When I started my first pocket-page album more than three years ago, I had no clear vision or style. I just wanted to do memory-keeping because I wanted all my fleeting memories documented in paper. So, I got all the materials and just started working on layouts. Printed some photos, picked up some paper and started putting things together. And it was magical.
But over the years (actually, over the first few months), I noticed that my memory-keeping style has been changing a lot.
I started out being completely excited (and hella overwhelmed) about having all the embellishments and trying all the techniques so I used as much as I can in a single layout. But somewhere along the line, it started to look a bit cleaner and I noticed that I wanted the photos or the journaling or the ephemera to take the spotlight.
At that point, I knew that I was inching closer and closer to my own personal memory-keeping style. And you know what?
I want to help you find yours.
My first few layouts were filled to the brim with embellishments with teeny-tiny square photos. Now, my layouts have more white space and tend to be on the minimalist side.
Like me, not everyone knows their own personal memory-keeping style when they’re starting out and that’s okay. It took me months, even years, to discover a style that I can consistently create and love looking back at.
Case in point: I started making my Japan 2014 travel album around December 2014 but somehow, I didn’t finish that album then and I picked it up again around the end of 2015 / beginning of 2016 and I literally couldn’t find it in me to create layouts similar to the way I did before so I re-did the entire album.
To be honest, it was a pain to re-do the album. All the wasted photos, wasted materials, wasted effort and wasted time was enough for me to realize that while letting your memory-keeping style come naturally to you is okay, it’s much better to try and proactively identify it from the get go.
As I said, it took me over a year to discover my own style. I didn’t want you to spend over a year just looking for your own memory-keeping style so I created a fun Memory-keeping Style Audit Quiz just for you! Let me help you find your own style in 10 quick minutes ;)
Why you need to discover your memory-keeping style
One of the biggest pros in knowing your memory-keeping style is being consistent throughout all your albums. Consistency in memory-keeping isn’t about doing things in the same way and same format year after year. Consistency means that throughout all your albums, there are key elements that tie things together that despite the uniqueness of each album (or each layout), you know that it all belongs into one group - yours.
Another immediate effect of knowing your own memory-keeping style is knowing what you need to achieve that style. When I started out, I bought so many different things - embellishment, tools, and all the things - and subscribed to many different kit clubs. Each month, I would spend money on memory-keeping tools and materials but guess what, I didn’t even get to use half of it. With a memory-keeping style, you start to know what will work and what wouldn’t so you don’t have to buy things that won’t fit. Less money spent, less hoarding, less waste.
Last but definitely not the least, having your own memory-keeping style enables you create layouts quickly and efficiently. I probably sound like a broken record here but knowing what styles you prefer enables you to create layouts quickly and efficiently. It ties back to the concept of having a memory-keeping process or routine. If you prefer having only full-pocket photos, you can go ahead and print your photos in bulk that way.
Quick commercial break // This has been in the works for about a year and a half already... I'm launching an e-course on analog travel memory-keeping! I am PASSIONATE about introducing a better way to relive your travel experiences (yes, I am throwin' some slight shade on social media...), a way where you can TANGIBLY flip through the stories of your past adventures.
This course - Craft Your Travel Story - isn't launching until May 2017 BUT I want to help you get started with travel memory-keeping while you wait excitedly ;) This is why I created this FREE comprehensive five-day e-mail course, The Travel-keeper Bootcamp!
In this bootcamp, I will be sharing very practical + actionable tips, intentional systems and methods to help you document the details your travel experiences, take photos that accurately tell your stories, and gather ephemera as your "hard evidence." This bootcamp will prepare you a lot when it comes to finally creating your analog travel album.
You can join this bootcamp - did I mention that it's completely free? - by clicking here and signing up on that page or just leaving your name + e-mail below:
Three methods that you can try now to discover your memory-keeping style
Identify your style by curating a mood board
You’ve probably heard about mood boards, seen one or even made one yourself. A mood board is, at it’s core, a compilation of curated images and words that altogether represent a certain theme, style or feel. You might be wondering: “but how do I create a mood board if I don’t know my +memory-keeping style?”
