If you’re into journaling, then you’ve undoubtedly seen art journals in the form of lovely, aesthetic spreads on Instagram and Pinterest, ones that look too good to be real. Starting one sounds like a great idea, but people who think they’re not “artistic enough” often get disheartened by all these pretty posts on social media. But you don’t have to be an artist to start your own art journal! All you have to be, as cliché as it sounds, is you.
This is because art is a form of self expression that people utilize when no other means of expression is sufficient—and that’s all there is to it. Whether it’s beautiful or not is subjective. The standards set by us or others are of no consequence, especially if we’re talking about keeping one for your own personal benefit. After all, it’s a personal art journal, and unless you’re doing it for the Internet’s viewing pleasure, the most important thing about this type of journal is that you’re able to express yourself.
But what kind of art journal should you try? Here are some start-up ideas so you can finally begin your art journaling journey—even if you’re not an artist!
The main purpose of a scrapbook is to have a place to artfully store memories, which can be an amazing art journal theme! The beauty of this is that anything goes: whether you’d like to draw, paint, doodle or do a collage, among other things, is entirely up to you. But don’t forget the main highlight of your scrapbook: items that relate to the memories you’re trying to preserve. Whether they’re photos, tickets, or even receipts, store them in your journal along with other decorative things like ephemera.
If you want a casethat can keep your memories safe for a long time, then our Field Journal has you covered—no pun intended! It’s made of waxed canvas to resist water and abrasion, is double-stitched and bartracked where possible, and has an aircraft-grade aluminum hook to keep everything locked in. Your scrapbook will be safe and sound!
2. Junk Journal
As one of the more popular art journals out there, the great thing about a junk journal is the flexibility you have over the materials you can use for it, mostly recycled or “found” materials, a lot of which you already have lying around at home. It can be old books or pages from a damaged one, newsprints/newspapers, magazines, old photos, and other ephemera you can create yourself, again using what’s available to you. From there, it’s all about putting everything together to create a journal that only has to make sense to you.
Junk journals borrow a lot of the concepts from scrapbooking, so a many people end up turning their art journal into a collection of precious memories. Obviously that’s not the only use there is the same way a regular journal isn’t just a diary: do what you will with your junk journal and simply let your thoughts and emotions manifest into creative spreads that don’t require a lot of words—unless you want to mix some in, of course!
The Field Journal has flaps and pockets where you can store and keep your ephemera safe so that you can bring it anywhere with you. You’ll never know when you’re going to need them, so why not have them handy?
Field Journal Refill
3. Travel Journal
Local or international, if you’re the type of person who likes visiting new places, then a travel-themed art journal will work wonderfully for you! And while it’s easy to simply buy a pre-made souvenir to have something you can remember these places by, wouldn’t it be amazing to create your own in the form of a journal entry? Draw and doodle on a spread, add things like photos and tickets, and watch the pages turn into a physical manifestation of the amazing memories you made during your trip!
Want something easy to carry around while you’re on vacation? Then the Pocket Journal is for you. It’s super portable and has interior pockets for your passport, credit/debit cards, or a second refill. The exterior pockets can also hold pens and tools.
With so many art mediums to try, watercolors can be a less intimidating option to start with. It’s easy and affordable, and while you can buy the best of the best (which of course makes it more expensive) watercolor paints right off the bat, you don’t really have to—not yet at least. Unlike other mediums, you need only a few supplies and you’re good to go: just watercolor paints in a variety of colors, a nice brush, and you’re all set! Other supplies, especially if you’re already a journaler, you probably already have: markers, pens, and the like.
We don’t want to forget the paper too, of course: our Plain refills for both the Field Journal and Pocket Journal hold up to water well. Even our founder, Chris Elfering, uses our refills for watercoloring—you can check out what’s in his travel art kit here.
What other ideas do you have in mind for your first (or tenth) art journal? Is there a certain medium that you’d like to try? We'd love to hear your thoughts! Whichever you end up with, we hope that you don’t forget that keeping and maintaining an art journal is all about being able to express yourself creatively. You can make it beautiful based on certain standards of course—but first and foremost, let art journaling be a means of self-expression.