I began art journaling back in 2012, right around the same time I began scrapbooking. I started out collaging in an old spiral planner I had and experimenting in a thin Moleskin I had. Eventually I found the Ning Art Journaling community and a few art journalers that I liked (unfortunately, none of them have their blogs still up except Natty Malik), but I pretty much just dove right in on my own.
There’s no right or wrong way to begin art journaling. You just have to begin. All you really need is a journal and a pen. But if you’re interested in delving deep into the craft, here are a few basic starter tips you might like to know.
Choosing your journal
Like the name entails, most people art journal in a journal. But what type of journal is left entirely up to you. A lot of people use Moleskins or other similar type of journals, and others make their own journal. With the popularity of bullet journals and traveler’s notebooks, art journaling has taken many forms, but the practice is all the same: keeping a record of your thoughts and feelings in a creative art form sort of way.
So really, there is no set type of journal you can use as an art journal. But when choosing one, consider the following: size, binding, and handmade vs. store bought.
Always choose a journal that you really like the size and feel of. There’s nothing worse than having a journal that’s either too big for your liking or too small. You’ll hate it and hate journaling in it. So take some time a consider the size you prefer before you set on just any ol’ journal.
The same goes for the binding of your journal. Do you prefer a bound journal or a spiral? How about keeping a binder art journal so that you can work on loose sheets of paper? Maybe you prefer a small pamphlet journal so you can fill one up faster? Try to consider your preference. It can be difficult, especially when you haven’t begun art journaling yet, but settle on one and if it doesn’t work, that’s an opportunity to experiment until you find what you like best.
I personally find that most art journalers prefer to make their own art journals. I know while I enjoy working in an A5 Peter Pauper Press grid notebook, I’ve been creating my own journals lately from different types of papers and have really made my last few journals entirely my own. Again, the more you get into art journaling, the clearer your process of choosing a journal will become.
gathering your supplies
Find and gather those materials that speak to you. As I mentioned before, all you really need is a journal and a pen. But if you want to add color, gather markers, crayons, colored pencils or paints. You have your choice of pastels, watercolors, or acrylics. Or maybe you prefer using found images from magazines or books. I find that collaging is the easiest way to get into art journaling. Snip and stick pieces down. You can use magazine images, old book pages, tissue paper, wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper, paper doilies, and other random bits of ephemera you can get your hands on. The options are endless.
I personally find that my scrapbooking sometimes crosses over into my art journaling. My art journals are very heavily on the collage. For me, it’s the quickest, easiest, no mess way to art journal. I do love using my paints and mediums and such as well, but for the most part, collage is my go-to technique. So I tend to use a lot of paper materials from my scrapbooking stash. Besides the paper, I like using the die cut ephemera pieces and the stickers that you can find in most scrapbook collections. Again, there’s not right or wrong way to art journal, so the same can be said about the materials you use. Just find what works for you.
Finding inspiration + community
One huge thing that has made me fall even more in love with art journaling is finding a community of artists to share in the hobby and passion. Today, it’s much easier to find your art tribe online through Instagram. A quick look through the art journaling tags and you’re set. But I’ve always loved a more intimate group of people and while the Ning Art Journaling community was a great start for me, I found it a bit intimidating because it was so big. Nowadays, I’m in the Get Messy Art Journal* community, which is way more my taste. It’s not a big (yet) and the site is a bit more streamlined and intuitive. Of course, you have to pay to join Get Messy, whereas the Ning group is free to join, but I personally feel so at home with Get Messy that it’s worth every penny. Not only do you get the community, but Get Messy is home to tons of inspiring tutorials and online classes for you to expand your own art journaling. Plus, the community is so amazing and encouraging. You won’t find a kinder group of artist anywhere else.
Finding your community can be hard, but both Get Messy and the Ning group are great starts for cultivating that online community. Both Instagram and Pinterest are great resources for finding tons of journal inspiration. Youtube is also excellent for find art journaling process videos, tutorials and tips. With the internet so advanced these days, there is absolutely no shortage of inspiration online. You just have to take the time to find it. Once you do, you’ll be on your way to begin art journaling.