An Interview with Jamie Harper

 By Jill Davis, Founder of Scrapbook.com 


Creating a new layout can feel as challenging as finding the courage to jump off a high dive.  I sometimes think about a layout for days before getting the courage to start it.  Two things are going on with me.  First, I’m not sure that I’ll have enough knowledge to do what I want.  And second, I’m concerned that I won’t have the time to concentrate--inviting a belly flop.  Hearing the positive reassurance of my coaches (art teachers) in my head eventually turns my doubts into triumphs.   
 
When I first met scrapbook artist and instructor, Jamie Harper she was presenting scrapbooking techniques and concepts to a captive audience.  Her confidence urged the group up a ladder to higher ways of thinking and exciting possibilities.  Her teaching helped us to see concepts we didn’t know were possible.  Her coaching skills made us excited to jump into something new. 
 
Jamie took time out of her busy schedule as a mom of four exuberant kids and her professional scrapbooking to participate in this interview.  I promise that her paper layering coaching will open your mind, as it did mine, to new possibilities for your layouts.
 
Jill:  What is paper layering?
Jamie: Paper layering is simply taking coordinating solid colored and/or patterned papers and layering them on top of each other to form the foundation for your layout. 
 
Jill:  What’s the purpose of paper layering?
Jamie:  It’s a much simpler and faster approach to completing layouts.  Instead of backing photographs with paper or cardstock and adding embellishments to complete your layout, paper layering takes the place of all of it.
 
Jill:  What is the first, and sometimes hardest step, to take toward starting a paper layered layout?
Jamie:  I think the hardest step is the first step (chuckle)…actually starting the page.  We experience the fear of making something and not having it turn out great; like we wanted it to be.  We have doubts that we won’t finish it, or wonder if we chose the right colors.  When you remove the fear and acknowledge that every mistake can be fixed, you’ll be able to move forward with a no-fear attitude. 
 
Jill:  What’s the key to knowing which papers will work together?
Jamie:  Let your photographs speak the colors to you.   Most papers can work as long as the colors tie together.  Here’s one way to approach evaluating as you’re choosing papers for a layout:
 

  1. Choose a base paper that is a multi-colored stripe with red, blue, purple, green, orange and pink. With this decision made you can now look for other papers with different patterns but similar tints and shades of these colors. 
  2. The next paper could be a floral with reds, purples and pinks which ties three colors into the base paper.  (Or, you could choose a wider stripe in pinks and oranges)
  3. Your next choice could be a geometric paper that has blue and orange circles.  This connects two more colors.
  4. The final paper could be a purple solid or a patterned paper with purple and two of the colors from your second and third papers.     

Jill:  How do you decide on which papers you will use and which layering approach to take?
Jamie:  Look at your photos again and lay them on the papers you’ve chosen.  You may see that only two papers make the photos complete or you may see that you need more papers.  It’s totally up to you.  The easiest choice for paper layering selections is to purchase a paper pack or kit.  I love the new BasicGrey packs because all of the papers coordinate and can be used for numerous layering combos.   
 
Jill:  Where do you get your ideas for color combinations?
Jamie:  Most of my ideas come from my head.  Being an artist, I love to look for color combinations.  I look for them in the fashion industry.  Fashion designers make up great color combinations that most of us never think would work together, but they do.  Take a walk through your local mall or look through the latest fashion magazines.  Try some of those color combinations when selecting your papers to layer.
 
Jill:  Do you have favorite ways you layout your papers?
Jamie:  Not really, I just do what comes to me.  But the first trick to layering is to make the layers “float”.  In order for that to happen you need to layer so that the edges of your layers are visible.  If edges get covered the flow of that layer stops and the layering won’t feel right or look good to you.  Our eye and brain want to see the start and finish of the papers…so that they’re never ending. (See Figures 1 and 2)
 
The second trick to layering is to sand or ink each edge of each layer.  This takes the sharpness out of the edges and softens them, which helps them flow. 
 
               
     Figure 1:  Bottom layers covered                                 Figure 2:  All layers flowing
 
 
Jill:  Do you ever select paper that is solid in color instead of patterned?  When?
Jamie:  Yes.  When I have very busy and colorful photographs, placing them on tons of color would not help the photos to be front and center in the layout.    
 
Jill:  Who is/was your personal coach and what do/did they say to you?
Jamie:  I have many personal coaches in my life.  I am lucky to have a huge circle of friends and family involved in scrapbooking that I can bounce my thoughts and ideas off of.  We all have a wonderful group to do this with right here at Scrapbook.com. This community is so responsive and positive.  If you don’t have a family member, friend, or coach you have a whole community right at your fingertips.      
 
Jill:  What would you say to someone who is “taking the plunge?”
Jamie:  I’d tell them to look at a young Scrapbooker.  They just go for it with no fear--no pondering for hours, they just do it.  We grow and learn best from our own experiences.  Just jump in with both feet and try, even if it takes a few times to get it right, you will get it right.  I have all the confidence in the world that you can do it.  You’ll love the results but you have to try first. 
 
Jill:  Any other thoughts before we conclude?
Jamie:  In this fast paced, often crazy world, we need tools and information that helps us do things more efficiently.  Paper layering lets me get layouts done well in less time than I use to spend on scrapbooking.  Knowing how to choose and layer paper enables me to select and combine beautiful colors and patterns so I can create layouts that evoke feelings of joy when I finish them.    
 
Jill:  These few minutes with you have made me want to let go of the side of the pool and climb to the high dive to execute swan dives (laugh).  Thanks for sharing this invaluable information and for your superb coaching, Jamie.
Jamie:  (Smile) You’re welcome.