In simplest terms, an art journal is a journal in which you can combine words, drawings, paint, and art to express yourself. That’s it. There are no rules in art journaling, so you are completely free to do whatever you want. Make a page a mess, rant about your feelings, sketch until you heart is content, or even finger paint like a little kid is totally acceptable.
As for me, I use mine to get out feelings that…might not be the prettiest, but when I put them on a page in my journal, I can make even the bad beautiful.
Now, I can’t lie, it took me a few tries to get this one right. I’ve gone through four different journals before I found one that fit me, one that was the right size, had the right feel, and the pages were perfect. In my opinion, I think it’s beneficial for everyone to have some sort of journal, I just ended up on an art one instead of a diary format. Why? Because I went through so many failed diaries growing up. I just didn’t have the patience to write that much. (Ironic, right?) But doodling, painting, and making a mess…now that’s more me.
You might be thinking, but Haley, I’m not artistic! I can’t do that! Yes, you can. I promise. You don’t have to be the next Picasso to start one, and truthfully, if you slap enough different paints and textures on a page, it typically turns out pretty cool.
Anyway, sorry for the longwinded post, but here are 10 things you should know about art journaling before you (inevitably) start one.
1. An art journal will become addicting. Fast.
Now, I know I told you that starting an art journal would be a good idea, and I stand by that statement. Just know that once you start, there is a very high probability that you won’t be able to stop. Your first page might end up being hours of work and then you’ll stop for a few days. Or maybe not. You might be back to do another page at 2 a.m. that morning because you can’t sleep. This is your warning. Make your decision wisely. If you have an exam next week, you probably shouldn’t start an art journal now.
2. There are four different branches of art journals.
Some people might not think these four are related, but I think they are similar enough, cousins at least. The first is, well, obviously, an art journal. This one, in my opinion, is more focused on doodling and art with words to help balance it out more than the others, but it has no requirement for how often you use it. The second is an art diary, where the same focuses apply, but you are expected to use it almost everyday and (typically) put the date on every page.The third, visual journals, are used to sketch out thoughts and ideas, but doesn’t need words at all, although there could be some. I also tend to think of these more as books filled with a lot of color and mixed media, but that might just be me. And finally, number four, a smash book. The best way to describe this one is as an “on the go” scrapbook, you use paper and keep mementos in it, but there are no rules and you can make it a beautiful mess, just like you can with any of these other three.
3. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it will be eventually.
While you don’t need to buy the most expensive supplies when you are first starting, your addiction will eventually fuel your desire to own these supplies. Don’t fight it. As you watch more videos on techniques and realize you want your pages to look like the pages in the videos, you will find yourself grabbing your keys to go to Michaels and get all of those supplies. As someone who has gone through this crisis, it’s worth the money. I promise.
4. Be prepared to
waste spend hours on Youtube.
Youtube is one of your best resources as someone who wants to learn more art journal techniques. Just know that your ten minute video break will turn into three hours fast. It’s a trap, so make sure you have plenty of time set aside before you type youtube.com in your browser.
5. You’ll also spend hours in Michaels or Hobby Lobby.
I think this is pretty self explanatory. If you become an art journal addict, you’ll need a place to get all of your supplies. You’ll be in these stores constantly and their aisles can make all your dreams come true. “Whoa. I just spent 4 hours in Michaels.” No shame.
6. Procrastination level: High.
If your procrastination wasn’t yet at an all time high, be prepared. It will be, and fast. Suddenly, the 50 minutes you had set aside to do your Chemistry homework will be used to create pages. Bedtime at midnight? Eh, you can push it back until 2 a.m., you have four pages to finish.
7. Get a heat gun.
Just do it. Pages that used to take 4 hours to dry will now only take 3 minutes, which means your hour that you have to art journal can be much more productive. You’re welcome.
8. You’re in good company.
Artists like van Gogh, DaVinci, and Picasso all kept some sort of art journal or idea book to keep their imperfect thoughts protected from others before they were ready to be shown to the public. So, in a way, if you choose to art journal, you get to join an elite club with Picasso. Pretty cool, right?
9. Art journals help relieve stress.
When you art journal, you get to let out thoughts that might cause stress or worry in your life. For the majority of people, letting these thoughts out is therapeutic because then the brain no longer has to focus on those worries. Problem solved. Well, at least until you think of something else to worry about.
10. Art journaling can help train you to silence your inner critic.
We’re trained to judge everything about ourselves. We judge our hair and outfit before we leave, the food we cook, and even if the doodle we made in math class is decent enough to save or if it goes in the garbage as we leave at the bell. Art journaling, while hard at first, gives you the opportunity to silence your inner critic by giving yourself the freedom to be imperfect. The longer you art journal, the easier this skill is to apply to the daunting blank page, and it might even fall over into your life too. Want to wear neon socks to work today? Why not.
Want to start an art journal? Feel free to contact me with any questions you have on how to get started.