Updated: May 2019

How long have you kept a journal?

I started keeping a purely written journal consistently from around 2000. I started art journaling in 2009.

What type of journal do you use?

It depends! Recently I have been working in a small Moleskine and journals I’ve received from Well Inked Box. Sometimes I make my own out of cardboard and scrap paper. In the past I’ve enjoyed using Ryman’s A6 Soft Cover Sketchbook and Crawford & Black’s A4 Hardback Sketch Pad (both only available in the UK, as far as I’m aware).

What journal should I buy? Are Moleskines the best for art journaling?

I used to be really skeptical about Moleskines. There are so many different types, they can be expensive, and not all are good for the kind of art journaling I do. If you are just starting out I would recommend buying a cheaper alternative. From personal experience, I find more pressure is put on the more expensive the journal! In an inexpensive journal, I feel I have more freedom to make a mess and not always get things “right”.

That being said, if you feel like the money doesn’t matter or you don’t get easily intimidated, I do recommend the Moleskine Art Plus Sketchbooks. I have found them to be great for heavy layers, I don’t need to double up pages or remove any, and have had no ink/paint bleed-through. Other than that, I think it’s just trial and error to find a journal you love to use!

What art supplies do you use? What brand of _____ do you use?

As of May 2019: I receive Well Inked Box every quarter, so I use whatever comes with the boxes; Posca paint markers; Faber Castell Pitt Artist pens (B); any acrylic paint I have around, although I do tend to prefer Liquitex; Elmer’s school glue; whatever pens and pencils that are lying around; collage material; found items and ephemera.

Where do you get the images/clippings for your art journals?

I get them from anything I can get my hands on! I try not to spend much money and tend to use a lot of free stuff. Some sources – free newspapers and magazines I pick up at book fairs or generally out and about; family members donate used magazines to me; books/magazines from thrift stores; junk mail and clothing catalogs; and I occasionally buy magazines if I’m low on material – usually I’ll pick up a National Geographic and/or a fashion magazine that looks like it’ll have some interesting images.

In short: I rarely buy anything fancy, I generally just pick up free stuff when I can and use whatever I find in my mail box.

What should I buy to start an art journal? How do I art journal on a limited budget?

I’m a great believer that you don’t need a lot of materials/fancy stuff for art journaling, whether you’re starting out or not. I definitely recommend not buying expensive items to start off with, especially if you are figuring out your style. I would say you only need a pencil, a good pen, eraser, some cheap paints (I prefer acrylics, but whatever you prefer), colored markers, and some collage material/glue.

You can totally keep a great art journal with minimal supplies. For example, in 2015 I made a scrap paper travel journal out of a cereal box and duct tape, and only took a couple of pens and some tape with me. Combining sketching, writing, and ephemera picked up on the way (free maps and leaflets, tickets, packaging, tea packets, postcards, etc.) you can make some interesting looking pages! It’s always good to remember that there are no rules when it comes to art journaling, so you can use just about anything you’d like! You don’t have to spend a fortune – and you can always buy better quality materials at a later date!

I don’t know what to do in my journal. Do you have any tips?

It depends on your style, but here are a few things I do if I’m trying to warm up or get inspiration:

Listen to music and make a page about a certain song or how it makes you feel; how are you feeling right now? Try to get it down on paper in some way; write about or draw a dream you recently had; experiment with art supplies without thinking too much about it; draw what’s around you; take photos of yourself and draw them; try blind contour drawings – it’s good practice; make collages; make a page about what happened today; make a page entirely out of junk mail.

I’m not artistic! How do you get your journal to be so colorful and artsy?

To be honest, I’m not sure how it happens. I always want my journals to be darker (in terms of color and sometimes content) but somehow they end up being pretty vibrant!

When it comes to being colorful, I think the key is just to keep experimenting with different colors and media, and eventually it will come together as you want it to. When I first started art journaling I did some free online courses just to experiment and try out some different styles. Connie Solera of Dirty Footprints Studios (who also has very colorful journals) has a couple of free courses which promote fearless art journaling: Free Resources. Teesha Moore also has vibrant journals and offers some video tutorials on her website.

