So I've been paper-crafting for twenty years.
Twenty years! Wow.
Seems like forever.
In that time, I've done many related tasks in addition to scrapbooking--just because I might be a little obsessed. I have:
*made scrapbooks for other people
*hosted scrapbook weekends for friends
*had my pages published in national magazines
*taught scrapbooking classes in local stores and conventions
*sold scrapbook supplies for a direct sales company
*created scrapbook pages for manufacturers to display in trade show booths
*created scrapbook pages for online displays for manufacturers of scrapbooking supplies
*displayed pages in on-line galleries for fun and for pay
I have worked on a couple of design teams--for the uninitiated, a design team in the paper crafting world is a group of maker's who make projects for a product manufacturer, using specific products and demonstrating how specific products can be used in paper-crafting. Sometimes, design team members are compensated with a paycheck and sometimes (especially back in the day) they work in exchange for product.
I learned a great deal while working on each of these design teams but after much thought, and reading some other blogs that have discussed design team intricacies in-depth, I have decided that the days of design teams are over for me.
Scrap Gal Tracie Claiborne wrote about design teams here.
Here are my reasons:
1. I'm done working for product. There was a time when product boxes arriving in the mail made my day. It felt like Christmas once a month! I had a lot of space and enjoyed creating with products that perhaps I wouldn't have selected were I shopping in person for myself.
Those days are done. I've become super picky and my space is limited. As Dave Ramsey says, "cash is king".
I have worked for two teams that paid in cash.
In my experience, the teams that paid on a cash per project basis seemed more straight-forward and were more clear in their expectations and directions. Efficiency matters to me, as does communication. With one of my teams, I felt incredibly respected, was inspired by my fellow teammates and was treated well in terms of timely communication. Unfortunately, the other one--not so much.
2. I like to mix product lines and companies. I am not loyal to one company and I believe that generally the only people who are, do so because they have a financial incentive to do so.
I get a little jazzed when I accidentally discover a super collaboration between products manufactured by different companies. It makes me very happy when I see a design team member say "I just realized that our 123 product works super well with this product from XYZ company." But let me tell you, it's not a common occurrence. And that bugs me.
In my opinion, it shows a lack of actual real-world usefulness. That kind of single-minded devotion doesn't help the everyday scrapbook consumer see how product can work in her creations along-side the other product she probably already owns.
We've all seen those design team projects that are clearly design team projects. The flower company that sells seven dollar packages of flowers sends ten packs of flowers to their designer and she puts all ten packs all on one page, because she didn't have to shell out seventy dollars for all those flowers.
Normal scrapbookers don't spend seventy dollars one a scrapbook page
I've said before--most design team work can be compared to shopping from only a single aisle at the grocery store. That just doesn't work for me.
3. Social media has changed everything! Individual scrapbookers (those not working for a manufacturer or company) now have direct and immediate access to a wide world of other scrapbookers just like themselves and having a blog, a following on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest makes one an instant member of a community that embraces all design styles and all levels of skill. I think the days when a manufacturer needs a stable of designers to create on their behalf are rapidly coming to a close.
Manufacturers need a social media specialist...not a designer. OK, maybe one designer.
4. It's not about the product. Finally, my beef with most of the design team work I see is that it's primarily product driven. As much as I enjoy the shopping and treasure-hunting aspect of scrapbooking, in the end, the layouts I love the most were supported by the product, not started by them.
5. I'm selfish with my scrappy time. I don't have a ton of it and I want to spend what time I do have for scrapbooking pursuits working on that which I choose--not what someone else has assigned to me.
Because I have said "no" to design teams, I am free to work at my own pace and take on projects for others that I deeply enjoy and yet never share with anyone else or on-line.
6. Inevitably, at best, the relationship between the blogger/maker and design team is one of mutual use. You know this going in...the manufacturer is primarily looking for design team members who already have a dedicated social media following. They are looking to add your followers to their own. And as a designer, you are looking to add the manufacturer's users to your own following. Everyone is using everyone and she with the biggest following wins.
I get that this is how it works.
I just don't like it.
I don't want attaining a large following to be the driver of my bus.
Most of my favorite scrapbookers are also people who aren't seeking professional design careers. They are just ordinary scrapbooking enthusiasts like myself and I love to learn from them. Some are scrapbookers who have had the "diva dot" career as a scrapbooking expert and gave it all up in order to get back to creating from a more genuine place.
I liken design team creating to the genre of another creative industry--fashion design. Some designers create fashion for the rack that has wide appeal and will sell to the mass market in many sizes and colors. Conversely, some designers do avant garde pieces that are an exercise in creativity for creativity's sake. They are experimental. No one besides a model can even get into these pieces nor would they ever want to because while they are interesting to look at, they are difficult to wear, to function in and cost a fortune.
So now you know.