One of the most helpful things I picked up from pixels2Pages before I was a Pixie myself was the importance of having my content organized. But not organized in a “one size fits all” way – organized in a way that makes sense to me, and works with the way I scrap.
If you’ve read through all the helpful tutorials and watched the videos we’ve been posting about the content manager over the last 2 months or so, you might be a little shocked to learn that I don’t use categories much at all. Don’t be shocked – I don’t use categories because of the way I scrap, and the way I think about scrapping, and that’s actually completely fine.
Let me explain. For a start, I live in Australia, where some of the big yearly events that many of you in the northern hemisphere participate in (Halloween, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Canada Day, Memorial Day, Spring Break…) are either not celebrated or are not really big events. Yes, some Aussies do celebrate things like Halloween & Valentine’s Day, and we have our own holidays, like ANZAC Day and Australia Day, but in my family many of those other events are not celebrated. Secondly, my family is not big on decorations and all the traditions that go along with special events or celebrations. We usually travel at Christmas to family in the country. The weather is hot, we’re busy with end of year activities (everything here runs on the calendar year), we’re tired and looking forward to a summer break. We don’t do a big build up to Christmas, where we decorate the house and bake sugar cookies and make wreaths… Most years I barely manage to throw some Christmas decorations together, we often don’t even have a tree, and we don’t do Christmas lights (which I hasten to add are a huge thing for many Aussie families). At Easter, we don’t go for all the bunnies and chocolate eggs. We spend Easter with my family in the Blue Mountains, enjoying autumn leaves and attending a Christian convention where we catch up with old friends.
All of that explains in part why, when it comes to scrapping, I don’t really think of digital content in categories like “Christmas”, “Easter”, “Thanksgiving” etc… I don’t usually have a lot of photos to scrap from these events, and I certainly don’t have snow pictures – so kits full of snowflakes, santas and word art about chestnuts roasting on an open fire are not much use to me! When I am scrapping, I don’t think of a flower or a frame as being specifically for Christmas or Easter, just because it came in a kit called “Christmas Fun” or “The Joy of Easter”. To me, it is a flower – a pink flower, a naturalistic flower, a flower with texture – that I could use on any page, and it is a frame – a metallic-look frame, a portrait orientation frame, a doodled frame – that I could use for any photo it works with. And it’s the same with papers. Even though it came in a Thanksgiving kit, I can and will use it on any page where the colour and pattern work with my photos and style. So for me, categorising whole kits under topics (whether by event or style or content type) just doesn’t make sense.
What does work for me is tagging. I tag everything in every kit, as soon as I download it. If I don’t have time to tag it, I don’t install it until I do. I have LOTS of tags, and I use them extensively when scrapping. With my Library folders organised by designer, it’s easy to find similar kits to give my pages a cohesive look when needed. But when it comes to searching for the perfect embellishment or paper for a particular page, tags are the answer for me. I usually start my pages with the photos – so then I go on the hunt for a particular colour or pattern in my papers that I think will work. If I’m after a grungy look, I’ll go to my grunge tag; if I want green, I’ll search out the green papers first. Of course I can adjust the hue of a paper to work with my photos, but I’ve found that’s often a lot easier if you start with a paper that’s in the same part of the spectrum and just needs a bit of tweaking, rather than starting with a heavy dark brown and trying to make it pale green.
Tags are even more helpful when it comes to embellishments. If there’s a specific item I want that’s not going to be in every kit (like a clock, or a monkey or a water drop), my tags help me find it so quickly, without having to remember which kits might have those items, and then open each one to see if it has what I need. If I’m doing a page about a car trip, I can quickly find all the road sign and tyre-track embellishments I have; if I’m scrapping about a family meal, I can find all my food and cooking-related embellishments in a snap. When I want a mask or an overlay, my tags take me straight there. The other way I use tags is to identify kits I might want to use for the whole page. So if I’m doing a page about a new baby and I want a teddy embellishment, I’ll scroll through my toys tag and find a teddy I like, then go to the kit that came from and perhaps use other embellishments and papers that match the teddy in colour, tone and style, to give my page a nice cohesion.
Something I absolutely love about Artisan is the ability to make the tags I want, and tag items in a way that makes sense to me. Using tags, you can make up your own “kits” with content from many different kits. I’m currently working on my brother’s wedding album, so I made a tag called R&A (their initials), and whenever I find an item in a kit that I think would work for that album, I tag it. There might be only one or two pieces from a particular kit that I want, but once they’re tagged, they are all gathered together to work with, and I don’t have to keep changing kits as I’m scrapping. When I’m done with that album, I can remove that tag.
Here’s a layout that illustrates how my organisation strategy works. If you were doing a page about a visit to an air force museum, you might not automatically open a kit called Vintage Trains – but with the help of my tags I found this kit, which I think is just perfect for planes too! Content: Vintage Trains Bundle by Lucky Girl Creative, museum logo re-created using a custom shape for the A, a photo and Arial Black. A very simple page, but I think it works!