Life · tips

How to creatively organize and display your children’s artwork

How to capture, organize, and make a photo book of your child's artwork

Melissa (circa 2012, sans kids) declared that she would never have a million pieces of children’s artwork plastered on her refrigerator and stuffed in random drawers.  As always, life has a way of teaching you a lesson when you say “I will never do this or that.”  As you can guess, my real life in 2017 with two energetic little boys is quite different than how I had envisioned my life to be back then.  Every day, dishes pile high and laundry sits in the hamper for days.  The reality for most families is that more and more things get added to the “to do” list so that only the most urgent items actually get done each day.  Items on the “would be nice to do one day when I have time” list get pushed further and further down.

One thing that I’ve wanted to do since my kids were old enough to make art was to find a way to creatively organize the endless supply of cute artwork that my boys bring home from school.  If you’re like me, you probably feel guilty about throwing away your children’s artwork, but the sheer volume of it starts to take over your home if you don’t do something about it.  One day, after my four-year-old was devastated to find some of his artwork from school in the trash, I decided that it was time to find a way to archive these precious mementos to enjoy in the future without cluttering up my home.  After doing some research on how to best accomplish that task, I decided to digitally catalog their artwork and make hardcover art books to keep and to give as gifts to family.

How to capture, organize, and make a photo book of your child's artwork

Before I show you how I captured, organized, and made photo books of my children’s artwork, I will mention a couple of other options I came up with.

1. Concierge service

If you’re short on time or just don’t want to take on the challenge, you can have a company do it for you.  Simply mail all of your children’s artwork in a prepaid box and the artwork will be professionally photographed/scanned and turned into a hardcover book.  Artkive and Plum Print are two companies that offer this service.  I also found this article by the Pioneer Woman to be helpful in comparing the different options.  I haven’t personally tried these companies so I can’t vouch for their quality or service.

2. Professional DIY

If you have more time to spare and have a good quality digital SLR camera, this is a good option to consider.  I ultimately decided not to go this route because I wanted to get the project done without spending too much time or money.  Here are some good resources, though,  if you’re interested in going all out:

Photo books to celebrate kids artwork

Shutterfly’s ideas for turning kids artwork into gifts

How to capture, organize, and make a photo book of your child's artwork

3. Happy Chic Mom’s “good enough” children’s art book

I decided I wasn’t willing to spend the money for Option 1 (concierge service), or the time for Option 2 (professional DIY), so I ended up doing a kind of quick-and-simple version of Option 2 instead.  Last week, when my husband took the boys to their Saturday gymnastics class, I decided to tackle the project.  It actually wasn’t as bad of a process as I had thought.  It took me a couple of hours to gather, organize, and photograph 60 pieces of artwork.  This is my step-by-step process:

  1. Gather all of the artwork and make a pile that is in chronological order (at least roughly).  If you have more than one child, make separate piles for each child.
  2. If you don’t have them already, download Google PhotoScan and Google Photos.
  3. Find a well-lit spot in your home (natural light is best) to photograph the artwork.  If you have more than one child, photograph the piles separately.
  4. Open PhotoScan on your smart phone and allow the app access to your phone’s camera.  You can start to take pictures of the artwork by clicking on the white button.  After you click the picture, four small white circles will appear.  Move your phone to hover over the four circles, one at a time, until each one becomes blue.  If this sounds confusing, don’t worry – there is a demo on what to do when you first open the PhotoScan app.  Photoscan app: How to creatively organize and display your children's artwork
  5. Once you’re done taking all the pictures, be sure to click “Save all.”  Please note that the PhotoScan app itself doesn’t save any photos so be sure to save before you close it.
  6. After all of the artwork has been photographed, save them to Google Photos.  Select the artwork and click the “+” button and select “album.”  Under the album tab, click the  “new album” and name it something like “Emma’s Artwork 2017.”
    RELATED TIP: If your’e not using Google Photos, I would highly recommend it as a great free iCloud back-up source for all of your pictures.  For more information on this, see my post on 7 simple tips for taking and preserving great photos.
  7. Edit the pictures in the Google Photos app if desired.  This is totally optional, as the Google PhotoScan app does a great job at getting a good image and cropping them for you.
  8. To create a professional looking art book, once you’re in the Google Photos album, click on the three dots on the upper right hand corner and select “create photo book.”  Edit the title and you’re done!  7-inch softcover books are $9.99 for 20 pages and 9-inch hardcover books are $19.99.  I would go with the latter for a more professional look. How to creatively organize and display your children's artwork
  9. Voila!  You have just organized, decluttered and digitally preserved your child’s artwork, and created a photo book for everyone to enjoy.  Let’s be honest, a classy hardcover book of art sitting beautifully on your coffee table is much more attractive than a big, disorganized pile of artwork in a box under the bed or in a closet.  And the reality is that you are much more likely to pick up a book sitting on a shelf or table and take an emotional trip down memory lane than you are to dig out the old dusty box of artwork from the attic.

After going through the process once, it’s easy to add new artwork and create new photo books.  Keep only the best artwork and toss the rest (but don’t let your child find them in the trash!) or use them as custom cards to mail to friends and family.  Create a tray for the keepers and place the newest pieces on top to keep them in chronological order.  Once the stack starts to pile up, repeat the process.  Or you can make a habit of doing it every year around the time of your child’s birthday to organize the albums by your child’s age.

How to capture, organize, and make a photo book of your child's artwork

What system do you use to organize and display your child’s artwork?  If you have found this to be helpful, please share with your friends, family and Facebook groups.

Thanks for stopping by!  Please click the “follow” button to receive email notification of future blog posts and follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

-Melissa
Happy Chic Mom, a blog for moms

The post, how to creatively organize and display your children’s artwork, first appeared on Happy Chic Mom.

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