Friday, 23 January 2009

Behind the Scenes (South African Scrapbook Industry)

Finally! I have managed to copy & paste this onto my blog for all to see...have been trying all week but my HTML couldn't be accepted. I don't know a lot of Candice's work 'cos I haven't lived here long enough but what I saw on her blog was gorgeous - almost edible...

Could really relate to this sad little tale - so much so in fact that, rather than just giving you guys a link, I wanted to go the whole hog & have a record of it on my blog forever. It's rather a long read but riveting stuff...

Rescued by pretty paper, repositionable adhesive & a beautiful blonde dog...

Not to put too fine a point on it, but so far 2009 has sucked - big time. The past few weeks have been stressful, incredibly sad, eye-opening & very, very lonely.
So this is where I just have to say it - thank God for scrapbooking!
With all my decorating & gardening projects I had on the go last year, scrapping definitely took a back seat. In fact, if I said I scrapped half a dozen pages in 2008, I may very well be exaggerating. My heart just wasn't in it.

My one & only resolution this year is to scrapbook more {finally a resolution I will be able to keep}. My goal has been a layout a week & so far I'm right on target - yay me!
Being able to sit quietly & play with pretty paper & letter stickers & glitter has been my sanity saver; my confidence booster; my spirit lifter; my little life raft in an ocean of sadness that has threatened to engulf me every single day for the last few months...

Somehow I had forgotten just how good being creative feels; how deeply satisfying it is to stand back & look at a completed layout & be able to think, "at least I can do one thing right."
Well gee, this is really starting to sound like a pity party & that was not my intention at all {although if they are serving cupcakes at this particular pity party, hell yeah count me in and I'll have milk & sugar with my cup of freshly brewed misery, thank you very much!}

No, my intention is to celebrate how the simple act of being creative can heal so many hurts & bring such unexpected joy. My intention is to remind myself just how much I love scrapbooking and more importantly why I love it.
You see, somewhere along the way I lost {perhaps 'mislaid' is a better word} my passion for scrapping - something I never, ever thought would happen.
Not in a million, billion, trillion years!

I began to associate scrapbooking with bitchiness & backstabbing; gossip & endless drama; jealousy & duplicity; plagiarism & politics; empty promises & blatant lies.
I was used & abused & taken advantage of more times than I care to remember. I gladly shared my time, my talent & my ideas with women whom I later discovered had no ethics, morals or scruples; women who thought nothing of {pardon my french} screwing their "friends" over in an effort to get ahead, make a quick buck or get themselves noticed.

I began to question my judgement; I felt like a complete idiot for being so naive & gullible, for being duped again & again by people who called themselves my friends. I was angry at them for betraying my trust, and even angrier at myself for not seeing through all the bullshit & lies, especially the second & third & fourth time around {yes, I'm a sucker for punishment, what can I say?}.

And so I became jaded & cynical and slowly but surely, the joy was sucked out of scrapbooking for me. All it was adding to my life was stress, frustration & buckets full of tears. I made a conscious decision to withdraw from the world I had immersed myself in for so many years - no more message boards or online galleries; no more classes or crop nights; no more publications or columns - nope, I was done.
Or so I thought...

Having taken a huge step back, I was able to view the scrapping scene from the sidelines - objectively & dispassionately. Suddenly I had a fresh perspective & with it came an Oprah-style A-ha! Moment: it was not scrapbooking itself that I was disillusioned with, it was the industry & the culture it seems to have spawned.
A culture of rampant greed & bitter rivalry; professional jealousy & one-upmanship; outright dishonesty & an alarming amount of skulduggery.
During my stint as a "professional" scrapbooker I have been privy to a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that has left me dismayed, outraged & on occasion shocked to the very core.

Who would've thought paper & glue could be the source of such treachery? That stickers & ribbons could illicit drama fit to rival the plot of any soap opera you care to think of?

All of this flies in the face of what scrapbooking is really meant to be about - a wholesome, healing, creative endeavor that should be undertaken with love & peace & joy, not to mention honesty & integrity; an activity that should nurture the spirit, foster friendships & celebrate sisterhood.
To my mind scrapbooking should make you feel warm & fuzzy & happy & skippy & bouncy :o)
Not to mention satisfied & proud & content!
If it makes you feel anything less than that then perhaps you need to ask yourself if you are doing it for the right reasons.
Or maybe you should try another hobby like rock collecting or something.

I cannot deny it.
The simple truth is that I love scrapbooking {and rock collecting is really not all it's cracked up to be}!
I love the entire process. I love what it represents. I love how it makes me feel.
I am grateful for the doors it has opened & the opportunities I have had to meet some remarkable women that I am honoured to call my friends.
I am in awe of the power it has to heal, to connect people, to forge friendships, to turn ordinary women into artists & storytellers, to give us the opportunity to be able to stand back & admire our latest creation & think just for a moment, "Damn, I'm good"!!

