The Master of Quiet Spaces | A Scrapper’s Style Interview with Liz Tamanaha of Paislee Press
I’ve “digitally” known Liz for about three years — she was the first designer I collaborated with for a class. And to this day, her style STILL amazes me. Her pages are soft and inviting and she has an amazing gift for subtle, but unmistakable, design. I’d love to learn the secrets of how she brings just a few photos and pieces together so elegantly. ~ Tiffany Tillman
An Interview with Liz Tamanaha
Hi Liz! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a digital designer and owner of Paislee Press, a wife and work at home mom to our two daughters, ages 3 and 4. And I started paper scrapbooking in 2004 and ventured into digital scrapbooking in late 2005.
Liz, that’s almost seven years! Does your current style look anything like how you began? Or has it evolved over time?
Yes, my style definitely changed over time! I was kind of all over the place when I first started, going from simple to shabby chic, and even dabbling in the artsy collage look. I failed miserably at that though!
Now I’m back in the simple phase so in a sense I’ve come full circle. I think that my style will continue to evolve as my tastes change and as I learn new things.
Liz’s Unique Style Identification
Shabby Chic? You!? That’s truly amazing! It does takes time to find and develop a style that’s all your own. How would you characterize your current style?
- Minimal. First and foremost, I’m a minimalist at heart. I like white space and I exercise a lot of restraint when it comes to adding extras like embellishments and such to my pages.
- Photo-centric. This is my guiding design principle. My pages start and finish with the photos. To start there’s the process of deciding which photo(s) to use and then there’s the photo editing process. Lately, I’ve been wishing that I could just skip this step altogether, but it’s not going to happen until I improve my photography skills. When I’m working on the layout I make sure that nothing I add to the design commands more attention than the photos so that in the end, they remain the main focus of the page.
- Quiet. This is a word that others have used to describe my layouts. I’m not quite sure what “quiet” entails but I’m guessing they mean my style isn’t loud, bold or in your face. I do like to keep things subtle (neutrals and no more than 5 different colors on a page). I do like to present things on a smaller scale – photos are usually smaller than the standard 4×6, and I prefer using light weight text and I generally keep the font size at 12 or 14.
Do you often incorporate techniques into your pages?
Hmm, I’d say that it’s the way I use white space and typography to guide the eye and focus on the photo(s). Isn’t that considered a “technique”? I’m just teasing!
I know, I know! So, I’m going to be honest: I’ve always thought minimalist pages don’t take long to complete but that isn’t necessarily true. Clear it up for us — how long does it take for you to complete a page, on average?
This depends on the type of page I’m working on. A page that’s part of a photobook takes me anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. These types of pages come together more quickly because I apply the same design style (text, journaling voice, color scheme, etc.) to all the pages so that in the end I have a book that’s visually cohesive.
A standalone page (meaning it’s not destined for a specific album or photobook), however, can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3+ hours. I don’t mind at all that these types of pages take me longer because this is when I do the type of scrapbooking that’s really FUN – experimenting with different styles, trying out new techniques, etc. It’s therapeutic and helps me further hone and define my style.
Interesting! You try to step outside your style comfort zone?
Most definitely! When I feel like I’m stuck in a rut stepping out of my comfort zone to try something that isn’t part of my normal repertoire helps get me back on track.
Liz’s Style Support
Now we all know that you’re an amazing digital kit designer! Who else are your “go-to” digital suppliers?
Since I’m a minimalist I tend to gravitate towards kits in that genre because they typically have all the things I’m looking for: subtly textured background papers, a healthy dose of neutrals, lots of stamp and brushwork, and lots of wordart.
I haven’t scrapped in a few months (gah!) but if I were, I would be picking up kits from One Little Bird, Vinnie Pearce and elements packs by Amy Martin (I’m hopelessly addicted to her messy stitches).
With that being said, I’m also drawn to kits that are really bright, a bit quirky and whimsical, like Kitschy Digitals by Danielle Thompson. And right now I’m crushing hard on everything in Valerie Wibben’s shop. They both have such a unique and distinct look to their products. So they are my go to designers when I want to make a page that has an element of the unexpected.
Are there any other minimalists who inspire you as a page designer?
Oh man, there are so many scrapbookers that inspire me! If I had to choose just one, it would have to be Desiree McClellan because she does it all just so perfectly – her typography, her photography, her use of white space, her writing voice.
Yes! She knocks the socks off of the style too. Thank you for pointing us to her gallery. Before we wrap up, care to share some tips with scrapbookers who want to design pages similar to your own?
Sure! The key to creating “quiet spaces” on a layout is paying attention to size. Since I like building in a significant amount of white space on my pages, everything is scaled down. My photos are usually smaller than 4 x 6 and the journaling on my pages are usually between 11 to 14 point font (this is key!!).
Also, try to pay attention to how things are sized in relation to one another. Everything on the layout should be scaled just right so they play off each other, rather than compete with one another.
Thank you, Liz, for sharing your thoughts with us — I hope you enjoyed this as much as we enjoyed learning more about your craft. On behalf of our digital scrapbooking community, thanks and please continue sharing your amazing talent.
About this Interview
Scrapper’s Style interviews are an extension of Scrapper’s Style | the eBook, which helps digital crafters identify their own, unique style and ultimately build better scrapbook pages. With proven strategies for digital scrapbookers, the book offers in-depth tips for linear, layered, and artistic layouts. Check back here every Monday for a new Scrapper’s Style Interview.