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Guest Designer - Betsy Sammarco

Betsy Sammarco's designs make you feel like you just stepped out of your farm house and into the fresh country air! She uses clean lines and bold colors, yet her art has a bit of vintage appeal. Her work is like a homecooked meal; is just makes you feel good. Betsy designs for Jenni Bowlin, Jen Martakis Designs, and she also teaches at Scrapbook Challenges.


 How would you describe your scrapbooking style? What makes your style your own?

I’m not sure if I really have an identifiable style! My layouts can range from graphic to homespun. I enjoy switching the style up a bit depending on the story and message I want to convey in the layout.

Almost every layout however is driven by the story and photo. I love to manipulate my photos in order to better tell that story. For example, I often combine black and white photos with a color photo. I think it helps send my message across.


My computer has become my best scrapping buddy. After being diagnosed with MS 2 years ago, scrapbooking became difficult. I started using my computer to help get the basic framework of the layout done. This led to my love of hybrid layouts. Now, even though scrapbooking has become somewhat easier for me, I’m tempted to use my computer on almost every page.


What inspires you to be creative?

My layouts are driven by a photo or story I want to tell. I’ll see a photo that sparks a memory or an emotion, and I’ll want to document it in a scrapbook page or mini album.

Great product can also inspire me to create; whether it be a cool flea market find or a manufactured scrapbook product. When I saw these chipboard buttons (below) I immediately wanted to pair them with my found jewelry parts and flea market finds to create one-of-a-kind ornaments:


Who are your favorite scrapbook designers and why?

It is so very hard to name favorite scrapbookers because there are just so many and I’m sure to forget someone. I can tell you who played major roles in inspiring me over the years:

Cathy Blackstone - I first saw Cathy’s layouts when I started scrapbooking, and I immediately connected with them. The way her layouts told stories, often with humor and great photographs, was exactly what I was trying to do. She was genius with layout design and product usage, too.

Donna Downey – There was an article in a 2003 issue of Simple Scrapbooks by an upcoming scrapbooker Donna Downey called Shabby Simple. She showed us how to create layouts that were incredibly gorgeous and artistic without being overwhelming. I haven’t looked at that article in years, but the artistic message has stuck with me. We all know how Donna is inspiring scrapbookers today!

The (entire) Jenni Bowlin Mercantile Design Team – When I was laid up for months a couple of years ago I cruised the internet and happened upon the Jenni Bowlin monthly kit Design Team Gallery. I was inspired by the different styles and jaw dropping works of art. It pushed me to order my first ever scrapbooking kit. Working with a kit with hand picked products and unique finds inspired me to scrap again. I was creating again!

What are your favorite color combination to design with right now?
It may sound boring, but I do love designing with a white background. It has a nice clean look and again helps bring attention to my photos.


I’m also loving turquoise and red together. I love the happy combination and am even thinking of decorating a room in those colors!


Pink and orange or pink and yellow are other combinations on my radar!

What is your creative process?

I usually start with a story I want to tell. If I have an obvious photo that goes with that story, I’ll pull it out. If not, I may find a miscellaneous photo that will get the idea across.

I’ll then pull out a scrap piece of paper the same size of my project and start drawing the basic outline of my layout. I may look in my many notebooks of inspiration if I get stuck.

Once I think I’m on the right track with my drawing, I’ll start pulling out product. I look to my photos to direct color choices usually.

The actual creating of the project can take a long time. I’ll keep the partially finished project on my desk and walk back and forth to it, moving things around until I like what I see. That process can actually take days!

If I find that something is just not right but I can’t put my finger on it, I’ll use my secret weapon. My 17 year old son has quite the eye for design and he’ll take a quick look for me and usually can spot what a project needs immediately!

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

I want everyone to know that if you want to create and there is a big mountain of an obstacle in your way, don’t give up. Find a way to do what you love.


How can you inspire others to "create well"?

Expecting your projects to be perfect will stop your artistic endeavors in its tracks. Don’t expect it, don’t strive for it. It will paralyze you! Instead, enjoy the process full of its imperfections and mistakes. Create for the sake of creating and tell a story you want to be told. Look around you for little sparks of inspiration. These little sparks are everywhere: in a photo, in the words of a 3 year old, on the label of a can of soup! Look around you with the purpose of using what you find. This helps me create well and create often!


You can find Betsy at her blog, Just a Pharm Girl and at her You Tube Channel. Betsy is also going to be teaching an online class on Scrapbook Challenges; keep checking back here for more info!

Create Well: Create for the sake of creating and tell a story you want to be told.

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