This Y2K-Era Hobby Is Making a Major Comeback—With a 2023 Twist

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scrapbooking makes a comeback: redheaded woman draws in notebook
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If you stepped into a Michaels or JOANN’s in the early aughts, you were sure to encounter three things: boybands crooning over the speakers, scrapbooking workshop announcements and aisles upon aisles of puffy stickers, washi tape, binders and patterned paper to make said scrapbooks. It seemed like every mom, grandma and Disney vacationer in America was obsessed with chronicling their lives in Comic Sans font. By 2012, scrapbooking was an estimated $3.5 billion industry.

But, over time, interest dwindled, a fact a 2004-to-present Google Trends search confirms. Scrapbooking wasn’t so mainstream—it was relegated to the, well, clichés listed above, as our creative energy shifted to social media. Who needs a scrapbook to remind you of your past when you have Instagram and Facebook feeds?

Anybody who’s sick of staring at a screen does, it turns out. Pinterest named the rise of paper crafts one of 2023’s biggest emerging trends, citing increased interest in everything from origami (up 175 percent) to quilling (up 60 percent). More specifically, the team at Brother—the craft behemoth known for making everything from printers to sewing machines—is seeing a resurgence in scrapbooking, this time amid its younger customers.

making a scrapbook
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So What’s the Appeal?

“Scrapbooking draws on a variety of skills to create something that’s truly one-of-a-kind and meaningful,” explains Megan Tozzi, Senior Product Manager at Brother, adding that people are drawn to it as a way to unplug and destress.

There’s a certain nostalgic quality to it, too: “We’re also seeing a resurgence in ‘90s trends, even in the crafting world,” she adds. “While we live in an age where you can easily document every moment with friends and loved ones online, scrapbooking remains a fun and easy way to express your creativity and further celebrate important memories and life milestones. It’s a tangible keepsake that’s totally personalized and unique that can be passed down to future generations.”  

For some people, the heirloom appeal—and ability to tell their story on their terms, artistically—is a major draw. Avid scrapbookers refer to it as sharing their “heritage stories,” though there’s rising interest in scrapbooks as purely creative outlets, often referred to as “junk journals.” Tiktokker @flinasday has amassed 3.5 million followers posting ASMR scrapbooking videos, rifling through accordion files of vintage-looking postcards and notes, tearing and taping to create two-page-spread collages. Her captions are minimal—usually just a credit for artwork used and a few hashtags to categorize the clip—but they soon draw thousands of likes and dozens of comments, as people rave about the aesthetic and the sounds produced.

Suddenly, it’s not just a way for the creator to unwind; it’s become a thumb-stopping soul-soother for millions of endless scrollers online. To that end, #scrapbook has amassed 2.6 billion views and climbing on TikTok, with many of them less personal-storytelling and more ASMR takes on themes, be it pop culture (Disney, Stranger Things and Tim Burton movies are all popular) or specific color palettes or riffs on florals.

“Scrapbooking is my escape from everything—it is my creative escape…a necessary escape,” artist Yin Goh recently shared on the Scrapbook Your Way podcast.

It’s become a ritual of sorts for Goh. “It could be 20 minutes. It could be 2 hours. I spend a little time each day [scrapbooking],” she says.

Crafting forces you to be present “and distract you from everyday pressures and problems,” according to New York University psychologist Robert Reiner, PhD, who studied sewing and stress relief. And in that sense, it can be cathartic too. Scrapbooking has been used as part of bereavement counseling, and the creativity it requires has been linked to both boosting your mood and helping your mind stay sharp.

“You can also always keep learning—someone may start out using sticker designs that come with your machine to decorate the pages, then advance to drawing your own personalized designs to take it to the next level,” Tozzi says.

These Aren’t Your Mama’s Scrapbooks

Just as our skills evolve, so do the materials used to make scrapbooks. Inkless printers that use heat to transfer images onto stickers—such as the Brother ColAura and HP Sprocket—make it easy (and mess-free) to take photos from your phone to the page. Apps like Canva let you create custom graphics in seconds. And the three-dimensional scrapbook stickers of the past have given way to people experimenting with gold foil, printing on canvas paper and stitching onto their pages. The effect is homespun yet digitally savvy; completely customized and unique.

That, ultimately, is the returning (and enduring) appeal of scrapbooking: It can be whatever you want it to be. Or, as Tozzi puts it, “there’s no right or wrong way to scrapbook.” It doesn’t have to be capital-A Art you share with everyone you know on TikTok; maybe it’s just the “junk journal” you pour your stresses into at the end of a long day.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...