Children’s Art Album: Tips for Getting Organized

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Tips for Getting Organized!

For some of you my Designer Spotlight Challenge will be a great excuse to scrap art created by your children or grandchildren. For this challenge I am scrapping art that my daughter has created over the past decade.  This post offers some tips about how I organized myself to get this album underway!

What is Art?

One of the first tasks to help get this project off the ground is to decide what you want to include as art for this album.  For my daughter’s album, I started by gathering the traditional two-dimensional paper drawings and paintings that I had saved over the years.  I had my plan all figured out – scan these, find a few photos, tell a few stories – done.

It was when I moved on to sifting through the photos from her toddler and preschool years, that I ended up with a ton of unexpected inspiration that helped to expand my plan to now include things like sidewalk chalk drawings and three-dimensional creations made of Lego, play dough, sand and snow.  While I didn’t include these in my album, photos of dance, music and any type of performance art could also be amazing inclusions in an art album.

Where to find the Art?

To make up for the busy years when the collection of my daughter’s art ran a little thin, a little creative hunting outside-the-paint-palate paid off in a very big way!

Photo Albums/Hard Drive – You will be utterly astonished at the vast number of times you’ve captured your little Picasso or Rodin working on a masterpiece, even if that masterpiece has long left your home (and memory).  Lego robots, chalk drawings, crayon graffiti on bedroom walls, sand castles from a summer vacation, a family of snowmen in your yard and visits to art galleries or museums – all perfectly wonderful additions to your child’s art album!

School notebooks, assignments and projects – This was a great resource!  One single Grade 3 notebook that my daughter had used in school for journaling gave me at least 10 works of art ranging from cute fan art doodles to a full-coloured family portrait.  Most of my daughter’s self and family portraits also came from various All About Me school assignments that she seems to get almost every year.

Family – This was my biggest score by far!  When I asked my mother if she kept some of the handmade holiday cards and pictures my daughter had made as gifts for her grandparents over the years, what I received was an entire binder filled with my daughter’s art.  All the handmade cards plus drawings my daughter had made during visits and sleep-overs at my parent’s home, neatly compiled and most even dated!

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my mom’s binder

As it turns out, my mother had been diligently collecting this art over the years, motivated by an early artistic spark she saw in my daughter, the same spark she had seen in me when I was a child.  Since the few art pieces she had attempted to save from my childhood had been long-lost to time, several cross-country moves and one unfortunate minor basement flood, my mom resolved to make up for that loss with an art collection for her granddaughter that nearly tripled my own haha.  Thanks mom!!

Chronological or Thematic?

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tiny sample of my daughter’s art

Once you have gathered the art scans & photos, it’s on to deciding how you want to organize everything into a cohesive and complete album.

Putting together an art album organized chronologically by year or by a child’s age is a great approach, especially if you are working on an album for a young child.  With only a few years to work with, your memory will be fresh and the stash of saved art will likely be manageable.  Along with your child’s art, your album can be filled out with stories and photos of the artist and his/her family, painting a picture of who they are (or were) at that age.  If I had thought of doing something like this for my not-so-little-anymore kiddo years ago, the chronological approach would have been my go-to plan.

A few months ago, when I finally set out to scrap my daughter’s art in an album, I was now facing 10+ years of gathered art.  Not surprisingly, in the early years, my energetic new-mom self saved all kinds of meticulously dated scribbles, while my later now-busier-mom-of-two self was more selective and less organized with what I kept. This lead to gaps in the collection during some years.  Taking a chronological approach with this project would not only have really challenged my memory resources, it would have also continuously fed that pointless, but nonetheless project-stalling woulda-coulda-shoulda regret.

To resolve this, I decided to group my daughter’s art by themes and categories. By doing this I was able to dive into that art pile with a plan to look for pieces of art that had something in common, regardless of the year it was made.  Once I moved on to scrapping the art, I was able to journal about the thematic group as a whole rather than trying to remember the details surrounding the individual pieces.

These were the most common themes I found in my daughter’s art:

  • Self Portraits
  • Family & Home
  • Seasons & Holidays
  • Animals & Pets
  • Fan Art – favourite characters from TV shows, movies, music, books
  • Travel & Vacation

I also grouped some art/photos together by style or materials:

  • Bold & Colourful, Minimalist, Mixed Media
  • Sculpture & 3D – snowmen, sand castles, Lego, blocks
  • Photography – photos taken by my daughter
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some of the layouts I have completed!

I am now more than 3/4 of the way through scrapping my daughter’s art album, and I can say with complete confidence that I picked the right approach for both this album and for me!  I absolutely adore seeing the sweet little crayon doodles my daughter made as a two-year old right next to the sophisticated illustrations she created as a 10-year-old using a computer based illustration program.

Next up in this blog series – layouts to get you inspired! 🙂

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