For the Record: Morgan Hess

Welcome to the return of For the Record! For those unfamiliar with the original series from 2015, For the Record is an ongoing interview series with all types of journal keepers. It aims to explore the different ways you can approach journaling, showcase an array of work, and emphasize there is no “wrong” or “right” way to journal. I’m very pleased to share the first interview in the new series with Morgan Hess.

About Morgan

My name is Morgan (she/her). While I study and work in neuroscience, art has always been more than a hobby to me. There’s a strong disconnect between science and art. When I started posting my art online, I was encouraged by my peers in neuroscience to use an alias, to only use my real name for research publications, but I refused. I am a multi-faceted person and I will not hide my art in order to be taken more seriously in my scientific endeavors.

1. Describe the type of journal you keep and your journal style.

I keep a small sketchbook to work in. Sometimes my journals are themed, for example, my last journal was primarily filled with plants and fungi. Most pages of my journals have quotes on them as well.

2. How long have you been a journal-keeper?

I started journaling in college, mostly because I didn’t have time for “real” art. It was about halfway through my second sketchbook that my girlfriend convinced me to start posting the sketches online. She convinced me that the art being in a journal doesn’t make it any less “real” than if it were a stand-alone piece.

Art journal spread by Morgan Hess

3. It took me a while to be convinced of that too. I’m glad we both realized that art in a journal doesn’t make it any less “real”! What are the reasons you keep a journal?

If I didn’t make art I’d go crazy. Art is how I cope, vent, celebrate, relax. It is a way to express myself. I like journals because they keep everything together. It’s one big art piece as well as dozens of little ones. I also enjoy journaling because I don’t take it as seriously. If I mess up it’s no big deal. I can cover it up, transform it, work with it, or even cut it out. There’s no pressure.

4. I love the idea that journaling is one big art piece as well as dozens of small ones – I hadn’t thought about it like that before. How often do you work in your journal?

I work in my journal pretty much everyday. It was my New Year’s resolution to draw everyday, even if it’s just a couple of marks on the page.

Art journal spread by Morgan Hess

5. Do you work in multiple journals or do you stick to one at a time?

I work in one at a time.

6. What are your favorite supplies to work with?

I love drawing with ballpoint pens and colored pencils. I love control, and that manifests in my art.

Art journal spread by Morgan Hess

7. What inspires you?

I get inspired by nature, quotes, music, books, people, anything really. I try to find beauty in every aspect of my life.

8. Do you use journal entries as a basis to create other work?

No, but I do sometimes play off the themes or quotes in an older page and make small connections throughout the journal.

Art journal spread by Morgan Hess

9. What are your thoughts on destroying journals?

I would never destroy my journals, but when they’re done I don’t do much with them. I don’t look back very often; I prefer constantly moving forward and transforming.

10. Thank you so much for answering these questions! Where else can we find you and your work online?

My Instagram is @morganhessart, my website is morganhessart.com and my Tumblr is also morganhessart (as you can see, I am very creative with the naming process).

Interested in being interviewed for For the Record? Get in touch!

Making Peace With the Past: Taking My Time

My main project for 2018 is recycling painful past journal entries to create new art and make peace with the past.

I started keeping journals in the summer of 2000, just after turning 13. My first attempt at journaling was quite cute, really. It stemmed from boredom at having to be dragged around the country watching my younger brother play cricket. I was still slightly too young to stay home alone, so 3-4 times during the summer holidays we would stay in hotels for 2 or 3 nights at a time and visit different cricket grounds around Wales and England. To amuse myself, I would provide a running commentary of our travels while writing about my favorite things (namely The Offspring, my cuddly toys, wrestling, and boys – it was a simpler time) and also fill the book with little doodles – I was sort of art journaling before I even knew the term!

July 21, 2000 – An excerpt from the original first entry in my first ever journal

I decided to start this project with the journal from 2000 not only because it made sense chronologically, but because I thought it would be an easy one to deal with. I was barely a teenager and my writing was still very upbeat and optimistic (even though I was bored and hated not being at home on the computer!). However, I still found it difficult to start this process.

July 23, 2000 – A drawing of a school near the cricket ground my brother was playing at

It took me two weeks to finish the first spread, which was frustrating to me. During my Year of Creative Habits project last year, I got in the habit of making journal pages quickly and often. I think this is going to be a good lesson in slowing everything down and taking my time. I will have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t something I can just finish in a day, week, or even a month. Just because I am able to complete pages quickly, it doesn’t mean I necessarily should. I want to make sure I do this right and in a way that I won’t regret later.

I made the decision to do my best to preserve any art I made or ephemera I kept from the time. I am also keeping a note of anything I think might be important for me to remember, with the rest being torn up and covered over. Here is how the first spread turned out:

The page turned out messier and busier than I would have liked, but I think it was because I started pushing paint around in frustration. I wanted to start but I didn’t know how. Slapping paint on haphazardly meant I was at least doing something with it.

I was tempted to update the doodle and make it bolder/better, but ultimately thought it was better to keep it the way it was drawn the first time. I think it gives that part of the page a dreamy, “in the past” look. I also kept the Offspring clip art I was so proud of!

Hopefully now that I’ve made one page, it won’t be so difficult to carry on… but I’m also allowing myself to slow down and take as much time as I need.

Awesome Ladies Project Creative Team

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I am incredibly happy and excited to say that I will be on the Awesome Ladies Project Creative Team 2017/18! I’m part of an amazing team of women who will be creating projects for the Monthly Storytelling Workshops and working with the Awesome Ladies line of products which debut next month! I cannot wait to get started and to get to know more of the Awesome Ladies!