Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Let's Talk About... Project Life

Project Life seems to be the hot trend at the moment - but sadly, it's not a trend I think I would be able to keep up with.

Becky Higgins 'Project Life' Logo

For those of you who aren't aware of this brand, Project Life is a new way of scrapbooking that moves away from the traditional 12 x 12 albums, and takes the freedom of a Smashbook even further by utilising a ring binder and plastic pocket system. The initial idea is that you create a weekly spread for each week of the year using different inserts, cards and embellishments. Of course, there are many who use the system differently and do, for instance, monthly spreads, or spreads that are just for important events, but the reason for it's invention was to provide a quick and easy way of documenting your life. Creator Becky Higgins launched Project Life in 2009 as an alternative to the often time consuming world of scrapbook layouts and fiddly paper projects. A Project Life binder can be as simple or as complicated as you want - if you want to just grab your core kit and stick photos onto the pages, and add a little writing, then you can. But if you want to embellish and expand your creativity, there's room for that too, with innovative ways of using the pockets such as shaker cards and sticking die cuts onto the pocket itself. Essentially it is what you make of it!

From Becky's webpage, we can see the 'mission statement' of Project Life -
At the core of it all, we recognize that scrapbooking is about so much more than fun designs and cool products. Our philosophy is this: Cultivate a good life and record it. We believe that every day is worth giving your best effort, and life is worth recording. The good times, the seemingly mundane moments, and even sometimes the tough experiences. All of this make up who we are and what we are about, and that is worth documenting and sharing. - (
Whilst this is something I wholeheartedly agree with, it is equally my biggest issue with Project Life. No matter how I tart it up, my life is just not that interesting. If I took on Project Life tomorrow and did a weekly double page spread, 90% of the photos would be my parents cats. That's fine if they're your own cats, but when they don't even belong to you, devoting 52 double page spreads and a lot of money to a papercraft shrine is a bit much and bordering on the lines of 'crazy cat lady who needs a nice rest in a padded room'. My life is work - gym - TV - sleep. I may occasionally go and see friends, but if I do I rarely take photos. A lot of people who do Project Life seem to be mothers with young children. It's obvious why; the system is great if you have very little time and the risk of sticky, grabby hands trying to eat your wood veneers. It's also a great way to document those firsts that happen a lot more in life when you're under the age of say, 13. I've seen some amazingly colourful and interesting spreads from families which will be truly cherished in years to come. But alas, I am single, childless and do very unremarkable things on a daily basis. My tough experiences involve a weepy rom-com and a pint of Ben and Jerries, and my mundane moments normally pass me by on a treadmill.

A secondary issue that I have with Project Life is that it hinges around the idea that you *must* buy the kits that relate to it in order to create with it. This obviously ties in with the ease of use element, as you could fiddle around and cut your own 3 x 4 and 6 x 4 card stock if you so wished, but the whole point is you print your photos, grab them and your supplies (your core kit, album and pockets) and get to it. This to me limits the freedom and creativity that you can bring into a Project Life album and almost gives a lot of the examples I've seen a 'cookie cutter' feel. I do actually own a kit - the Spring collection, which I got from Hobbycraft for £5 - but I don't use it in the traditional manner. If you've watched my Smashbook videos, you'll see that I often use the cards as a backing paper or journalling space. The cards that I have work really nicely for this but I can imagine that not all of the kits would do so. Another thing with the kits that I know I would definitely feel is that I would want more of some cards, and less of others - but you don't get the control over that, which you do if you're buying individual paper sheets and to an extent, a paper pack. Now you do not have to buy these kits just from Becky Higgins as places like Studio Calico and We R Memory Keepers do their own version, but it feels a little to me like collecting more equipment than is needed to really get the job done.

It is worth noting that there is of course the Project Life Web version, which doesn't involve a physical scrapbook but allows you to scrap your photos online into layouts and have them sent to you in the post. Personally I think this seems like a lot of effort when I could just grab my smashbook and do it myself but perhaps that comes back again to the reality that again I wouldn't have much to put in it.

To sum up, as far as I see it the pros of Project Life are as follows:

  • The ability to very quickly generate a layout for a week, with as much involvement as you want/can allow
  • The wide variety of different kits, layouts and embellishments that can be used to create your own unique album
  • Wide support from other brands that work in line with the Becky Higgins brand
  • Useful to document things that you may not feel are 'worthy' of a full page in a Smashbook or scrapbook spread.

And the cons:

  • If you don't lead a particularly exciting life, or one within a family unit, there will often be very little you can put down for that week
  • Some ephemera will simply not fit in the pockets and so salient bits of information could be left out (guidebooks, maps, outsized tickets)
  • Can be expensive compared to other options
  • Layouts can sometimes feel confined to the parameters set by the pockets and if the same card collection is used, can look very similar week after week
At this time in my life I must conclude that Project Life is not a system that will work for me. But who knows - I may be converted yet! It's not going to stop me spending a long time on YouTube watching lots of lovely PL process videos :p

For more information on Project Life go to Becky Higgins website -

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