Friday, September 9, 2011

Artwork Trash or Treasure

I talk to many people about what their number one organizing issue is.  The answer always boils down to the same thing: PAPER.  I’ve written about paper management before.  I even give talks on it!  At these talks, I often meet parents who are overwhelmed with the amount of paper creations their children make.  Children love to create.  And as parents, it is sometimes hard to know what to treasure and what to trash.  Pay attention to the following, and you just may learn how to whittle down that enormous tower of art hovering in the corner. 

For most of us, it is the beginning of a new school year.  The children have all gone back to school and we are starting to get a handle on having a new schedule and some different routines than our Summer months allowed.  What a perfect time to set up a system for acquiring your child’s artwork. 

We are all so proud of our children for the hard work that they do.  Set up a display place for their art and good works to rotate.  It can be a special bulletin board, the refrigerator door, or a rotating frame gallery.  I especially like an art wall a friend has made by stringing some heavy wire between two wall hooks and using clothespins to attach art and create a gallery wall. 
image (ala Pottery Barn’s cable system)
Leave things on display as time and space allow.  When new creations come in, the older art can move to the next phase…

Whether it is a fancy basket, a cardboard bankers filing box, or a plastic tub – designate a location for art and special papers to collect.  We will call this the “Art Basket”.  Just having everything in one spot makes the next step so much easier!

Sort Together.
Pick a time each month to sit down with your child and sort through the Art Basket.  Keep 4 items total for each month.  Let you child choose favorites and have him tell you WHY it is a favorite or WHAT makes it special.  If you choose 4 pieces of art for each month, that is approximately one per week.  Think of your child’s entire elementary school career.  You will be saving roughly 36 pieces of art each year, multiplied by 6 years for a total of 196.  That’s nearly 200 projects to look back on with warm fuzzy memories!  (Add to that special holiday memorabilia, summer camp, and at-home creations and the number reaches even higher!)

Go digital.
Because it may be hard to let some things go, particularly if you think that SOME DAY my child is going to miss this precious piece of paper and the accomplishment that it portrays – then by all means, take a picture.  It may even be fun to take a picture of your child WITH his art so that you can see how small he was when he made that gorgeously weird squiggly thing-bob.  Keep the printed pictures stored with the other artwork so that everything remains together as a fond memory unit.  Not much of a photog? You don’t have to be!  Many art pieces can even be scanned.  Store all the art in one digital file so that you and your child can watch their artistic progression as a slide-show!

Taking pictures is also a great way to “store” a 3-D art project without actually keeping it around.

Letting go.
Yes, friends this is the "TRASH” step.  If your child (or you) have a difficult time throwing out all of the artistic genius that lies before you, mail it to relatives for them to enjoy.  If there are grandparents living far away, it may be a good way for them to stay in touch with your child and it will also give your child something to share with their grandparents. 

Now that I have all of this artwork sorted, what do I do with it?  Notebook, portfolio, memory box.  Choose one way to store it and SET A LIMIT.  Need more ideas on specific storage? Drop me a line!

Keep it up!
This does require time and maintenance, just like anything else in life.  Your child will probably look forward to spending time with you, looking through their monthly accruement of papers and sharing memories about the special creations.  As you sort with your children, you are teaching them several important life skills!  You will not only enjoy spending time sorting through art with your children, but also the fun of creating an art gallery to showcase their work.  Doesn’t that sound better than a pile of papers that needs to be shuffled around the dining room table?  Bonus!


If you are in the Jacksonville/St. Johns area and would like your home better organized, and would like the assistance of a professional organizer, e-mail  You can also find me on Facebook by clicking HERE or by searching for Organize With Julie.  Stalk me on twitter @juliebavi.

1 comment:

snaphappee said...

I LOVE the idea of sending the artwork on! We didn't intentionally do that, but when Nana came over and a kid asked if he could give her one of his artwork treasures I realized that we could at least move it out of the house this way. I wouldn't ever have thought of mailing it off to the grandparents though - that's great! (Not just grandparents either - I have a couple distant friends who don't have children - they've gotten some of my kids' artwork as thank you notes!)