NOTE: If I've overlooked a shop or other site that you think should be included, please leave me note in comments and I will pay a visit. It's very likely, given my long absence from the digital community, that I have missed something.]
For another project, I spent some time looking at several digital scrapbooking shops, and thought some of my observations might be useful, especially for folks new to digital art journaling or collage, and looking for images to work with.
My comments are very brief, but should serve as an introduction, at least. This post is focused only on shops that provide at least some digital art, art journal, altered art, mixed-media or collage-specific products and activities. There are many more shops that serve the digital scrapbooking world.
Also, check out this post on Digital Art Journaling Resources at The Daily Digi.
First, some context:
What's the difference between scrapbooking and art journaling or collage?
Briefly, scrapbooking usually includes photos, and is often about people and events other than the scrapbooker (though there is much effort to encourage scrapbookers to scrap more about themselves.) Art journaling and collage may or may not include photos, and is about self-expression. Self-expression and/or art and design; art journalers and collage artists do a wide range of work on this continuum.
Is there overlap between the two?
Absolutely. It's entirely possible to use scrapbooking elements on a collage or art journal page, or art journal/ collage elements on a scrapbook page. Especially with art journaling, anything goes; you may use whatever you like, however you like.
What are forums, challenges, and galleries, and why should I care?
Forums: Most digital shops have an online forum where digital designers and customers interact. Most have a few sections devoted to the shop and its products and designers; tips and tutorials; challenges and contests; and general conversation. Some forums are slow, some are very active. Forum participation is not required to be a customer, or to post to the gallery, but if you are a social person, or even just looking for more information about the hobby, a forum can be a fun place to be.
Also, this world, nearly entirely female, is a happy, optimistic, supportive one. If you need some relief from the general crankiness of other online places, this will provide it. On the other hand, you may sometimes feel overdosed on sweetness and flee back to the darker corners of the internet.
[14 September 02016, edited to add: I think this has changed a bit, possibly due to more interest in digital art, art journaling and collage. I see more kits devoted to the struggles of life, and more conversation about that. I think this is a good, whole-some thing.]
Challenges: Most shops offer challenges to inspire their customers to actually use, not just collect, their products. Some challenges are very specific and require the use of shop products; some are more open-ended. Some offer freebies to challenge participants. I find challenges very helpful in giving me inspiration and new ideas for pages.
Galleries: Most shops provide an online gallery where customers can post their pages, and where designers' creative teams can show off what can be done with a particular kit. Most customers don't post their pages, and I didn't think I would when I began. But I do now. It's very rewarding to get and give encouraging comments, and it's inspiring to see what other folks are doing.
NOTE: The existence of an art journaling category in a gallery matters because it makes it so much easier for us to find each other's work. Also, some scrapbookers are quite hostile to art journaling, and consider it an infringement of sorts on their hobby. They are annoyed to stumble over art journal pages in a scrapbooking gallery. This is a long-standing discussion which I will not attempt to resolve here.
[14 September 02016, edited to add: I think this has settled down somewhat in the last couple of years. In fact, I'm seeing some significant overlap, as traditional scrapbookers give more "artsy" approaches a try.]
Every shop has different forum and gallery guidelines regarding products, credits, and linking; be sure to find and read those before jumping in. Many shops require that any page posted to their gallery contain a certain percentage of that shop's product. An "open" gallery means that it's ok to post pages with products from other shops, but within the the guidelines specific to the gallery; some allow links to outside shops and designers, others do not.
And now the shops, in alphabetical order:
Designer Digitals This shop has been around for a very long time (I think) but has diminished quite a bit in size. There are few designers, but tons of products. The shop does not have an art journal category; nonetheless, it has a good selection of choices that suit. Lots of brushes, stamps, and "blendables" that work well for art journaling. The forum offers several monthly challenges, some with (very nice) freebies, including an art journal challenge, and there are specific galleries for each challenge.
Gallery rules: "We DO allow layouts with other designer's products as long as the page use some DesignerDigitals products somewhere in the layout! Please be sure to credit other designers but Do NOT include links to outside domains."
Digital Scrapbooking Studio I think this is a relatively new shop, and is set up a bit differently from most others. It's a short learning curve, though, and I rather like the design. It highlights art journaling in both the shop and the gallery, and has several designers who specialize in creating kits for this market; most notably Jen Maddocks, who offers a monthly, marvelous challenge with several great freebies. It seems to me that designers associated with this shop are particularly generous with freebies, which matters to someone with a limited budget.
