Project Life – Looking Back (Part 1)

2014 was the 5th year I’d used the Project Life system to document my year in words and pictures. I thought I’d do a review of how the system has changed over this time and how I’m using it.

The system has changed a lot since I started back in 2010, but its aim has remained the same: to help people document their lives simply and quickly. To get it done.

Most years I’ve chosen one kit that will form the basis of my album, and I always have trouble deciding what that will be. This has become a more difficult decision in the last couple of years because of the huge range of kits and accessories that are available now.

It hasn’t always been like this.

In 2010, the first year of Project Life, there was one kit, one album and one design of photo pages. The only way you could get it from in Australia was to order from Craft House in New Zealand. Mary and David Roberts from Craft House put in a huge effort to make sure that Project Life was available to customers in Australia and New Zealand in its first years, and I really appreciate the work they did in getting me hooked on this product and helping me spend all my money!

I can remember pre-ordering my kit in 2009. Craft House had been hopeful the kits would arrive in early January, but international shipping and two lots of customs made sure this didn’t happen, and I was hanging out most of January waiting for my kit to arrive.

When it finally arrived, I was so excited to see what this system was all about. It was a thing back then to take a photo of yourself holding up the box when it arrived and I was no exception to this. The unboxing and setting up the album was fun and also documented in great detail so you could do a layout about your Project Life album.

20100129 Project Life 1Ahem.

(I didn’t document the Great Unboxing in 2010, because I was too excited about setting the album up.)

The basic design of the kits was the same as it is now, but it’s interesting to look back on that first kit and see how it has developed since 2010.

All the cards came in a little box. P1020834

When Becky Higgins came to Hobart last year I took this box in and got her to sign it for me. It was cool seeing her reaction to me handing her one of her very first products, and she seemed genuinely quite chuffed that I’d brought it in.

20140328 Becky 5But back to the kit  . . . The 3×4 journal and filler cards came in little boxes like sets of playing cards. 2010 - PL 3x4 cardsThere were day stickers and arrow stickers so you could identify your photos. There was also a date stamp (American format of course!) to date your journal cards.

2010 - PL stickersThe kits included a matching 12×12 paper pack.

2010 - PL Pattern PaperThe cards were one-sided, and the 6×4 title cards were all landscape format.

2010 - PL 6x4 cardsThe 3×4 journal and filler cards were portrait oriented. This was fine, because the pocket pages were all what we know now as Design A , with slots for 4 6×4 photos or title cards and 4 3×4 journal or filler cards.

While there was no definitive way to use the album, a popular thing was to use a weekly approach, with a double spread for each week, a title card and a filler card on the left hand page and then the remaining 7 6×4 slots filled with photos and the corresponding 3×4 pocket used for a journal card to describe the photo. It was ideal for the ‘photo a day’ concept, and there were enough cards and photo pocket pages to do 52 weeks like this.

I’ve never been a weekly layout Project Lifer, so I did mine my way, and ended up with quite a few cards left over. Here’s an example spread (left and right).

PL 2010 - Example page 1PL 2010 - Example page 2

(This one is actually a weekly spread, which is not how I did most of the year.)

The original kit was re-released a couple of years ago as the ‘Cherry’ Edition. I think it’s been discontinued now, but the digital version is still available, for free, on the Digital Project Life store.

Towards the end of 2010 Becky announced the 2011 release. This time there were 2 designs available for 2011 (Turquoise and Amber) and a second pocket page design (Design B), which had space for vertical 6×4 photos and horizontal journaling cards or photos. Some of the 3×4 cards were designed so they could be used either horizontally or vertically. I have a love-hate relationship with Design B. 3 photos and 6 card slots always seemed awkward to me and I have often struggled to fill the second 3×4 slot underneath a photo. Sometimes though, it works beautifully.

201201 PL Page 10 L 20120103 2011 Wreck this journal pageMy problems with it has now been addressed by Design D, which is Design A oriented the other way, so has one 3×4 card slot per photo.

Ordering for the 2011 kit worked the same as before: you pre-ordered and hoped it arrived before January. I spent a lot of time deciding which kit to buy. (You can imagine if it was this difficult for me to decide between 2 kits, how hard it is now with more than 20 kits available. Maybe more than 30. I’ve lost count!) There were only limited opportunities to get kits outside the pre-order system.

I finally chose Turquoise. The format of the 2011 kits was the same as in 2010, and this time I documented the unboxing.

20110104 PL 2 Unpacking box 1 20110104 PL 5 Unpacking box 4 20110104 PL 7 Me and kit 1 20110104 PL 14 Opening The Box 4 20110104 PL 17 Box contents 2And did a layout about it. As you do.

2011 PL page 1(L)So that’s my first two years of Project Life. Next post I’ll look at how the kits started to change in the 2012 release.

Do you use Project Life? How long have you been using it for? Do you remember the very early kits?