are today.
Now before you go grabbing your pitchforks and running me out of digi land, haha, let me assure you I am in no way suggesting we do away with templates. Far from it. I am all for the template-y goodness as much as any of you.
I design templates because I see them as an awesome tool for jump-starting your creativity, building your confidence and making more complicated or out-of-your-comfort-zone styles a little bit easier and more doable. But if you’ve read all of my various posts on creatively capturing your life adventures, it probably comes as no surprise that my goal as a template designer has never been to create a scrapbooking army of Mini-Me’s. That would be quite weird actually, haha.
Plus there’s a little part of me that wonders if templates had existed in their current form back when I first started scrapbooking, would my style have evolved the way it has? While it took me a few years to really find my own unique style, I do know that those early days of pushing myself to be different from everyone else, whether it was scrapbooking 8.5×11 when everyone was doing 12×12 or going linear and graphic when everyone was all clustery and angled, did help to shape the scrapbooker I am today.
I guess what I’m wondering from all of this is how we can find balance. How can we balance creativity and personal style with the ease and confidence that comes with using templates? How can we get back some of that early digi-land pioneering spirit and creative learning without giving up everything we’ve gained since then? And, perhaps from my own perspective, how can I as a designer create products that help you to embrace your own creative spirit and personal style while still providing you with that leg up when you need it?
It’s an interesting question and one that at this point I don’t know that I have all the answers for just yet. But I’m willing to investigate, so stay tuned…
With that I’m going to bring this weeks installment of From the Desk of Nettio Designs to a close. As always if you’d like to share your own thoughts with me, you’re more than welcome to leave a comment below and share away. I’ll be back next week with more thoughts on scrapbooking, life and creatively capturing your life adventures. See you then!
This post is Issue No. 9 of my From The Desk of Nettio Designs weekly email series. Want to get in on the action? Sign up for Nettio Designs emails here.