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: