There are a lot of variations on the adage, "When a door closes, a window opens," each a reminder to keep holding on to hope, an act that requires a shift in perspective.
I tend to fixate on closing doors and stare them down long after they have been slammed and sealed. Sometimes I don't notice the open window, and when I do, I shrug it off -- it's a window, not a door. What am I supposed to do with a freaking window? I want my door back.
This is what I am experiencing at the moment when I think about the state of the scrapbooking industry, where once, it felt as if multiple doors were flung wide open and there were near-360-degree views. Light came in from all angles. Then the doors started closing, one by one, and the windows started disappearing, and now, there is still, at least, one window -- there will always be at least one window, I hope -- but more and more, it resembles a tiny aperture in a stuffy cell where the only door in or out has been sealed and rusts on its hinges.
Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic. I'm in a mood. :)
Over the past few years, so many of my favorite companies and kit clubs have stopped producing collections, have disbanded their design teams, and shut down their websites and blogs, which has impacts for diversity, creativity, and opportunity. When Two Peas in a Bucket closed, my heart hurt and I feared for what this meant for the scrapbooking world at large, but I set my sights on the nearest open window.
Today, the few companies that remain often produce collections that are difficult to differentiate from each other, and when there is fresh and new product, the time between releases is far too lengthy. I suppose it all comes down to supply and demand. I haven't stopped demanding, but I guess others have.
From a business angle, there seems to be a push away from traditional scrapbooking layouts and product and toward traveler's notebooks and pocket-page approaches, which I never saw as problematic (the more expressions, the merrier, right?) until Studio Calico decided to release its last scrapbooking kit last month, which floored me. Now, this week, I learned that Get It Scrapped is ending its membership this coming January, so I will be saying goodbye to one more team, one more source of inspiration.
Still, let me focus on the window for a moment -- even though the filtered light coming through it is heavy with dust motes, I know that the true source of the light need not be from outside the room. It may sound trite, but the light can come from me. The open window could be in me. This is something that Get It Scrapped taught me, actually, with its emphasis on process, not products. It did not market "stuff," but rather, existed to teach design and to encourage mindfulness as a key component of one's creative process. Every layout that I have completed for the team was never focused on using Product A from Company X. Instead, these pages challenged me to be more attentive of the hows and whys of page design.
Take my most recent layout, for instance:
This layout is part of a Get It Scrapped blog feature on using the lines in photos to strengthen page design. Because this was the emphasis, I was given complete freedom to use the "stuff" in my stash, no matter how old or new, without having to overtly market it. As such, I could approach it from a creative perspective instead of from a consumer's perspective, if that makes sense.
And now that I think of it, THAT is the opening window that I need to see. Creativity and not consumerism needs to be the focus. A reduction in the latter need not compromise the former. A scarcity of new product does not need to be the end of expression. If the only thing driving the creative spirit at the heart of the memory-keeping world is "new stuff," that's a problem. I've been guilty of connecting my love of crafting with a love of new product, and I need to rethink that relationship. The industry is not the hobby.
I'm not saying that "new stuff" isn't great to have; I'm just saying that a scarcity of it shouldn't lead to the end of a hobby that I love even more than the product associated with it. This is a great moment for diversification and adaptation. Maybe the fact that mainstream products are limited could mean that smaller companies or even individuals with creative visions might have a chance to implement fresh and new ideas; maybe independent designers might now have a chance to find their niche instead of being eclipsed by mainstream manufacturers. Kit clubs that once relied on mainstream manufacturers can now seek out independent artists and form productive relationships that benefit multiple parties.
Maybe I have it all wrong, and maybe I am just in Jerry Maguire manifesto-mode, but I'm hoping that perhaps doors are overrated, perhaps doors are really just a state of mind, and that even as the walls seem to be closing in, all we have to do is punch through them in order to create the windows that will change our views entirely.