Gallery rules: Open gallery. You may post any layout or project giving proper credit (generally by name) where needed. However absolutely no linking outside of the The Studio is allowed.
e-scapeandscrap This shop has Altered Art, Art Journaling, and Artistic Use categories with a good selection of products, but no forum or gallery. Instead of a gallery, they have a flickr stream for their creative team only, as inspiration for use of e-scapeandscrap products (which I will point you to as soon as I find it). This shop is worth a look. I have purchased from here and not been disappointed. The designers also offer lots of freebies through the shop blog and their own blogs.
Gallery: E-scape and Scrap Inspired @ flickr. "It is open to the public for viewing but we only allow our CT and designers to post there since we use it to show off products from our store."
GoDigitalScrapbooking There is a scant art journaling section in the shop. Tons of challenges, but none that appear to relate to either art journaling or collage. I'm including this shop only because I know that some past and current GDS designers have been interested in art journaling.
Gallery rules: Open gallery. Only the product and designer can be mentioned for credit for non-GDS products used. If you used GDS products, we encourage and ask that you post the GDS store link to the product in the credits for your page. No outside linking whatsoever.
Jessica Sprague / SnapClick Supply Jessica Sprague is known for her digital skills classes, several of which I have taken and enjoyed. Her site now deals only with classes, and the shop, which offers work from several designers, has become SnapClick Supply. The shop offers a few art journal products. No forum or gallery that I can find.
Mischief Circus (formerly Deviant Scrap) There is an Art Journaling category in the shop, but then, nearly everything here is usable for digital art, art journaling and/or collage. There are also categories for Art Dolls and ATC's (Artist Trading Cards.) Art journaling threads & challenges in the forum have mostly been abandoned, though there are two or three other challenges each month. There is an art journaling category in the gallery, also mostly abandoned. This shop has lost several designers over the past few years, to retirement or moves to other venues, but there is still much worth looking at, and much that's unique, especially for digital art and collage projects.
Gallery rules: ALL layouts must contain at least 75% Mischief Circus product. No outside linking or advertising.
Oscraps This shop now has an extensive category for Altered Art/Collage/Art Journaling, and several designers who cater to these markets. Lots of choice here! The forum offers several monthly challenges, usually including at least one related to art, art journaling or ATC's; and monthly designer challenges that also generally will appeal to art journalers or collage artists. They appeal to me. The gallery has categories for these challenges, though no specific art journal category.
Gallery rules: All layouts must contain at least 1 Oscraps product. No outside linking.
Plain Digital Wrapper I'm not familiar with most of the designers here, and the shop, I think, caters more to traditional scrapbookers. There are categories for altered art and art journaling, with about 15 products in each. The forum has challenges, but none for art journaling.
Gallery rules: Open gallery. You can post any layout from any designer in our gallery. What we don't permit is blatant [Creative Team] advertising … or links to outside sites. You can list the store name if it is from another store, but may not link it.
Scrapbookgraphics Once the queen of art journal sites as the home of the Art Journal Caravan, which has moved on, it's still well in the game. Several SBG designers do at least some work that is usable for art journalers and collage artists, and some specialize in this market. There is still an extensive Art Journal & Collage section in the shop. The forum offers several monthly challenges, including an Artsy Challenge and Courtney's Artsy Template Challenge. The gallery does not have a specific art journal category, but does offer categories for each challenge.
Gallery rules: Layouts must include at least some SBG product. Creative Team layouts for off-site designers are prohibited. No outside linking.
[Personal note: Oh how I miss Sissy Sparrows & their monthly Painted Nest art journal challenges!]
Sweet Shoppe This is a shop I rarely patronize, as it focuses on the traditional scrapbooking market, but during my absence Captivated Visions moved over there. This contributes to my confusion. There is an art journal category in the shop, but there is little in it, and nothing there from Captivated Visions, whose work is very useful for art journaling. In my original review of this shop I wrote: "I confess that I've never figured out the challenges here." Now they have a new system, Challenge Bingo, which I suppose would allow for art journaling or collage as a style. No related categories in the gallery.
Gallery rules: Layouts must include some Sweet Shoppe product. No outside linking.
