Art Journals

Table of Contents

What is an Art Journal?

An art journal is any type of journal, diary or sketchbook used by any type of creative or artistic person.  An art journal may capture or record a specific event or subject, or it may capture the artist’s life during the time that they are using it.

Art Journal Pages

Often, Art Journals are used as a tool to help the artist cope or deal with an emotional struggle or to explore their own thoughts and feelings as they work through their own creative process, but everyone will (and should!) use their art journal in the way that makes the most sense and “feels right” to them.

Art Journals are frequently very personal, but some artists may share all or a portion of their art journal pages. Art Journals should always feel like a “safe space” where you can share and record your own thoughts.

The words “journal” and “journey” are derived from the same root, the French word, “jour,” which means “day.” The original function of a journal was to record day-to-day living which often included business transactions, weather, nature and travel observations, births, deaths, etc. Later, as the “age of enlightenment” emerged and more and more people had access to education, journals became much more self-conscious, including personal commentary and reflections on social and political issues, events, feelings, and ideas.

30 Day Art Journal Challenge

Art Journals May Contain:
  • drawings, sketches, paintings or illustrations
  • photos
  • words, narratives, stories, lists, poems, lyrics, quotes, diary entries or thoughts
  • book, newspaper or magazine clippings, found objects
  • ideas, brainstorms, plans, dreams, goals, secrets
  • anything else that makes sense to the artist.

30 Day Art Journal Challenge

Art Journal Dos & Don’ts

DO: Choose an Art Journal that you feel a connection to. You’ll be more motivated to work in it. Personalize it by writing your name inside the cover. (You may want to write your phone number or email address inside as well, in case you misplace your Art Journal.)

DO: Carry your Art Journal around with you.  You never know when inspiration will strike.

DO: Dedicate time to spend alone with your Art Journal in a quiet and comfortable place with few distractions.

DO: Allow yourself to break rules. Work out of order if it feels right to you. Skip around the book.  Work on several pages at a time.

DO: Experiment.  Make mistakes.  Try new things.  Vent.  Be honest.  Be open.

girls read comics, too.

DON’T: Feel pressure to make your Art Journal pages look a certain way, or worry about “messing up” a page.  Instead, try to own and accept your “mistakes” or cover them up. You may find that the act of covering up artwork or words that you’re unsatisfied with is a positive feeling, while the act of ripping out a page is a negative one.

DON’T: Worry about choosing a “theme” for your Art Journal.  Instead, allow a theme to evolve, while still giving yourself the freedom to work outside of the theme if the mood strikes.

DON’T: Share your Art Journal with anyone else, unless you feel comfortable doing so.

DON’T: Feel like you need to “finish” the Art Journal or complete every page.  When it’s time to move on to a new Journal, you’ll know.

 Art Journal Pages

Art Journal Supplies

The list below is not meant to be a comprehensive list.  You may use any art, writing or scrapbooking supplies that you like.  You may choose to have a lot of art journal supplies, or may use only one or two.  There is no need to spend a lot of money to get started.  You probably have most of these things already.

Art Journaling Supplies

Here are some of the supplies that I find myself reaching for the most frequently in my own art journal pages:

  • An Art Journal.
    The Journals shown here are my 4” x 6” Wire-Bound Recycled Art Journals, but any type of journal, notebook or sketch book will work.  You’ll want one with a sturdy binding and a paper-weight that will work with your supplies of choice.
  • Writing implements.
    Pencils, Markers, Colored Pencils or whatever you like.  Use the tool that you feel the most comfortable with, to help you write and draw your “stream of consciousness” without being slowed down by your tools. I personally like Sharpies and Prismacolors, but they do tend to bleed a bit on thinner papers.
  • Scissors or an X-acto Blade.
    I use scissors more frequently, but if I’m cutting out illustrations or silhouettes I also like the X-acto craft knives that swivel 360 degrees, to cut out curves and tight corners.
  • Adhesives.
    I like a glue stick, but I’ve also used “Scotch” tape, packing tape, and masking tape throughout my own journal.  Scrapbooking adhesives can also be useful (though I find them to be more expensive.)
  • Paper for collage.
    I keep a stack of 3” x 4” mixed papers next to my desk that I use throughout my book.  Sometimes they’re used as a space for writing, or to cover up mistakes. (This is also a great way to cover up ink or marker that has bled through from the other side of the page!)  PAPERCUTS handmade sells 50 pack of mixed papers, but you can also collect your own.  I especially like to use discarded paper that would be otherwise meant for the trash. It’s amazing how much you can save from the recycling bin once you get in the habit.
    I like to use:

    • Book or magazine pages, illustrations and drop quotes.
    • Scrapbooking Cardstocks or designer patterned papers
    • Maps
    • Pages from old planners or calendars (a great place to find interesting lines and grids!)
    • Vintage ledger papers, sheet music and comic book pages.
    • Security Envelopes.
  • Waxed Paper Sheets.
    Cut a few sheets of waxed paper (the kind you get at the grocery store will work just fine.) just a little bit larger than your Art Journal – place these pages in between your art journal when you have wet ink or paint, to help keep pages from sticking together.  You can re-use these pages over and over!
  • Labels and Stickers.
    Plain old white address labels or fancy ones from the stationery section at any big box store.  You’ll find lots of options with Scrapbooking Supplies, as well, though you may pay a little bit more for them.
  • Ephemera and Found Objects.
    I mentioned a few types of found or repurposed papers above, but I also like adding little spots of interest throughout my Art Journal with random bits of found ephemera, both vintage and modern.  Anything that is flat can be glued into your art journal.
    A few ideas:
    • Postage Stamps
    • Stickers from Produce
    • Tags and Labels from clothes or other product packaging.
    • Dried or Pressed Flowers

PAPERCUTS Handmade Art Journals

PAPERCUTS handmade is my online shop, and Hand-Made Recycled Art Journals are my signature product.


Each one of my unique Art Journals is bound by hand and completely one-of-a-kind. Inside every Art Journal you’ll discover an inspiring mixture of colors, textures and patterns that coordinate with the cover: fifty sheets (100 pages) of vintage and modern paper, re-purposed book pages and authentic ephemera.


Measuring 4.5” x 6”, it’s the perfect size for carrying around every day, so you’ll be ready when inspiration strikes. Blank white pages can be daunting and even prohibitive; the juxtaposition of colors and textures in my Art Journals will provide the ideal canvas to get you started and inspire you, no matter what your creative outlet.

Types of Art Journals

I make three types of Art Journals:


4.5″ x 6″. 100 pages. Each journal features a one-of-a-kind reclaimed vintage book cover and a coordinating mix of new and vintage paper.

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4.5″ x 6″. 100 pages. A sturdy hand-sewn bound journal featuring a mix of reclaimed vintage pages and modern designer papers.



3″ x 4″. 64 pages. A smaller-sized wire-bound journal with a reclaimed vintage book cover featuring an original screen print by Corey Marie.


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