Starting an Art Journal

original post: 02/19/16, edited and reposted: 08/31/17

Art journaling is something I started because I wanted to express my creativity on a more regular basis without having the added stress of having its worth appointed by others. Creativity is something that I've felt I wasn't able to use actively and freely in my work or school life especially being in a field that is not directly linked to the art, music, or theatre world. It's something that I've struggled with for a while, because I love expressing my creativity through design, fashion, and writing when I can but felt that "I never had the chance to." Then I realized, I can create my own moments to express creativity.

I was inspired and encouraged the most by one of my dear friends who collages as part of her self-care (and is damn good at it! Not that there should be any judgement because the act of doing it is enough, but I ain't gon' lie about someone's mad skills). I also have an artist friend who curates a lot of dope collages for more than a hobby. She recommended me this book called: No Excuses Art Journaling: Making Time for Creativity. It illustrates a lot of different ideas for short spurts of creativity and art-journaling throughout a busy day which fits perfectly for my hectic lifestyle. If I had to sum up what art journaling is in a nutshell, I'd say it's the product of if a planner, collage/sketchbook, and to-do list all had a baby together and emotional fairy dust was sprinkled everywhere. Or in simpler terms you could say it's kind of like an emotional planner. If you're someone who likes to express creativity in a visual way I would definitely encourage you to explore different ways you can make that happen reguarly, since like I mentioned before not all of us are in professions that allow us to use our creativity freely. It would be a shame to let your creativty go to waste! You don't even have to "be artsy" to start one, whatever that means. Just like a regular journal, the only person who is intended to see it is you (unless you choose to share).

*Sidenote: I've shared some photos of some pages from my personal art journal, and I've made a step-by-step guide on how I usually work on mine. I do a little of everything depending on the day and how much I have time for. Obviously there are different methods and styles to this. So tweak it how you like it, and you'll eventually figure out how you like to create your own pages!


  1. journal (preferably with thick paper and blank unlined pages)
  2. scissors
  3. magazines, newspapers
  4. scraps from day-to-day (i.e. receipts, ticket stubs, candy wrappers, etc)
  5. washi tape, stickers, and/or colored paper
  6. glue or tape
  7. markers, pens, paint, other medium
  8. ruler (if you're into that)
  9. basically a variety of cool and different looking 2D things you can stick in your journal


1.  Think about what you want to express (example: I just had a lethargic day at home but have a lot of thoughts going around in my head, I hate work, I had a thoughtful date, etc )

2. Go through magazines and cut out pictures that stand out to you. (This part is pretty therapeutic in my opinion). It doesn't matter if you actually use them for the current page; just be open to it. Try not to focus so much on what the aesthetic is going to be, you will figure it out in later steps.

3. From the magazine cut-outs, pick some that you think "paint a picture" or they appropriately reflect how you're feeling at the moment.

4. Clean up the edges if you want. Compile any candy wrappers or thingamajigs that you also want to add to the page.

5. Arrange all of the individual elements onto a sheet (or sheets) in your journal, keeping in mind that white space is fine and actually perfect for later to jot down thoughts/ideas/feelings/literally anything you want. 

6. Glue or tape the items down. Going with an example from step 1- I had a thoughtful date, it could look something like:  


7. Write where there's space - or really wherever/whatever the eff you want! Most of the time I like to date the pages in different ways. 

8. Allow yourself to feel some type of way that you created something, especially something that may have even changed your mindset or given you a feeling of release!