Make an Art Journal even if you’re “not an artist”

Maybe we don’t even have to call it an art journal. Let’s call it a collage book. an inspiration journal. a mood journal. You name it to suit your needs. I mostly just like the idea of my collection of paper-like things to have a home rather than making me look like a nut that hoards receipts and business cards and chopstick wrappers.

As much as I like to collect sketch books and art supplies, I’m not much of an artist. I’ve not technically trained in any sense but I enjoy looking at art and thinking about art. In middle school I thought I could be an artist by drawing in manga style. Then I got over that and meddled without too much in depth and effort with a few other art projects. Then I gave up on that and started some collage work which I’ve done very sparingly since. But whenever I feel like I want to create something without too much pressure, I’ll start a collage.

I have multiple shoeboxes in which I like to collect my collage-worthy materials. Almost anything can be collage worthy. It’s really a hobby that allows you to trust and develop your instinct. Pay attention to what kind of visuals your eye is attracted to. Some things you’d normally get rid of in order to “clean house” could find a home if you’re particularly attached.

some things I like to use: greeting cards relatives have sent you, old receipts from stores you really enjoyed (write about your experience next to them), chopstick wrappers, takeout menus, pictures from magazines, tickets from movies or concerts, old photos, book marks from junk mail, parts of cool packaging, pieces of ribbon or beads, things you cut out from the paper, notes someone has scrawled.
At flea markets I sometimes buy: old photos, old paper brochures, vintage stationary, old envelopes, pages ripped from books, other people’s postcards, old matchbooks, vintage wrapping paper,etc.

I really encourage you to use things that speak to you, or perhaps have a story that is unknown to you. As you collage more, you’ll develop a style. Maybe try some new things.

Of course, maybe you’d like a reason for doing something like this. I often wonder why artists are motivated to make art. For me, collaging is a bit meditative , like the moving around of things and the cutting and pasting is a good activity of different motions. It feels good to do things, even if they’re tiny. The whole design is in your control. You choose what to put on the page and rearrange until you feel good about it. It’s a page of stories. You can remember where you got each item or why it interested you. A book like this can also serve as a reminder of who you are, or your style. When I open mine I feel comforted by its solidness.

Below are some examples of collage pages I have made. The first journal is one I put together in high school. The second I made and bound in high school, but filled the pages early on in college.

My interest in creating one’s own books or tiny journals really started in high school art when I created and bounded the sketch book below. I’m just beginning to look into the art of handmade books, creating pamphlets, and developing my knowledge of zines.

Do you do any journaling/collaging/arting? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about it or see it.

Thanks for visiting,


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