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Blogiversary Archive Pick: The Way I Do Project Life

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project LifeToday I asked Michelle LaPoint Rydell to share a favorite post from the past.  Here's what she said:

I first discovered Julie's blog back in late 2007, when I was just getting involved in the world of mixed media.  Her art was so inspiring, and she had tons of helpful tutorials that made it all seem possible for me too! Now, almost ten years later, I still look forward to her posts.  Her writing style is fun to read, and she is so generous with her knowledge, that it keeps me coming back for more.  I love that she lets us in on her world as she tries new tools and ideas, and continuously evolves as an artist.  I am a forever fan!

There are so many of your blogposts that stand out in my mind, that it was hard to pick a favorite!  Ha!  But one in particular that was super inspiring to me was called "The Way I Do Project Life."   I was trying to work out how I wanted to do Project Life at the time; and when I saw yours something clicked. I loved the tips you gave about doing your pages one pocket at a time, with no color scheme in mind; about journaling right on the photos; and trying to represent each day in some way.  I loved the way you're spreads looked - more mixed media than most I'd been seeing.  Your pages definitely have your unique style! That blogpost helped me think about Project Life in a new way. A way that allowed me to incorporate my own style into my spreads.  Thank you for that!

And so now, here is that post from September 10, 2012:

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
I'm nine months into this monster project called Project Life and just started my third binder.  I love it and it's a burden.  Both are 100% true statements.  So, let's talk about that.

I love it.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
A few reasons:

  • I can't remember the last time I flipped through an old art journal or scrapbook album.  I regularly flip through my Project Life album, letting the memories flood through me.
  • I finally have a home for all the "memory pack rat" things I want to keep: receipts, programs, tickets, etc.
  • It's fun to put together the tiny little collages that go into each of the pockets.
  • I take more photos than ever of daily life.
  • I've loved designing little cards to fit into my album.  It has opened my design brain up and that's awesome!
  • I really think that if I stop scrapbooking, this will be the reason.  It fulfills all of my memory keeping needs. 

It's a burden.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
One reason: It's a relentless project that you must keep up with because falling behind is simply not an option.  So whether I want to or not, I must take the time to do it every single week.  Because the thing Project Life has going for it is continuity and consistency.

My process.

I'm sure that everyone approaches this project totally uniquely.  I thought I'd share a bit about the process I've developed.

My week runs Monday - Sunday.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
After so many years in the theatre, I can't imagine ending the week on any day other than Sunday.  (In the theatre world, Monday is the "dark night" or your one night off.  The week always ends on Sunday.)  I try to do Project Life on Mondays.  Although sometimes it drifts later into the week.

I sketch it out.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
When I first started Project Life I thought people were crazy who sketched out the layout.  Now I get it.  It really makes the whole process so much faster.  I grab a scrap piece of paper and start scrolling through my photos for the week.  Then I make notes about which photos will go where.  This helps me determine what size to print my photos.

I use my photos as my canvas.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
One thing that I do is to print the majority of my photos to fill the pocket in the divided page protector.  Generally speaking I like to use my photo as the canvas for journaling, the date, embellishment, etc.  I will print some photos smaller than the canvas, but that's usally because they're square insted of rectangle or horizontal instead of vertical or vice versa.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
Very occasionally I will print a photo (as above) in parts, so that it fills several pockets.  When I do that it usually means (a) it was a slow week or (b) I have a spectacular photo.

My favorite way to journal is directly onto my photos.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
I love the way it looks.  I love how easy it is.  Sometimes I'll put photos or labels through my typewriter.  Even less often I'll do the journaling on my computer.  Handwriting, however, is my favorite. 

I print on demand.

I print at home on the best photo printer in the world: the Epson PictureMate.  I have had the same Epson PictureMate for at least four or five years and I cannot say enough good things about it.  (This is the model I have and this is the version currently on the market.)  The photo quality is awesome!  

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
After I've sketched out my photo layout, I import the photos I've chosen into Photoshop, edit them, and print them out.  For photos under 4x6, I try to place as many photos as possible onto a 4x6 canvas in Photoshop before printing (as seen above).

Sometimes I go hybrid.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
"Hybrid" is mixing digital with paper.  Sometimes when I'm in Photoshop, editing my photos for printing, I'll add some text or a number or a background digitally (or more) and then print the whole thing (the food photos, background, banners & journaling near the top of the image above).  There isn't really any rhyme or reason to when or why.  I mostly go for digi out of laziness.  That said, I have found that when traveling, digi is a lifesaver.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
Everything you see in the image above was done digitally.  When I got home, I simply printed each of the mini collages.  It's amazing what a drop shadow can do!

My Project Life is about me.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
I don't even try to pretend that it's about our life.  Project Life is events from my perspective and my camera...er iPhone and my life.  I know that some people feel like they are the official memory keeper for the family.  I'm the official memory keeper for me.  Perhaps I'm selfish or self-centered but that's the way that Project Life is the easiest and most enjoyable for me to do -- without obligation to my husband.  He is a big part of my life, so of course he shows up in the album...

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
...but I don't try to tell stories from his perspective or things that happened to him while we were apart.

I build pocket-by-pocket without any regard for the other pockets.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
I do not coordinate anything in my Project Life.  I do end up using many of the same supplies due to laziness, but intentional coordination is outside of my abilities.  I prefer to see each little pocket as it's own thing and just do what feels good.

Everything gets dated.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
The one absolute consistency of my Project Life album is that every single pocket gets a date.  I have run through so many number stickers.  Especially 1s and 2s.  Stamps are my friend, at this point.  I wish someone would make a sheet of just numbers with tons and tons and tons of 1s and 2s.

I try to have every single day of the week represented.

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
I know that some folks do "week at a glance" style Project Life.  Not me.  I'm methodical.  It's important to me that every single day of the week be represented -- by a photo, some journaling, or some ephemera.  I'm not sure that I can articulate why it's so important to me.  I think I simply like the simple consistency of it.

I use a lot of 8.5x11 page protectors for "extras."

from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
from the Balzer Designs Blog: The Way I Do Project Life
Sometimes it's memorabilia, sometimes it's extra photos (first image above), sometimes I simply have much more to say or share than will fit in the little pocket pages.  If I have a lot of bulky stuff (programs, ticket stubs, wristband, etc. -- second image above) I will fill the page protector and then either tape it across the top or even staple it closed.  I don't like to stitch it closed, because then you can't pull any of the things out later.

Finally, here are my favorite Project Life supplies:

Let me know if you have any specific questions about the way I do Project Life and I'll do my best to answer them!

To read my previous posts on Project Life, please visit these links:

 Thanks for stopping by!

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