Everything About My Art Journal

I recently finished my last art journal and am currently starting a new one, and I thought that now is the best time to do a master post essentially describing my journaling process and covering what exactly it is you are seeing snippets of while looking at sketchbook posts. I'm going to try to explain my journaling process as thoroughly as possible, recommend techniques, materials, and inspiration, and hopefully help you jumpstart (or continue) your journaling to create a more successful, happier life. Because everyone knows that a beautiful journal is the answer to all life's problems! XD

--Before you start, keep this in mind: Your art journaling process may be very different than mine. You may not want to journal the same things. You may think that everything I'm doing is ridiculous. That's great, awesome in fact. Don't let someone else tell you how to art! You do what feels best for YOU! I'm simply posting this to inspire, NOT to instruct. ((also please comment if you have a different technique because I love hearing about people's creative process. ok I'm going to focus now))

So what exactly is an art journal Vivian? To be completely honest with you, my idea of an art journal may be very different or exactly the same or somewhere in between other artist's ideas of an art journal. And that is ok, amazing even. Everyone's artistic process is different. But here is my personal definition of an art journal:

a journal or other paper-holder-type-thing devoted to recording the creative experience of an individual

So as you can see, my definition is pretty open. Here are what go in my personal art journals:

-story/art/writing ideas
-papers that I thought looked cool
-ranting about my life

I sort of consider my art journal my most safe place, a place where I can be completely myself and express myself wholly. I also consider it an ongoing conversation between myself and God, where I'm being honest with myself and sharing it with him. I do this through all sorts of media- drawing, writing, etc.

When you see sketches on my blog, you are seeing a very edited version of my journal- the parts I liked enough (and felt comfortable enough) to share. Obviously, I have a whole lot of crash and burn pieces. And I don't mind (ok I mind a little because artists are perfectionists) because they help me see my growth (however painful it may be).

What your art journal should never ever be:
-Something you judge yourself with
-Something you let other people use to judge you
-Something you feel bad about

Your art journal is YOURS. Treasure it. I like to think of my journal as like an extension of my mind- practically a part of me. This means it holds a LOT of power, and you could really hurt yourself if you try to criticize it. When you start to journal you might not think you are amazing. You might think every page sucks, even for a couple journals. I know I did. I still do sometimes. But in order to grow in your artistic ability, you have to make the conscious decision to not let it stop you. To keep practicing. You WILL get better. You just have to keep doing it.

Where do I start? With an empty journal. I would recommend a Strathmore Mixed Media Sketchbook if you have no idea where to start, as they have fairly heavy paper which can hold all sorts of medias as you experiment and find your niche (if you even decide to have one), plus they are fairly cheap. If you know for sure that you are only going to write song lyrics and tape photos in your art journal, then a pretty lined notebook may be the way to go. Some artists even use planners, either to bullet journal or to do a sketch-a-day type thing. I recommend looking on Pinterest or another site that inspires you to find images of journals that you personally find attractive, and then look at what sorts of journals those artists use.

I also find it very difficult to switch techniques in the middle of a journal, so if you are feeling like your work in the other journal is getting a little stale, start fresh. I always feel a little uncomfortable with my new journal, almost like it's a new house I'm still getting used too. That's normal, and it will go away soon as long as you keep working in it.

Then just START. I've made the mistake of waiting until it felt like the perfect day to start, but the truth is there is never a perfect day. Really, all you need to do is grab a pencil and start scratching. I always get all picky about my first page, so if you are like me you may want to save the first page and start on the second, or tape of photo of something that really inspires you on the first page. I also always put my email and phone number so that someone could contact me if I were (my worst nightmare) to loose it.

What does a typical art journal page look like? My art journal pages usually have the date over any writing, so that I can keep track of when I wrote all this stuff. I try to intersperse drawings with collage with writing, and sometimes I mix them all on one page. But really it just looks like a mess-- albeit a very aesthetic mess.

How do I stay motivated and keep doing it? This can be a really tough obstacle for a lot of people. I struggled with this a lot before I started consistently journaling, and have a lot of half finished journals to show for it. And nothing is more disappointing than an unfinished journal.

My best piece of advice is just to force yourself to do it every day. When I started, I made myself a rule that I couldn't go to bed without writing/drawing SOMETHING. It could be one word, but it had to get on the page. Eventually this turned into less of a discipline more of a priority, until I reached the point where I literally cannot fall asleep without journaling.

What if I'm having artist's block? This sounds harsh but all I can say to you is bummer. It happens. But you can't get through it without doing something to get through it. Just draw, write, paint, etc. until it goes away. You'll be happy you did. If it is really really bad, log onto your Pinterest and look at your art boards, or watch some sketchbook flip throughs on YouTube, or look at other blogger's journals. But be careful, it is super easy to procrastinate with those methods

So there's my journal. I hope this was helpful and inspiring. I would love to hear if you are thinking of starting, or already do, an art journal. I would also love to hear any advice or different techniques you have. I'm always looking for ways to improve my own journaling process. Also, if you have any questions about my journal, or if I left anything out, comment with those too. I would love to answer them!

Thanks guys <3 Keep being awesome!


  1. This is a really nice post, I enjoyed it thoroughly! I'm working on an art journal too but progress is going pretty slow at the moment!


    1. Thank you! I hope this helped, and I wish you luck with journaling!

  2. This is so neat! I love it, I love it, I love it!!!

  3. I LOVE this. I recently bought an art journal and so far have done two pages of watercolor paintings. I am SO excited to keep pursuing this journal of my creative thoughts <3 Thank you so much for this article! It was very insightful and encouraging. I will probably refer back to it every once in a while;)

    1. Aww thanks Raquel! That's so exciting! I'm glad that this post helps you with your journal!

  4. THIS IS SO COOL! I love art jornaling, it's so creative and it can look really cool too :) This article will definitely help me for future references :) Can't wait to read more posts!

    1. Autumn you are too sweet!! I'm so glad I could help!

  5. This is so cool! I've been looking for ideas for my own journal (it's kind of in between an art and bullet journal), so I'll definitely be referring back to this post. <3

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    1. Thanks Ellie! Glad this post could inspire you!

  6. Typically I am a canvas girl, I love the idea of this. Thank you so much for sharing
    All the love
    Hayley xx

    1. Thanks Hayley! And hey- if canvases are your thing then you rock the canvases! I also like painting on canvases, but I find them tricky to store. Thanks for the sweet comment <3

  7. I used to do art journaling when I was younger and had TONNES of journals, most of which are unfinished ':D I still do art journaling occasionally, but since I consider myself more of a portrait artist, I mostly do portraits and self-portraits. I usually use picture references or look in a mirror. When I used to do art journaling everyday as a kid, I literally drew ANYTHING I saw. From people to teddy bears and staplers lol

    Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed it! And don't stop art journaling because you are pretty much amazing!

    x Nicole ᵔᴥᵔ

    1. Thank you so so much Nicole! You don't know how much your compliments mean to me! And your portraits are so cool- I love the ones you post on your blog!

  8. I love your art journal! You are so talented!!!

    1. Thank you so so much! It means a lot <3 <3