Your child’s artwork – keep it or toss it?

There is only so much room on a refrigerator, so what do you do with all the artwork your children produce? Do you save it? Do you toss it? It seems to be an age-old question that many parents struggle with.
Storing all of it could mean that at some point the boxes of artwork will take over your home. Do you move to a larger house? Rent a storage locker?  Or god-forbid, trash it? The bigger issue, in my opinion, is that by keeping all the beautiful scribbles, the miniature hand-prints, the colorful stick figures, and the intricate designs hidden away, no one ever gets to enjoy them.
For years I carefully piled my children’s artwork into numerous boxes which I stored at the top of my closets, in my garage, and under my bed where they sat gathering dust. What was I saving them for? Perhaps one day we might open the boxes and revisit these precious creations, but in the end we would have to box them back up and slide them back beneath the bed. I had to wonder if such short “visits” were a good reason to be keeping these boxes??!!
Then, one day, as I was trying to “de-clutter” my daughter’s closet, I began to go through the boxes of artwork from the past eight years of her life – “revisiting” these precious creations. There were beautiful crayon houses, trees and flowers, first written words, tons of self-portraits, and a multitude of princess drawings. What was I going to do with these? We were running out of storage space, but each piece was priceless to me. My sentimental side began arguing with my practical side – keep it, toss it, keep it, toss…Then the light bulb went off – for years I had been creating family photo books online, why couldn’t I do something similar featuring my children’s artwork? So, I embarked on a project –  I began by photographing each piece of art (not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination…if I had only begun doing this when she was 2 years old!), editing and downloading the photos, and creatively formatting the photos using online software. The end-product was a beautiful bound coffee table book featuring the work of my very own Van Gogh! Following, I created a book containing my son’s art work, and I have not stopped making books since.
Once the books were complete, I sorted through the piles and piles of art, selected a few favorite pieces which I could not bear to part with, stored them away, and trashed the rest (what a great feeling!). Now, I have more space (hurray) as the books take up very little room (large boxes compared to a 8×8 book – it’s a no brainer!). More importantly though:
  • I am able to enjoy my children’s artwork at any time by just walking into the living room and picking up a book;
  • My kids can proudly share their books with friends and other visitors and will easily be able to keep their art forever, just in a different format; and
  • We have wonderful gifts for grandparents that treasure everything their grandchildren do.
So, when I was recently contemplating the next chapter of my life, trying to figure out what I could do with my free-time while remaining a stay-at-home mom, someone asked me “what do you enjoy doing?” Without skipping a beat, I replied “I love creating one-of-a-kind photo books like those I make containing my children’s artwork.” From this conversation, OUTSIDE the BOX creations was born!
While, our business concept has since grown and now encompasses the many possibilities for “alternative” photo books and video montages, art photo books will always remain the centerpiece of OUTSIDE the BOX creations and will remain the closest to my heart!