Tangie Baxter & Co. The Queen of art journaling has established her own shop, along with her mother, Rebecca McMeen, the Queen of art dolls. After a brief hiatus, the Art Journal Caravan re-emerged as the Art Journal Emporium (which I joined soon after returning to the online world, thanks to a generous friend.) Tangie was my first mentor in what then seemed, for a word person, a most odd and intimidating world of images. As always, Tangie offers a vast supply of downloads for art journaling, collage, planners, cards, and pockets, as well as several online (and in real life) workshops and tutorials. She also offers a free guide for those new to art journaling. Tangie's spot still feels like home to me. Tangie plans a cross-country adventure next year, offering workshops along the way, so keep your eyes posted.
UPDATE 01 October 02016: Due to the above mentioned cross-country adventure, Rebecca has moved her shop to The Lilypad, exclusively. Tangie now has a shop there as well, but also plans to keep her Tangie Baxter & Co. shop open, and the Art Journal Emporium will stay there, at least for the time being.
the digichick Last time, I didn't review this shop, though I think it was there. It does now have an Art Journal category in the shop, and a few designers who work for that market. There are many challenges each month, some offered by those designers, and an Art Journaling category in the gallery.
Gallery rules: We have an "OPEN" gallery, meaning that we allow you to upload items made with any products. You may include links to the products, but no outright advertising, and no freebies or products.
The Digital Press I'm not familiar with this shop, so this is a very brief overview. There's a long list of designers, some of whom I am familiar with, so I'm guessing I missed this shop because it's fairly new? There is an art journaling category in the shop with about 60 products. The forum has challenges in a "Crossword Section", but nothing for art journaling or collage that I saw. No art journal category in the gallery.
Gallery rules: No outside linking. Layouts uploaded to The Digital Press Gallery must contain at least 50% TDP Products; templates count as 25%. Please list credits in your description!
Before the next review, A DISCLAIMER: I am currently on a creative team at The Lilypad, for their Monthly Mixed Media (3M) kits. Before I was invited to join the team, I was a subscriber to these kits (thanks to another generous friend), $7/month to get the $14 full kit and add-ons at a discount. The kits are a collaboration by several designers, tailor-made for art journaling or collage. I like mixing sources and designers on my pages, so this is perfect for me.
The Lily Pad Things have changed here! There is now an Art Journal + Mixed Media category in the shop, plus the monthly mixed media kits mentioned above, and several designers cater to this market. There are forums for both art journaling and subscribers to the 3M kits. Both offer monthly challenges, and good ones, too. (The art journal forum is currently on hiatus due to a special event: Summer School.) The art journaling forum is more active than most I've come across, with lots of sharing of tips and techniques and work in progress. There are other monthly challenges, and designer challenges, several of which are inclusive of art journaling and/or collage. The gallery has categories for art journaling and mixed media, as well as for each of the monthly challenges.
Gallery rules: Layouts must contain at least 50% TLP products. (Templates count as 15%.) Uploads must be less than 250k. List all credits; no off-site linking allowed.
NOT A SHOP:
JustArt: digital art & scrapbooking I think this is quite a new site, with a different point of view. It has drawn some recognizable designers (to me) to participate in the several (not just one) challenges offered each month. It's a very active forum and gallery, both welcoming to non-traditional styles. In addition to member and challenge galleries, there is one gallery category: Art Journaling & Digital Art.
Robyn, the Not so grand, Grand Pooh-Bah, says: "I aim to provide an environment where you can feel comfortable to share your work and techniques with others. We have all different levels of expertise within our group, and beginners as well as more experienced members, are most welcome to join us! Our monthly challenge will challenge members to create a page with either a given theme or technique. To help get you motivated and thank you for your participation, freebies are often provided. I encourage you to create pages of pure art, or if you prefer, the more traditional scrapbooking............perhaps a mixture of both . . . "
Gallery rules: After uploading a page you are required to comment on at least 2 other pages (per page you upload.) Our gallery is an open gallery. You may use products from any designer (retired or not) and from any store. You may also include links. There is a limit of 5 uploads per day. Maximum upload is 600 x 600 and a file size of no more than 250 kb. Please be aware the gallery is for the use of ACTIVE FORUM MEMBERS ONLY. Creative Team layouts are prohibited unless you are an active forum member.
[This is one of a series of posts on resources for digital art journalers and collage artists that I did some years ago. Things changed during my two-year absence. Most notably, there are far fewer shops to look at, and many designers have retired or moved. I will be updating more of these posts over the next few weeks.]
FINALLY: You really read this far?
Graphics made with Spell With Flickr