coverstory ‘I’M A SCRAPBOOK JUNKIE’
Doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs all get into hobby
Addict: to habituate or abandon (oneself) to something compulsively or obsessively.
According to this Webster’s definition, I’m an addict in the worst sense of the word. My obsession and compulsion for my often secret addiction has caused me to lose sleep, arrive at work bleary eyed, force my kids to go to bed extra early many a Friday night, fight with my husband and go away alone at least once a year for three days straight to feed my addiction.
I’m a junkie but my habit isn’t something borderline sexy and stereotypical for a reporter like chain smoking or sucking down beers at the local newsroom watering hole. It’s something that makes most people’s eyes glaze over when they hear about it: colored paper, funky trimmers and the latest mini palm tree punch out. I’m addicted to scrapbooking. This January was the third in a row that I packed my largest rolling bag with photo-safe paper in about 30 shades, gathered about 1,000 pictures from last year, and stuffed a huge pouch with more than 40 of my punchouts and hauled it all to the Hickory Ridge Marriott in Lisle.
There, more than 60 women from all over the Chicago area meet the same weekend every year for one thing and one thing alone: to scrap uninterrupted from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. Yes, there are the socalled stereotypical scrapbookers — stay-at-home moms who choose not to work outside the home. But when you stop making assumptions and start asking questions you find out there are also lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, and yes, even the occasional reporter.
“Scrapbooking allows me to do something completely out of the realm of running a business,” says Dr. Avanti Kumar-Singh, executive director of Arvasi Life Spa in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. “It allows my brain to rest and eventually be much more creative at work.”
Kumar-Singh was introduced to the scrapbooking world (um, by me) in 2005 and immediately took the plunge by investing in her own tools and rolling bag. The Oak Brook resident always liked working with her hands, is creative and loves taking pictures of her two kids. Putting it all together in an album, she was able to tell a more complete family story. But she admits, first she had to shed her preconceived notions of the hobby.
“I thought it was just putting awards in a book along with a picture or ticket stubs here and there on a self-stick page,” says Kumar-Singh. “I was floored by all the interesting and different things you can do — scrapbooking just has a different definition for me now.”
What began as a simple hobby based on collecting scraps has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. In 2007 it was pegged at $2.87 billion, up 12 percent from 2004, according to the National Survey of Scrapbooking in America 2007, sponsored by CK Media, which publishes crafts magazines, including Creating Keepsakes and Simple Scrapbooks.
The recent down economy has certainly weighed on these numbers, but it’s also served as inspiration for non-traditional scrapbookers.
“People are getting back to their roots and realizing family is so important,” says Christina Van Horne, owner of Windy City Scrapbooking, 2265 N. Clybourn. She’s noticed more 20-somethings at her weekly Friday night crops.
“The younger generation wants to enjoy their quality of life and document it as well, and many are looking to make scrapbooks for their boyfriends,” she says. Van Horne counts bankers, police officers, 911 operators and doctors among her best customers.
Lisa Tutman and I made our scrapbook connection years ago on a cold, dreary morning in Gary, Ind. There had been a double homicide and all of us covering it were waiting in the parking lot of the Gary police station for an interview. At the time I was the morning reporter for CLTV news and Tutman reported for NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.
She had just submitted one of her page designs for consideration in a prestigious scrapbook contest and couldn’t stop talking about it. Our respective photographers rolled their eyes and laughed as we compared notes.
“There are loads of professional women who scrapbook, but they don’t go around talking about it,” says Tutman, who after more than 10 years with WMAQ left in 2006 and now lives in Virginia with her husband and two children. “It’s very easy to get sucked in if you have a creative slant anyway. Who needs an extra pair of scissors, but when they’re pink, how can you resist?”
Tutman, an Emmy-award-winning journalist, loves to report, but is just as proud of all the pages she’s created and had published in various scrapbooking and home decorating magazines over the years. She now blogs at www.celebrate-creativity.com about her love of all things craft, including embroidery, dollmaking, rubber stamping and, of course, scrapbooking.
Jakkie Tisa is a consultant with Creative Memories. One of the original companies to focus on scrapbooking as a business, CM is built on a direct sales model and uses consultants to promote and sell its products.
“People dismiss scrapbooking as something someone with too much time on their hands does, but some of my customers who get the most enjoyment out of it are the busiest people I know,” says Tisa.
Anupy Singla is a local free-lance writer.
Sue Ontiveros email@example.com
Top: Anupy Singla arranges the photos. Middle: A full supply of markers is ready and waiting. Below: Using the paper slicer.
Anupy Singla poses with one of her scrapbooking albums in her Chicago home. Scrapbooking is a multi-billion dollar industry.