Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow

May this year bring you renewed hope and courage. Happy New Year.

Composite image of dancers and other elements
Credits for Dance Like There’s no Tomorrow: Adobe Stock Images, Jen Maddocks, and others.




Happy Holidays

May you all know the wonder and beauty that’s in our universe this holiday season.

Happy Holidays 2016 art journal page
I’m asking you to not let the kindness in you go extinct. . .Find the quieter places of defiant beauty. —John Pavlovitz

Too Much Stuff To Find Anything

Managing digital art supplies creatively

Last week I wrote about the Digital Scrapbook Day and Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales, and some advice I’d read on a few blogs about how to get ready for them—essentially, how not to blow the budget. Of course I did just that right off the bat with those wonderful budget-busting sales they like to call doorbuster sales, or Flash sales because they’re gone in an eye-blink. The stuff you buy, of course, stays with you no matter how many times you blink your eyes in disbelief at all you just bought. And now what the heck are you going to do to organize it and keep it from getting lost amidst all the megabytes, even terabytes, of other digital assets? Good advice I read was to take some time to clear out the older kits and assets so you wouldn’t be completely overwhelmed and driven out of hard drive space.

That’s good advice that I don’t often take, however. It’s good advice if you always work with individual kits, using just the papers and elements that the designer has included. It’s also good advice if you can’t afford the extra storage space it takes to keep all your scrapbook and art journaling supplies available to you without searching the archives for them. But if, like me, you often mix elements and papers from different kits, and if you can afford the additional drives to store them on, it’s nice to be able to quickly locate that brush or frame or cute kitten you remember having that you think would be perfect. You won’t mind trying different elements, either, to see what works best, if you can do that quickly. So I tend to mix “retirement” (archiving) with keeping some older kits still on my drives.

Just keeping more kits on hard drives doesn’t do enough for me, though. I can’t remember what’s in all the kits. I did try keywords, but that was way too tedious and cumbersome. I use them for photos, but not for digital assets anymore. I finally hit on a couple ways to organize that easily reflect my changing interests, and don’t demand too much of my time. The time I do spend is offset by saving time during the creation process, as well as helping me remember what I have.

Scrap page made with elements from many different kits
I use a lot of elements from different kits to create many of my scrap pages. If I had to remember what kits they were in, I’d never find them all. If I had to add keywords to everything so I could perform a search, that would take all the time I have. So I work with custom folders of elements I’ve duplicated, such as a folder of my favorite cats, toys, frames, or furniture. The elements in The Salt Shaker were found in many different custom folders.

The first method of organization was to take up more hard drive space duplicating some of the files and placing them into organized folders of their own. Not everything gets put into those folders. I call them “favorite shells” or “favorite scene papers,“ etc, but my “favorites” include papers and elements I think will be useful outside the kit they come with. At first I thought I might be sorry to give up drive space to a lot of folders containing duplicate files, but I’ve found that I constantly use these folders to add something to my pages. They’re a big part of what makes retiring some kits possible.

I do “retire” kits more often now that I have the best of them still in my folders of favorites, but I also keep their previews in folders so I don’t forget that I have them. The preview is just the small JPEG file that comes with each kit. I copy these into a folder of previews, then put them in stacks (which you can do with either Adobe Bridge or Photoshop Elements Organizer). For example, kits that are primarily red and green go in one stack, while the orange and yellow kits are in another, all in a folder for color sorting. I’ve also sorted copies of the previews into different folders using different criteria, such as a Theme folder giving me Vintage or Winter kits in their own stacks, or a folder of Presets, such as glitter styles and edge brushes.

Stacks of themed previews
Just a few of the “theme” stacks I’ve created to hold previews of the kits I’ve bought over the years. I created a cover sheet to help me find the right theme quickly.

The stacks of previews often give new life to kits. I spot kits, old and new, that go together when I’m sorting them. I then sort them into a folder that previews kits that pair well, the same way designers often partner with each other to create a kit, and now I can use them together to create a whole new look. Previews have also become a quick look inside my creative world. I’ve discovered that I have a strong affinity for certain color schemes and themes, even if I don’t have need more going by what I have to journal or scrap. I now consciously try to expand my creative horizons by looking for new styles and palettes, and when I see another Autumn or Seaside kit (huge favorites of mine), I try to resist them if they look too much like what I already have. That way I do mind my budget a bit better, although I still can’t resist a good Flash sale.

Courage To Continue art journal page
Even when I’m focusing on a single kit for a layout, I usually find that I want something additional, as I did here with this art journal page based on a kit by Jen Maddocks. Sometimes using a template also calls for an element a kit doesn’t include, and if I decide I want additional elements, I can quickly locate them in my”favorites” folders of duplicate files.




When We Overindulge

Digital Scrapbook Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Right before the new Digital Scrapbook (and Art Journal) Day, I read a few blog posts about how to handle a week of frenzied indulgence in new kits, tools, and commercial use grab bags. And of course, this applies to the very next month when we not only were overindulging in scrap art supplies, but in anything and everything else as well. How would we manage it all? One bit of advice was to make a budget and stick to it. That is very safe, good advice—from someone who obviously has never attended a Flash sale. These scrapbooking supplies going at 75-90% off are often called doorbusters—the loss leader that gets you through the door to buy something else while you’re there. If there were truth in advertising, however, these would properly be called “budget busters.” That’s what they really are; the unexpected sale that is so good, it simply can’t be passed up.

These budget busters make it impossible for you to stick to your budget and still get the items you want that are on sale, but not quite as eyepopping a sale. Often, we’ve chosen these more expensive items to purchase on sale because they work for a project we have in mind or already have in progress. They aren’t absolutely necessary to the project, but the project would go better for having them.  We don’t really want to sacrifice getting something extra special for a project just to stick to a budget, or exercise so much self-control, we don’t enjoy the unexpected journeys a flash sale leads us on. Not if we have the option to purchase a bit more. We all have budgets, and one of the reasons we shop the sales is there are many items we would love to have, but can’t quite justify having at full price. But that’s not the only reason to shop the sales.

I would argue that the Flash sales are something different and worth the ruin of our budget if we engage in them with more purpose than winning by dying with the most scrap supplies. (Yeah, I’m too often playing that game, too.) Most of the scrap art designers I have discovered, I’ve found because some kit or action or brush set of theirs was so cheap, I could try their work and not mind if their product just didn’t live up to my expectations for it, or if my ability to make good use of it was currently too limited. Flash sales might help you pick up more from a favorite designer than you would, because you know you don’t need more from them, but what they’re really good at is finding a designer whose style is different from what you’re used to, or who is offering a creative tool through an action or brush or layer style—some product that will get you to stretch your imagination and will help you grow as a a creative person. Sometimes there’s a very good reason to loosen up a bit, about budgets as well as your artistic endeavors. Finding potentially more expressive tools is one of those reasons.

Next time I’ll talk a bit about what you might do with this stuff to organize it in ways that will help you later use it more creatively.

Image depicting you can't kill a good idea like democracy, but you can bury it for a long time
Scrap art for democracy. “Homage to Carrie.” Credits belong mainly to itKuPiLLi and Finecrafted.