Guest Designer: Jill Sprott

What I love about this week's guest designer, Jill Sprott, is that she is able to tell her story with her elements, paper, and photographs. She doesn't just make beautiful pages, she also uses each element on her page to enhance her story. Her work moves me to make mine be more than just "some product on a page". I know you will feel the same...

I live on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, with my husband Rob and my daughter Zoe. I started scrapbooking over seven years ago out of curiosity, and although it took me a long time to shake off the fear of “messing up,” I kept at it, and I’m glad I did.

How would you describe your scrapbooking style?

My pages tend to be thematic -- there’s always a message or a central emotion that I am trying to capture. I don’t really plan my pages in some kind of scholarly fashion, designing them to have some kind of symbolic resonance, but they usually end up working out that way. Maybe as an English teacher, I’m just programmed to think in layers of meaning. To that end, I find that I can’t just grab a product and use it -- there needs to be a purpose for it, a reason for including it on that particular page. I suppose my style can best be described as a form of convergence, pulling together “telling” bits and pieces until they click for me, until they all say what I want them to say.

What inspires you to be creative?

E.E. Cummings was right: “Feeling is first”. My creativity is definitely emotionally driven, and my family is the wellspring for much of that emotion. I’m also inspired by time, if that makes sense. The ticking clock pushes me to create in order to provide “a way of remembering that which it would impoverish us to forget,” as Robert Frost once claimed about poetry, and which I think perfectly captures what scrapbooking can do for us as well. When I really need a creative spark, new products usually do the trick. Reading blogs and exploring online galleries can always reignite the mojo, too. My photos can also trigger emotions and ideas, and I just kind of riff off those feelings as I rummage through my stash, trying to pull items together.

Who are your favorite scrapbook designers and why?

So many of my favorite scrapbookers have had a formative influence on me, and all of them continue to surprise, delight, and challenge me creatively. I most admire those designers who transform product to work for them, who create a palpable and unique emotional feel on each of their pages, and who regard their words as a crucial element of scrapbooking. These are the designers who set aflutter scrappy little butterflies in me whenever I see their work:

Sasha Farina -- Sasha’s pages are beautifully composed and gloriously vibrant. Not a page of hers goes by that does not elicit a “WOW” from my stunned mouth.

Stephanie Howell -- I think of Stephanie as a “soul scrapper.” She removes the pretense filter and just lays out her truest, rawest thoughts on the page. She also somehow manages to take even the newest products and render a vintage feel from them.

Caroline Ikeji -- I proclaim Caroline the Queen of Color-Pop. She has such a knack for combining patterns and colors in ways that make her already-stunning photos shine.

Lisa McGarvey -- I discovered Lisa during my first year of scrapbooking. There’s something so consistent in her style, yet each one of her pages holds something of the unexpected, too. She has an amazing talent for pulling together multiple photos and a variety of accents and papers, and creating something unified and quirky.

Doris Sander -- Doris’s pages make a sound that goes “click.” Every charming detail falls perfectly into place, accented by her beautiful, flowing hand.

Dina Wakley and Julie Fei-Fan Balzer -- There’s been a longtime debate over whether scrapbookers can/should call what they do “art.” One look at Dina’s and Julie’s pages, and the debate is resolved for me as far as they’re concerned -- ART. ART. ART.
What are your favorite color combinations to design with right now?

I have somewhat of an obsession with green and blue (and not just on my pages, but in my closet, too). Along with kraft and cream, these “baseline” colors seem to show up on almost every single one of my pages. I love their natural, fresh, and comfortable feel. Lately, though, I’ve been finding myself adding more red, pink, and yellow to my pages; still, green and blue always seem to find their way into the mix somehow.

What is your creative process?

It’s a sense of play that ignites and motivates my creative process. I can’t create with an “I-have-to-do-this” attitude; instead, I approach each page with an “I wonder what might happen if...” attitude. Even if I’m working from a sketch, I can’t follow it like a map; I tend to use the ideas that I jot down on paper as a springboard, and then I end up going my own way. There really is no set plan; it’s a “choose your own adventure” kind of plot that I follow, and this allows me to take risks and to be forgiving along the way.

What is your story that you are trying to tell? How can this inspire others?

My story doesn’t really follow a linear plotline. My story, as it is depicted in my scrapbooks, is usually in medias res (“in the middle of things”) or in flashback mode. I suppose my pages are mementos rather than chapters, fragments rather than a unified whole -- and I’m okay with that. Life is episodic. There’s no need to scrap every photo or spend every free moment with a page-in-progress in front of you; the carpe diem approach better serves us all during the memory-making process than it does the memory-preserving process. Someday, I want to look back on my pages as a love story, not an I-wish-I-had-loved-more story.

How can you inspire others to "create well"?

To “create well” is to “live well.” It means using the gifts you have, building on your strengths, and being the author of your own story -- not striving to be someone else or to directly emulate someone else’s style. Although the vast majority of scrapbookers create our pages in isolation, when we share those pages with others or connect with others’ work, we are participating in a kind of creative exchange of ideas. Within this community, to “create well” involves putting work out there that represents your voice. That voice may be -- and will inevitably be -- influenced by other voices, but it is still essentially yours. It’s in losing yourself in your own process that you will eventually find yourself.

You can find Jill at her blog, Use Your Words where you can find more inspiring layouts. Jill also designs for Collage Press, Lily Bee, and Scrapping Bella.

Create Well: Use the gifts you have, build on your strengths, and be the author of your own story.


  1. you're just as awesome Jill. *hugs* and thank you.

  2. wow, another fabulous designer!

  3. I just love Jill's work (not to mention the eloquent ways she writes)! This was a perfect start to my day!


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