I cannot imagine my life without scrapbooking. Or taking photos. Or journaling.
Or shopping for supplies ;o)
It makes me happy.
It calms me down. It gives me focus. It nurtures my spirit & feeds my soul.
Some say it's cheaper than therapy, others may beg to differ on that one... but when all is said & done, scrapbooking adds immeasurable value to my life :o)

So I will sit in my pretty little pink & white studio & I will scrapbook just because I can.
I will listen to the sounds of the sea instead of rumours & the latest scrapping scandals.
I will scrapbook for myself, not for an audience, or to earn money.
I will be more discerning when it comes to choosing my scrapbooking companions. For now the beautiful blonde dog lying at my feet will do just fine. I don't think she has a hidden agenda, but these days you never know. She may very well be plotting to steal my ideas, pass them off as her own & sell them in exchange for bones... I guess I'm just going to have to take my chances on that one!
I will gladly post my pages here, not for accolades or compliments or criticism, but because I believe wholeheartedly in sharing ideas & knowledge & inspiration unreservedly with like-minded people.

So, what I want to know is...
a) does this ring any bells with scrappers around the world or is it specifically a South African phenomenon?
b) SA Scrappers - know what Candice is talking about & how did you/do you deal with it?
c) How to avoid it? For me, I started scrapping at home a year ago & have never looked back. I was feeling rather lonely though so started my blog, which has definitely solved THAT problem, lol! I don't have a blonde dog but was rescued by 2 lovely kittykats that love to keep me company.


Anonymous said...

This is so sad! The only compensation is that we now know for sure that we are not alone in this strange situation. I really thought that mature grown up women who share a love of scrapping should be above this kind of immature behaviour - obviously not.

Jenny in Durbs said...

Wow thats really quite sad that people abuse others. I scrap for myself & its definately a "me "thing but really enjoy getting together with other scrap minded people (infrequently due to my lifestyle unfortunately) - its very social & friendly BUT I have been with some "superior minded scrappers" & quite honestly that was unpleasant & I am very careful now when I attend a class or crop as it is meant to be a wonderful time for "me." Although obviously I am not in the league where someone would want to use my creations LOL ! Most Durban scrap shop owners who also give classes are very open & will help in any way. I do think though you have to respect & abide by their "copyright" as it is a creation belonging to them. Is this a sign of the times ? society is certainly not what I think it should be - there seems to be a lack of community and more of what" can I get out of it mentality". My daughter & I were enjoying a class at Greyville this year with Maryna from Occasions when another store owner came by & proceeded to photograph the l/o we were doing !!! It was unbelievable & so blatant. I like to believe its not a SA phenomenon but then people do say I wear rose tinted glasses I am always trying to find the positive in everything.

Anonymous said...

Learn from Candice, Helen and watch your back.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you should have been a writer! (I'll be back to read your post, but right now I have to put the children in their beds!) just wanted to tell you I'm so happy you're on the LSOS DT too!!! I just love your creations! Look forward to working with you!
I'll be back soon, have a nice day,
(I'll post as anonymous, because blogger isn't working...)

Vicki said...

There is a lot of it around unfortunately and not just in SA and yes even here in NZ. Have you read Becky Higgins comments on her blog over the 365 days kit as there were some really nasty and angry people leaving comments.

Andrea said...

Sadly Candice's comments are very very true and I think she has had a very hard time in the industry over the years and she is right, in my experience, it can be a very dog eat dog, backstabbing place to be.

As to whether or not it is exclusively a South African thing, no way....I remember reading an article out of the States a year or so ago where the writer refered to the "Debbie Designers" and "Susie Scrapbookers" of the industry and just how bitchy those designers can be and how they are destroying the beauty of the hobby for the rest of us.

Fortunately however most of this backstabbing and infighting goes on amongst a small "select" few and won't impact on the vast majority in the hobby....thank heavens.


Monique said...

LOL! Now I have the time to really read your post, I discover that you have copied & pasted a whole part of it...and I thought you should have been a writer! About your post: all I can say is watch your back, it's happening all over the (scrapbooking) world, in The Netherlands too, but then again it's probably happening in every other industry as well. It's sad, but true.

And no, I won't ever post a comment as anonymous again!!

Bye, Monique

Mette Thomas said...

Yup its everywhere even in Australia where we are normally laid back about most things. The common denominator is women im afraid when women get together thats what happens. When men are mixed in not as much bitchiness and oneup man ship happen. Unfortunalty us women are terrible and wonderful at the same time.


Jenny said...

Have to agree - it's a women thing. And even when you've been the helper to someone else they can turn around and treat you as if you don't exist. I can understand some of the anger that was expressed on the Becky H blog as Primedia was just not organised sufficiently to deal with the orders they got in for P365.