When I recently shared on Facebook and Instagram that I was storing Immy’s artwork from last year I received a number of questions about what I keep and how I recommend storing kid’s artwork. With my first book, Time to Create, due for release in just a few months (you can see it available here on Amazon for pre-order), we have a LOT of 2012 artwork to store for prosperity so I thought I would share the processes I go through to decide what to keep and how I store those items that actually make the cut.
First and most importantly your storage system needs to take into account the space you have available. When Immy first started to draw and create with other art materials, I kept pretty much everything, a result of the emotion and sense of wonder of having a child of my own who produced such awe inspiring creations (but maybe that is just me!) Nowadays I tend to be a little more selective, keeping the more significant pieces, after all kids who like to make and create can be pretty prolific producers of art. How do I choose? I usually consider;
- Was this a ‘first’? Whether it be a first time at representing something, like the first person your child has drawn, or the first attempt with a new creative medium or technique.
- Does this represent a significant event like an outing or the anticipation of a new baby?
- Does this represent a topic of interest or fascination for my child? I don’t think Immy will remember that she was obsessed with crocodiles when she was two and a half but we have the artwork to prove it.
- Does this show mastery of a new skill or an understanding of something new? An example might be the first time your child draws clothing on people.
- Will this keep? Some artwork, like our clay and egg shell mosaic, is so fragile that it just does not make good sense to keep the original piece. in this case I will take a photograph to preserve the memory.
Once you have decided what to keep, the question then becomes where to keep it. I tend to use flat cardboard storage boxes that are large enough to lay an A3 sized piece of paper in them. Some I have purchased from a discount store but even a large shoe box from a pair of boots serves the purpose well. I like using a box instead of a folder as it allows me to keep a few 3-dimensional pieces as well as paper based artwork but if you only have space for folders then your child’s artwork can be folded and stored in plastic sleeves and you can take photographs of 3D pieces to add to the binder or portfolio.
A third solution would be to photograph all of your child’s special pieces of art to keep electronically or to have printed into a photo book for the year. This has the advantage of taking up even less space then a folder but requires more discipline to see it through to completion. Kate of Picklebums offers some helpful suggestions for photographing children’s artwork here.
Another thing I like to do is purchase large, spiral bound sketchbooks for Immy to create paper based artworks in. It usually means I have less little pieces of loose paper to deal with and sketchbooks can be easily labelled with the period of time the artwork was created in, for example, May – July 2012.
One thing I highly recommend is taking a moment to annotate each artwork you decide to keep with your child’s name, the date and a short note detailing the significance of the piece, or try scribing what your child has to say about their own piece of work.
How do you decide which artworks to keep and how do you store them?