When it comes to being “artsy”, I recommend just drawing in your journals even if you don’t think you’re “good” or “artistic”. You’re not obligated to show anyone if you’re not happy with how pages turn out, and you will get better with practice!

If you’re not into drawing, you could stick photographs into your journal to add artsy images. I also think that torn paper collages are an easy way to make journal pages colourful and artsy – you can find a great how-to here.

I also highly recommend this masterpost, which has 60+ ideas of things to do in your journal. I like that she reminds people all the way through to not worry about whether what they are doing is “good” or not; it definitely helps to remember that!

How do you stop journals from falling apart?

That’s something I’ve struggled with over the years! Lots of my older (hard cover) journals are falling apart and are currently being held together by hair ties or elastic bands. Soft cover journals are better for the kind of journaling I do, as they’re more flexible – although I’ve broken a few of those too!

I’ve learned that removing pages helps and, this might be obvious but, stopping when it’s getting too bulky. There have been many times where a journal has been about to break and I think adding one more thing will be fine… only for it to break soon after. I also sometimes reinforce journals with a simple pamphlet stitch or make my own journals with enough room for them not to get too bulky.

How do you keep up your constant journaling?

I don’t! It’s really tough to constantly journal. I have days when I have no inspiration, feel too tired to do anything, etc. I think it’s important to remember it’s fine to take breaks and not force it if you’re not in the mood – it should be fun, not something that burns you out!

How can I work in my journal every day?

Like I said, it’s not easy to journal every day. However, if you want to try it, something that I’ve done in the past to get me “warmed up” creatively or allowed me to do something every day was Morning Collages. I basically take a stack of magazines, put ten minutes on a timer, flick through the magazines and rip out anything that instantly appeals to me during that time period. After ten minutes, I have to create a collage out of the pages I ripped out. It’s a fun exercise and doesn’t necessarily have to be done in the morning. However, don’t feel bad if you can’t work in your journal every day! It’s not easy and it’s not for everyone!

What are your daily inspirations?

Everyday life, conversations, dreams, music, lyrics, my own feelings, current affairs, shows and events I’ve been to, thoughts I’ve had during the day – even mundane ones!

How can I stop tearing pages out of my journal?

When it comes to keeping an art journal I think the best thing to remember is that there are no rules and it’s absolutely okay to make “mistakes” (I find they make pages more interesting anyway)! Try not to put pressure on yourself to make “perfect” pages and just have fun exploring your own art journaling style. It took me a while to be happy with what I create… and I still have days where I don’t like how pages turn out.

If you really can’t stand to have the “mistakes” in your journal, instead of tearing out the pages, try covering the pages (or parts of the pages) up and attempt it again until you’re happy. I think it’s kind of cool to have a secret layer that no one gets to see underneath the finished page, and I do it a lot. Gesso (which comes in a variety of colors) is very good at covering up pages. Acrylic paint and collaging is another good way to layer pages.

What’s the difference between a journal and a diary? Does blogging count as journaling?

I don’t think there’s any difference between a journal and a diary, they are both defined as records of events and experiences of a personal nature – it just depends on what you prefer! I only call mine journals because “art journal” is the most common term for my style. I called them diaries up until I discovered art journaling.

I think blogging counts as journaling, I have definitely done that in the past… I’ve had accounts on LiveJournal, GreatestJournal, and OpenDiary. I dabbled a bit on Tumblr too, but ultimately I preferred to work on paper. There’s no right or wrong way to keep a journal/diary, though!

I want to take part in For the Record, but I don’t like to post my journal online, can I still participate?

Of course! There is no obligation to share your journal pages if you are uncomfortable doing so.

Are you in art school or have you ever been to art school?

Nope, I have never been to art school and I don’t plan to go to art school in the future. I’m a qualified Archivist by day and a self-taught hobby artist the rest of the time!