Photo albums are not going to make or break your art store, but they can be a great point of inspiration for gift-giving. Photo albums—along with scrapbooks, journals and planners—are a recognizable item for “non-artists” who may be shopping in your store.
More than 95 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every single day. Yes, you read that correctly. That’s almost 35 billion photographs a year, on just one social platform. We are taking more photos than ever before, and they are living on our phones in a digital graveyard. Printed photographs have become novelty items. With the rebirth of Polaroid and the popularity of Instax cameras we know that photographs aren’t going anywhere and physical copies of milestones, memories or fleeting moments are very desirable. How do you pull them out of a digital graveyard and put them into the real world? Put them in an album!
Creating Space for Memories: Photo Journal Collage Display
In the interest of creating an interactive display for customers and trying out a possible workshop activity, I created various “keepsake” layouts in an album reminiscent of a travel journal, wedding album or guestbook. I gave myself a time limit of 2 hours to create this, which is how much time I can imagine you or your staff could dedicate to such a project over a period of days. You can place an album with photos, collaged pages and other creative embellishments on display as an inspirational tool for shoppers. As a bonus, try highlighting trending fine art skills within the pages as a cross merchandising tool.
Cavallini Fine Papers (I used an old calendar!)
Various paint brushes
Step 1: Create Your Own Collage Material
While it’s nice to have collage material on hand (old calendars, magazines, Cavallini paper, ephemera, tissue paper, fabric squares), making your own color swatches, patterns and abstract spreads allows you to make each page truly your own. This step adds an element of creative intention to the project while also incorporating some mixed media approaches for more of a fine art feel. Tip: If you turn this into a workshop, have people fan out the photos and mementos they bring and write a word cloud of all the sights, smells, tastes and textures they associate with their memories. For participants who want to try something beyond abstract patterns and shapes, they can add symbols, shapes and illustrations that resonate with their memories.
Select images from the various collage materials you’d like to incorporate.Tip: Selecting big pictures = less space to fill on the page!
- Watercolor: Take one sheet of 5” x 7” Yupo and one 9” x 12” sheet of watercolor paper, create bright colorful washes with your watercolor of choice. These should be abstract for the ease of time, but you can also demonstrate layering in finished pieces of artwork or sheets from a sketchbook that deserve extra attention.
- Alcohol ink: On sheet of Yupo use no more than three colors of alcohol ink as well as a metallic of your choice to create another abstract wash. These will cure after a couple hours. Make sure to offer a piece of tissue or paper to layer between these pages so participants can glue while their creations are dry to the touch. They can bring them home to cure.
Tip: When cutting out shapes from these papers later, flip them over so you are looking at the blank side of the sheet. This not only speeds up the process, but the end result looks more organic and will be more satisfying for a novice.
Step 2: Customize Your Cover
I used POSCA and a ruler to create a dimensional design, updating the album to something a bit more eye catching.
Step 3: Lead in Page
Incorporate several techniques for this page: layering, different gluing techniques, color and texture with watercolors, decorative paper and a mini hand lettering tutorial!
Step 4: Commemorate Trips (Real or Imagined)
I recently took a trip to Georgia, and I live in Chicago, so these are some real life examples. However if you want to draw interest and inspire a customer who is thumbing through your display photo album, commemorate trips that celebrate people and places your community will respond to. Local landmarks, the history of your town, whatever you think your customers will get a kick out of!
Georgia On My Mind: a travel collage from Georgia trip with friends. Made with washi tape, two adhesives, Emott pens, POSCA Acrylic Paint Markers and gouache.
Someone In Chicago Loves You: watercolor texture paper in dimensions, washi tape, rubber cement, postcards, Cavallini paper and POSCA Glitter Acrylic Paint Markers.
Step 5: Pages for Special Events / Guest Book
I chose to commemorate an experience at a wedding. Consider creating a spread dedicated to your store’s biggest event of the year—it’s great marketing and a fun exercise for staff.
Wedding Memory: wedding invitation, washi tape, alcohol ink on Yupo, gold POSCA Acrylic Paint Markers, envelopes, multiple glues, decorative paper.
Guest Book: Traditional
Simple speaks to some of us! Show off some ways to turn the photo album into a guest book. Combine the idea with a small wedding guestbook that showcases another wedding trend of including anniversary envelopes to be filled with notes, money for a date or anything.
Goodbye Party Guest Book, Modern: The KINSHO album page features watercolor on Yupo cut into strips and rearranged on the page for a layered geode effect.
Turn this Project into a Workshop
Turning this activity into a class is a great way to engage customers and inspire people who might not otherwise feel artsy enough to try your other classes. Perhaps, you provide the art materials, students “Bring Your Own Photos” (BYOP) and with the purchase of a KINSHO photo album, the class is free! Consider getting in touch with a photo printing company, or partnering with your local FedEx or printing store and offer your customers a discount code to bring in their printed photos. This would be a great activity for Mommy & Me, or as an activity before major milestones (graduation month, the holidays). In addition to supplying scraps and various embellishments, you can give a demo on different gluing techniques and which adhesives are most effective for different materials.