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Artsy Heritage Digital Scrapbooking

By Tuesday, February 13, 2018 (MST) 22 Comments

Today, I’m sharing about an artsy heritage digital scrapbooking project that I have been doing with my Mum since the beginning of the year.

Artsy Heritage Digital Scrapbooking

The New Project

This year the focus is heritage.

I believe there is a time and place for everything.

Last month, we were able to visit my parents at their new home in Northern Scotland.

During this time I happened across 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.

The Perfect Match

I’ve been able to gather lots of ‘old’ photos, dabbling a little here and there with artsy heritage digital scrapbooking.

But these moments happened long before my time and so the stories are missing.

A few years ago, I purchased an Ancestry subscription for my Mum.

She has the interest, and researching our family history has kept her busy, and frustrated at times, during the winter months of her retirement.

The 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks project provided the perfect opportunity for us to collaborate.

Mum celebrated her birthday during our visit and I’m ever conscious that time waits for no-one.

We agreed that every week in year 2018:

  • Mum would provide a story, and images if available, based on the prompt.
  • I would create a layout in Photoshop using these materials.

The ultimate goal is to have a 52 page photo book at the end of the year.

The first page features a photo we took in her garden after we had decided to move forward with the project.

The Process

A plan or map is crucial to starting, and ultimately succeeding, in any project.

I talk about this a LOT in my Project Classes.

You have to know where you are going and what you are doing in order to make progress.

This is why I have not previously attempted a heritage project.

For me, the chronological approach is neither interesting, nor practical.

Just the thought of it is over-whelming, and uninspiring, if I’m honest.

Prompts provide the opportunity to tell more specific stories, as opposed to sharing just facts.

The use of prompts to guide my projects is familiar to my digital scrapbooking process.

And the bonus is that they’re being provided for this particular project.

A plan also helps with the formatting and consistency of pages.

ALL my layouts are created at 12 X 12 inches, and then resized to 10 X 10 inches, for printing in a 12 X 12 photo book.

  • Both .psd files are stored for flexibility if I change my mind about my printed project.
  • The journaling is 13 pt in the 12 X 12 layouts, much larger than I like, but this reduces to just under 11 pt in the resized layouts.
  • The elements are also resized individually to maintain scale.

The 10 X 10 layouts are then paired in a double-page format.

The white 1 inch border has 2 functions:

  • Provides separation between 2 unrelated pages.
  • Accommodates the bleed area for printing.

The Challenges

There are ALWAYS challenges in every project regardless of your experience.

1. The Journaling

There is a LOT of it and I’m not used to that.

Making the words fit in an aesthetically pleasing fashion is proving to be tricky.

Especially on a canvas that is 2 inches smaller than usual.

The journaling is the foundation of the page and therefore the priority.

I take the stance, that you cannot have your cake and eat it, therefore sacrifices have to be made.

I could create a double-page for each prompt but then this would result in a photo book with up to 104 pages.

2. Photo Scarcity

What? No Photos?

There were fewer photos back then.

This means, you can use your creative license to support the stories that lack photos.

Use DigitalART to add imagery to your layouts.

Employ the use of fonts and text in your compositions.

Add a touch of handwriting or ephemera.

The Verdict

We’re making the digital artistry magic happen one page at a time.

This artsy heritage digital scrapbooking project is by no means perfect.

Nor is it’s completion guaranteed.

The progress is nevertheless real, and is what is driving the momentum.

We just completed our 7th page and are working according to plan.

You never stop learning in your digital scrapbooking and artistry, no matter who you are.

Along the way I am:

  • Experimenting
  • Observing
  • Assessing
  • Tweaking
  • Modifying

The aim is find what you like and then do more of it.

And hopefully in less time.

Are you currently working on an artsy heritage digital scrapbooking project? What prevents you from starting one and staying on track?

I’d love to have a conversation in the comments below.

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Anna Aspnes

Author Anna Aspnes

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Join the discussion 22 Comments

  • Trish says:

    OM Goodness Anna this is absolutely stunning! I would love to do one with all the family history I have now. Only wish I had been able to do this when my dad is alive, but I think I will try one even though he is not here in his memory and the 40 odd years he dedicated to researching his family. Thanks for sharing – totally beautiful.

