The Adventure Starts Here: Organizing the Artwork

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Organizing the Artwork

If you read my blog on a regular (or even semi regular) basis, you know that we do a lot of crafts.  In addition to all the artwork Noah creates at home, he's now started bringing even more home from school and camp.  While I hang most of it up on our basement and pantry doors (in our kitchen), I physically don't have the space to display all of it forever.  That's when I knew I had to come up with a plan!

I decided early on that I did not want the clutter involved in keeping every piece or artwork that Noah makes.  But that doesn't mean I don't want to remember it all.   So instead, I decided to take photos of his creations with the intention of making a book of his many masterpieces!  Here are 4 simple steps to help manage the artwork that comes with a preschooler!  

1.  Take lots of photos! 

Since I share many of our craft projects on the blog, this part has become rather natural.  In addition to photographing the finished product, I also like to document the process... Noah painting, coloring, cutting, etc.   The crafts that I plan out ahead of time are shared on the blog, and therefore obviously well photographed.  I also photograph the "real" art projects (more than just a drawing or coloring page) that Noah brings home from school.  Instead of taking photos every time he brings something home, I keep a pile of them and then photograph a big batch every few weeks.  As for the hundreds of drawings that Noah creates on a daily basis, I am a little more selective in what I choose to keep for prosperity.  For example, I photographed Noah's first ever drawing he made at school, something that shows his awesome scissor skills, and when he started getting good at writing his letters.  I also photograph any paintings he makes that actually resemble something rather than just an abstract mess.   I even take photos of some of his play-doh creations that I find to be extra creative!  The promise of a photo is also how I get Noah to clean up his projects before the play-doh hardens.  

As for photographing the actual craft, I like to have a consistent background.  So I make sure to photograph them all on Noah's white table, with the overhead lights off, and natural light coming in through the sliding doors to my deck.   I find my pages look better with the white backgrounds.      

2.  Organize the photos

I upload all my photos into Photos on my MacBook Pro.  I created an "album" so all my craft photos are in one convenient location.    

3.  Create a book 

Now that all my photos are in one place, I simply upload them to the Chatbooks website and make my book.  I love the idea of an art book because I can flip through it at any time and it barely takes up any space on my bookshelf!  I usually make my photo albums on Shutterfly, but for this project I decided to try out Chatbooks.  I liked the idea of a smaller, 6x6 book and figured it was worth a try to see if I liked the quality.  While I prefer hard cover books for my family photo albums, I really liked the soft cover for Noah's artwork.  So far I've made a book with all of the art projects Noah made his first year in preschool.  At the end of the year I plan to make another book with all the art projects we've made at home in 2015 and 2016.  

4.  Toss (most of) the originals in the garbage

Once all my photos are photographed and in a book, I start throwing out the physical pieces.  I know some people have a hard time throwing them out, but I'm honestly okay with it.  I do however throw them out when Noah isn't around, cause I really don't know how Noah would feel about it.  Before you think I'm heartless, I do keep a few for sentimental reasons.  I have a document box that I keep in my office that stores all of the super special creations I just can't bear to part with.  

How do you manage all the artwork?  Are you eager to throw them out or do you like to save it all?


  1. This is a great idea! I just store most of them in a plastic container, but I might just need to rethink things. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Love this idea!!!!! I don't keep everything, just some faves! :)

  3. I've always wanted to do something like that but never got around to it!

  4. I have saw this idea YEARS ago when Marissa had first started Pre-K but I quickly became overwhelmed and never followed it through. I REALLY wish that I had though.

  5. That's a great idea! Have you been doing that since the beginning? I have a box where I keep all her really good artwork/stuff she actually did vs teachers doing most of it but I LOVE this idea

  6. I think this is such a good idea! I have a huge bag just from his first year of preschool, but anytime I try to throw anything away he freaks out. I know I will have to eventually, so taking pictures is a good way to remember them.

  7. I never thought to make a chat book out of the art work! That's a great idea! My only problem is... I like to hang artwork on our gallery wall and if I toss them all, I don't know what to hang the next year. Haha. They do SUCH cute stuff at school but they always hold on to it until after the holiday so I feel like I have to hang on to it until the next season so I have something hang at the appropriate holiday. Hmm... I'll have to think of something!

  8. This is such a great idea!! I love it!! I usually scan the 'keepers' and throw away the rest. Unfortunately, I'll like regret throwing it all away later. :/

  9. I love this idea!! I think my daughter would LOVE to flip through a book of her own artwork :)

  10. I haven't tried Chatbooks for that, but it's a great idea. I store all of the photos of Reed's in an app called Artkive, but I've never done anything with them. A book would be awesome for him to look through.

  11. This is the best idea ever! Genius. I need to do this with some of the things Mason brings home from school. I have such a tough time throwing things out, but this is perfect.


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