In the type of art known as art journaling, imperfection {or perhaps a lack of concern about perfection} is part of the process. You can keep an art journal without in-depth knowledge of composition or color theory or formal study of art. Art journaling is play, exploration & experimentation wrapped into one. It's about doing an unstructured form of art in a bound journal, on loose paper, even a cardboard box.

The term art journaling means something different to each artist. For example, there are art journals, artist's books, illustrated journals, urban sketchbooks, visual journals... journals for testing art materials, for practicing a technique, for nature sketching, figurative drawing, pattern design... collaged ephemera, mixed media painting, lettering practice, bullet journals, daily diaries and leather-bound planners with darling Miss Kitty stickers. 

The good news? You do not need a kit, a coach, a lesson or a guidebook but you do need to discover {or rediscover} your sense of fun! It's not magic, really.

Art journaling is not all about the art

Journalists love to pull together collage elements, words & images on paper, whether that’s loose paper, a bound journal or even a cardboard cereal box. The goal is to do the work, to follow the path, no matter where it winds up. When you open your art journal, you get to play like a little kid again, using paint, imagery, typography, even some invisible pixie dust. 

Focus on the process rather than the end result

Mixed media art journaling typically includes words, imagery & color. But, and this is important, there are no rules that you must follow. So you can do a page with any combination thereof. Just paint,  just imagery, even just words. Or skip the words, incorporate words as texture or write your deepest thoughts. That's up to you. 

An art journal page created with paper ephemera and Neocolor wax crayons. 

An art journal page created with paper ephemera and Neocolor wax crayons. 

"Art journaling is about the creative process
of pulling together color, words and images
as you wish on a page. Unlike many other
forms of art, it is not about the outcome." 
Tammy Garcia

1. Explore creative prompts

Prompts can be used literally, figuratively, specifically, sarcastically, intelligently, paradoxically, ridiculously, logically, magically or any other adverbish manner. 

The newest series of prompts here at Daisy Yellow are the Wonder31 prompts. These prompts, as well as the Muse30 prompts, are open-ended prompts of a word or phrase that you can interpret in your journal, on loose paper, on an index card, etc. Prompt60 have a little more structure, generally an idea or technique to try in your journal. Creative prompts can be integral to the creative process - especially when you need an extra nudge to get on track - they change the way that we approach our work. Prompts are starting points, a way to break through hesitation & fear of the blank page. 

You do not need a kit, a coach, a lesson or a guidebook but you do need to discover {or rediscover} your sense of fun! And so it follows that whether you are middle school teacher, professional artist, chemical engineer or a tax accountant, you can be an art journalist too.

2. Gather art materials

To learn about paint, paper, brushes, adhesives, scissors & all of the materials used in art journaling, go to Art Journaling 102: Materials for Art Journaling. It's a GINORMOUS post about the materials we love!

Through 8 years of research, experimentation, working with art materials and trial & error, I've narrowed down my art journaling materials to a small set of go-to items. 

3. Collect quirky papers, ephemera & journal fodder

Think of this as "all of those quirky papers that you find intensely fascinating." Art journalists collect papers found in everyday life and then use them as fodder {ingredients} in their journals. Ephemera can be taped, stitched, clipped, glued, stapled, tucked, folded and otherwise attached to your journal pages. 

Things to collect for your journal: Ticket stubs, museum maps, pages from old textbooks, receipts, product packaging, clothing labels, photographs, vintage postcards, lottery tickets, polaroid photos, postage stamps, raffle tickets, hand-written lists, old greeting cards, subway maps, airline tickets, event announcements, advertisements, maps, ribbon, fabric, tarot cards and images cut from magazines. 

An art journal page created with acrylic paint and collage. 

An art journal page created with acrylic paint and collage. 

Check out Art Journaling 102: paper & journals for art journaling

4. Explore art journaling tutorials


Check out Art Journaling 102: Art Journaling Materials 

Original post 2008, updated February 2017. The Amazon links are affiliate links; if you purchase through these links Daisy Yellow may receive a tiny percentage of the purchase in certain situations. This helps support the free content at Daisy Yellow.