  • Deborah Brown says:

    It’s fantastic that you have the opportunity to do this with your mother and to the extent that you are doing it. I’ve wanted to do something for a long time . . .ever since my Dad died. He left me a lot of photos and some stories, but not in much order or organization. I spent most of one winter trying to organize part of it, but it was overwhelming. So, I decided to just focus on a few photos at a time and put them in a format that the grandchildren might look at in the books that I do for them about their lives. On the whole that worked quite well, but I would love to do more and am so inspired by what you are doing.


  • Beverly says:

    This is so exciting, and impressive Anna, with the story writing, and information your mum has gathered from her research. My own story telling has begun; I have stories from my childhood I want to record, along with photos of a few generations. Mostly I have copies of census records to include, and would like to subscribe to a research databank. For me, getting the photos scanned, and onto a page will be a huge accomplishment. The neat thing about using digital, pages and text can easily be edited. Thank you for all the tips and link for prompts. Your pages are so beautiful!

  • Karen Ing says:

    Great Inspiration! I started my first scrapbook on my husband’s family who came to Hawaii in the 1880s from China. They worked the rice fields and had children and then they all packed up and went back to China. The males started returning in 1911 during the period of the Chinese Exclusion Act to work. I have lots of interrogations that the government kept. My father-in-law, who is 90, was born in Hawaii as was my husband. I discovered more information after I finished the book so I am starting again. I love your plan and have signed up for the prompts. I am as WASP as they come and my roots go back to early England and Scotland. That is a story for another day. Thank you for sharing. Your Mother is an excellent writer!

  • annette says:

    Great post, Anna! I’ve been approaching my heritage project in a very similar way – more story-based (thankfully my grandmother was a memory keeper as well, and left us a small old suitcase of hers filled with her poetry, memoirs, photos, etc). You had a question above, what prevents you from starting a heritage project, and what keeps you on track? I was initially discouraged as I thought the project would be overwhelming (800+ photos to sort, scan, and label, yikes!). What keeps me on track? The end result, which will be 200+ pages of stories & photos of our family, who we are and where we came from. I know it is something that will be treasured so much by our extended family.

    Your post is inspiring me to get back to work on this project. I absolutely LOVE the pages you’ve posted and hope you share more with us as the project moves forward!

  • Sandy Paulsen says:

    I love what you and your Mom are doing, heritage is my next project – I’m a bit luckier than most, I had someone help me who is passionate about genealogy and I also went to great lengths to find photos from aunts and uncles, scanned them all and fixed them up in photoshop AND everything is in order. My stash is ready to go, now I just have to be creative and you have helped me with that. I also love your ideas. What I would like to know is what font you are using? It really suits the heritage side of things. Thanks for everything Anna.

  • Ulla-May says:

    Absolutely love these pages.

  • Jane says:

    I love your artsy pages but would like some ideas on integrating more traditional pages into a book
    with artsy ones. I’ve a fair number of more traditional heritage pages and also own a number of heritage kits.
    Will you be addressing this issue in your upcoming LIVE class?

  • Kay says:

    Anna, this is wonderful! How fortunate you are to be able to collaborate with your mother. My brother is the only close relative still living, so it’s a challenge. Like Jane above, I’ve been working on my family history for years, and I started a traditional style heritage scrapbook a while back. But, I would love to incorporate artistry pages with those pages. I would also like to take your class, but I cannot do the live session. Can I do this as self-paced class? If so, I’m in!

    • Anna Aspnes says:

      Hi Kay – It was a timely project for sure. My Mum is fast approaching 70 and is not getting any younger so a sequence of events guided me into this and I have never looked back. The session will be LIVE but will be recorded. You will have immediately access to the REPLAY after the session ends. I will then edit the recording into a series of shorter sessions for self-paced viewing within 1-2 weeks so that you have access to it. Let me know if you have any further questions.

  • Kay says:

    Thanks, Anna. The replay and shorter sessions sounds great. I’ll sign up!

  • agilchrest says:

    Thanks Anna for the inspiration. I have been playing around with this idea on my genealogy blog where I am sharing the family stories.

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