Featured Designer – Clever Monkey Graphics

Happy Friday Sweet Shoppers!  The longest month of the year (or so it feels) is almost over.  Once we get to February things speed up in my world, so I look forward to that to get out of the winter doldrums.  The designers have been creating so many great products to use, what have you been scrapping lately?

Today we have a new Featured Designer, Tracey of Clever Monkey Graphics.  Her kits are full of custom drawings that make her kits so unique, from a glance you can tell a Clever Monkey Graphics kit just from Tracey’s distinctive style!  Tracey also has a ton of great Commercial Use products, be sure to check those out in her store as well.

Before learning more about Tracey, check out her Featured Designer kit – Monet.  This kit, obviously inspired by the great artist, has a fantastic colour scheme and great elements for all those scrapping opportunities about your own art or budding artists, trips to museums and gardens, and in general anything that can be inspired by Monet’s impressionist paintings.  As always, this kit is FREE with your $10 purchase from now until the new releases go live on February 9th.

Tracey created these great cards to go with the kit, check these out too to go towards your $10 to get the above kit FREE with your $10 purchase.


And now to learn more about Tracey with a little Q&A.

Tell us about your journey with digital scrapbooking… How did you find out about it? Did you start with paper first? How did you get started designing? Where was your first shop? How and when did you end up at Sweet Shoppe Designs?

When my daughter was little, I discovered scrapbooking when invited to a Creative Memories party. I quickly discovered I loved it. Looking back, I wish digital cameras were in existence back then because I could have taken so many more great photos of her very early years. It didn’t take me long to accidentally discover digital scrapbooking. I was already schooled as a graphic designer and had already been making my own ‘digital’ titles and journaling which I printed.  Sweet Shoppe Designs had not yet even opened when I became a digital designer. To me, it was something I loved doing and got to stay home with my daughter as I worked.

To sell well in our industry, I think you need a mix of honing your skills, uniqueness to your work, and a store that is the right fit. I have been in several stores over the years. A couple closed up and I stayed a little too long at my final stores. My sister had just died of pancreatic cancer and even with a couple of big stores offering me spots, emotionally I wasn’t ready to try something new. Finally, enough time had passed and SSD was doing a designer call; my creative team pushed me to apply and I guess the rest is history. I now feel so honored to design beside these amazing designers under the leadership of a great store owner – Robin. (Note that all my past store owners have been wonderful ladies that I am happy to have forged friendships with too)

How do you define your style? What does that style include? How has your style changed over the years?

My collection previews are usually overflowing with my unique custom drawings. They are made with the pen tool in Photoshop or by drawing them in Procreate on my Ipad. Things that need clean sharp lines, I do in Photoshop. But that doesn’t mean I might not bring them into Procreate as a part of a 2-part process to add some paint on them. Likewise, I’ll bring something from Procreate into Photoshop for finishing styles.  Learn your skills and you can design anything.

Some kits can sit on my computer for up to a year unfinished perhaps because I am not sure how to approach an aspect of the kit to try to make it work best for digital scrapbooking. Or if I started it at the cusp of a season, something seasonal suddenly needs to take precedence. But a typical kit takes a week of time or sometimes a couple weeks to complete. But that is only a part of what is involved as you also need to upload, write kit descriptions, and do marketing. I run my own creative team of gals that I adore and I am known for throwing a kit at them to play with on the Thursday night before release. I’m very interactive with them as I design because their input helps to create a better end product that will appeal to a greater audience.

Where do you find inspiration for a new kit or template?

I make theme kits. I have folders of theme ideas that I collect on my computer. Theme choice for the week might be a request or a kit that I myself need. Sometimes the themes are seasonal. Sometimes they celebrate favorite shows that have cult followings. Sometimes my kits grow and grow into add-ons as is the case with the A Dog’s Life Too or Zoo-tastic. Once you include the petting zoo animal pack, there are 6 add-on animal packs for Zoo-tastic and A Dog’s Life Too has 4 add-on packs of dog breeds. As you can see, I like to draw fun animals in kits. I worked hard on those kits but dang, it was so much fun also.