My answer to you is to let your habits, tendencies and subconscious take over.
The way I recommend that you do this is to create a Pinterest board and spend about five minutes every day for a week just pinning photos that you are drawn to. By curating photos for your moodboard, you’ll slowly be able to identify themes that you’re most drawn into or colors that stand out to your eyes.
Once you have your mood board, use the elements that you see into your layouts. Experiment with the colors, the patterns, the fonts and the vibe that you see in your mood board.
I created the layout below from the mood board above. I was inspired by the typography in the mood board so I created the "Shirohige" card with the Laina stamp set from Studio Calico. The two strips that I stuck onto the 4x6" photo was also inspired by the upper left magazine layout in the mood board. The colors are also a variation from what I included in the moodboard.
Action for you: Create a new board on Pinterest and pin at least 15-20 images of themes, colors, elements and layouts that draw you in. Then, create a layout that uses elements from the moodboard.
Find your style by replicating memory-keepers’ layouts
Austin Kleon said this in his book Steal Like An Artist* (read it!)
“In the beginning, learn by pretending to be your heroes.”
I couldn’t agree more. We all need to start somewhere and there’s no better place to begin than in your heroes’ works. Who are the memory-keepers that you follow on Instagram? Whose blogs do you check out often? Whose layouts are you constantly pinning? Embrace their influence.
I started out by scraplifting (basically copying) the layouts from creative galleries such as Studio Calico. My earlier layouts were heavily inspired by other memory-keepers. I switched things up a bit here and there and eventually, my style started to evolve into what it is now. The point is that we all start from somewhere.
This is a layout from Ali Edwards that I found while browsing her blog. I really liked how it looked so I tried to do my version of it below. I replicated the key elements (strip of pattern paper + white number stickers) and added my own spin to it by using photos.
Learn from their layouts and try replicating it for practice. Do this again and again and throughout the process, you’ll get a feel for what’s natural to you. After imitating, you can start to emulate and make it your own. Challenging yourself in new ways is a great way to discover your own style.
Action for you: Pick one layout from one of your favorite memory-keepers are replicate that layout.
Use sketches to spark inspiration
One of my favorite ways to explore and improve my style is to use sketches as jumping off points. Similar to an artist’s draft, a sketch is the bare bones of a layout. A skeletal version of the layout that allows the memory-keeper to see how the elements are placed and positioned within the blank canvas.
When I was new to the memory-keeping scene, I actively sought out inspiration and guidelines on how to build my first few layouts. I was so scared of gluing my very precious patterned paper and embellishments because I wasn’t sure if it’ll turn out okay. I know that there’s merit to letting go and allowing myself to explore my own styles BUT I wanted to make the most out of the limited supplies that I had. I wanted a “formula” that will allow me to enjoy the output of this new hobby that I was trying out.
For example, the I created the sketch below and attempted to use it as a guideline for my layout:
Rather than seeing the finished product – other memory-keeper’s layout – sketches allow me to see the thought process behind the product. By following a sketch, I knew that the layouts I was making were fundamentally good and balanced. Like magic!
You can find sketches in memory-keeping blogs such as Studio Calico’s Sunday Sketch blogposts or you can use the sketch that I showed in this blogpost as a starting point.
Action for you: Find a sketch that you like and create a layout using that sketch as a guideline.
These three methods helped me discover my own style but I can’t stress this enough: you do NOT have to stress about this. Don’t use this as an excuse to stop creating.
After all, continuous creation is necessary for discovering your memory-keeping style.
Use your hands.
You might’ve noticed that all the action steps that I laid out for you involves creating a layout ;) The last thing that I want you be is paralyzed and overwhelmed so take baby steps and let your style evolve from within you. And that can only happen when you’re actually making things.
So, in a nutshell, here’s what you need to do: take the Memory-keeping Style Audit Quiz below and use the results as a jumping off point. Then, use any (or all) of the three methods to further improve and uncover your own memory-keeping flavor.
No one is born with great style or born with a distinct voice. As we create, we uncover pieces of our own style. The key is to keep creating, keep making, keep documenting your memories.
Do you have a memory-keeping style? Let me know in the comments!