Sometimes I work on collabs with other fabulous designers in our store. Collabing leads to friendships and kits enhanced with more than just my own ideas.

How do you stay motivated or deal with the loss of mojo?

Occasionally, my mojo does run flat. So for a bit I will just scrap, or do more learning in skillshare or on youtube, or get house chores done, go hang with some friends, take walks. My mojo restores itself very quickly. Another favorite trick to restore my mojo is making a layout just grabbing from a variety of kits that I have. You may have noticed I disappeared for a bit by December. Sadly repetitive injuries and mojo are not the same thing and I need to take some serious time off to recover. So maybe in future I should design for 16 hours straight going into DSD???

So I had no season kits for you this December. But when I do kits that are typically repeated yearly I try to keep them fresh with current color trends, maybe try a different style that year or even a different era feel for the kit or perhaps hyper focusing on an area of that season, creating new character scenarios, etc. 

Tell us about your family

I come from a family of amazing artists. I found the niche I like best in designing for digital scrapbookers. You have no idea how proud I feel when you trust in me and buy my kits to create your own memory books. It is truly such an honor. Thank you.

My home life is more relaxed these days. Our daughter has just turned 24 and finished her first year working as an accountant. Many of you have already discovered that I very much scrap with my own kits so you have seen her at many ages in my gallery at SSD. Hubby retired fall of 2020. We have not killed each other. Instead we each do our own stuff that makes us happy and surprisingly (to my mind), retirement for him, works for us. One small thing that brings me never-ending joy are the bird feeders right out the window where I sit and design. Most of the year, I design to the chirping of birds arguing about whose turn it is to grab a seed. I also get to witness the many hijinks of squirrels as they attempt to reach the feeders. Yes, I have learned just how far a squirrel can fall and simply get up and scatter away! I also love to go out on walks/hikes in nature or go spend some time at our Oregon beaches hunting for sand dollars and other interesting shells or rocks along the shore. I live near Portland, Oregon, and Multnomah Falls and the Columbia Gorge are also at our fingertips and make amazing days trips to nature.

I am actually Canadian with the bulk of my family living in and around Toronto. I greatly enjoy visits back ‘home’. Fascinating story about my Nana Bebe who passed several years back now; her family lived in Ukraine. They were coming over to Canada to live when Nana was five.  There was a huge fire in their village and all their possessions were burned and they had to delay their trip by a year. But that is a good thing as they had been planning to travel on the Titanic!

Tracey as a Scrapbooker

Layouts don’t have to have everything in a kit to record your memories. They don’t even have to have flower & foliage clusters. I scrapped this page a few days ago and then attempted to get it all done again in the 15 minutes my screen recording software allowed me. Here is the layout that I first made and below is where I got in 15 minutes of redo. I adore this collection and have several layouts in the store gallery using it.  You can find my personal gallery here.

Here is the original finished layout and a process video. As you can see, with a few more minutes, I added lots more fun stuff to my original layout.  Feel free to play it at a fast speed to watch the fun happen.

Click on the layout to see a video of Tracey creating a layout with her kit Cacti & Red Rocks.

Here are some other scrapping tricks and tips from Tracey:

Simple tricks to try when scrapbooking in Photoshop (these may or may not work in Elements):

First we will play with label and frame sizes and proportions. Just use a little common sense when you choose what frames to use because this obviously will not work with ornate frames.

And here’s 3 more quick tips about framing a photo in Photoshop.


Now how about some inspiration with the new Featured Designer kit Monet from the SugarBabes:


Aren’t they gorgeous???  That’s it for today, come back next week to see which 15 products Tracey has chosen to put on sale for her Featured Designer 15 sale starting on February 6th.  Until then, keep on scrapping!

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