GUIDE: How to Start An Art Journal

August 19, 2016

create art journal

When you think about the word journal, people often first associate it with the written word. This makes sense, considering most people use journals as a sort of diary or way to keep track of thoughts and special moments in their life. However, that’s just one way to look at journaling. A journal, according to Merriam-Webster is actually a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections that is  kept regularly for private use. When you remove the idea that a journal needs to be a “written” account of your ideas or experiences a whole new concept opens up – the art journal.

An art journal is a daily journal kept by artists, often containing both words and sketches, and occasionally including mixed media elements such as collages. To put it simply, it’s like a tiny scrapbook of your thoughts and ideas. With an art journal, you aren’t limited to finding the perfect word to express your thoughts, but instead you can draw a picture, make a cartoon, paste a memento or showcase a photo. And, it doesn’t need to be in an actual journal either.

If the thought of keeping a visual diary of your thoughts and/or dreams seems enticing, here are a few tips to get you started.

Get A Journal
This can be anything you want to use to save your thoughts. It can be a composition book, a binder filled with pages, an actual journal, even a daily planner can work for this purpose. You may even want to make your own book. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure it’s big enough for the time you want to use it for. You may want to have a new book for each month, for each season of the year, or one book for the entire year.

Gather Supplies
It makes it easier to get started and make sure you are actually journalling when you have supplies that inspire you ready to go. Gather a box or basket and start collecting things that inspire you. Some things you might want to include:

  • Colored pens and pencils
  • Stickers
  • Washi tape
  • Stamps and ink
  • Different types of paper scraps
  • Glue stick and other adhesives
  • Paints and brushes
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Stencils
  • Rub on
  • Tissue paper
  • Magazines
  • Paper items such as greeting cards, postcards, catalogs, etc.
  • Fabric pieces
  • Buttons
  • Embellishments such as paper clips, brads, etc.

Create a Space
You don’t need a dedicated space to do your art journaling, but you do need a designated space. You’ll need a big enough space to spread out your materials and actually apply them to your journal. The real key here is to actually carve out a space for yourself that will make you excited about journalling. You want to create a ritual around your daily (or frequent) journalling practice. This is something to help inspire you, so take the extra effort to make it inspiring.

Make It A Ritual
An art journal is all about the process, and not the end result. You don’t need to show this to anyone. It’s a way to reflect on your thoughts while letting loose your inner creativity. You don’t even need to use it to record your daily life happenings like a typical journal. The point is to create something that helps you feel inspired. To do this, you need to make it a part of your routine. Determine how frequently you want to journal and create a schedule that works for you.

Keep it Fun
Anything you do on a regular basis can lose its luster. What makes an art journal unique is that it can be anything you want it to be. You can create a new journal with a specific theme. You can challenge yourself to use a specific type of medium or media. You can make one for vacation coming up or to journal about a new change in your life. You could dedicate one to a specific holiday or season. You could even use a journal to record things you do from a bucket list. The ideas are endless.

50 Journal Prompts

Speaking of ideas… It makes it a lot easier to start something when you can see what others have done. With this in mind, here are fifty journal prompts to kickstart your creative process.

  1. Something that inspires you
  2. Your favorite quote
  3. Your dream home
  4. Your favorite color
  5. Your favorite book or book characters
  6. Your favorite animal
  7. Your favorite fairytale
  8. Something seasonal
  9. Your favorite flower or a seasonal flower
  10. Your bucket list
  11. Family traditions
  12. Your favorite song lyrics
  13. Words that describe you
  14. Comfort foods
  15. Things you couldn’t live without
  16. Best advice you ever received
  17. Things you want to do
  18. Smiles
  19. Things you need to do
  20. What happiness means to you
  21. What success means to you
  22. What failure means to you
  23. Positive thinking
  24. Childhood memories
  25. If I had ________
  26. Rules of love
  27. Rules of friendship
  28. Rules of life
  29. Dreaming of a world…
  30. Things that annoy you
  31. Things you love
  32. What you are thankful for
  33. Your wish list
  34. All about the weather
  35. Your current mood
  36. The ideal menu
  37. A perfect date
  38. The perfect day
  39. Places you want to visit
  40. Somewhere you have already visited
  41. Your purpose in life
  42. What you were born to do
  43. What greatness means to you
  44. What crazy means to you
  45. Sad songs you love
  46. Your favorite poem
  47. Things you’d rather be doing right now
  48. Rules meant to be broken
  49. Your personal ethics/moral code
  50. A recurring dream you have

Art Journal Inspiration

For even more ideas, take a look at some of our favorite art journal ideas on our Pinterest board.

Follow’s board Art Journal Ideas on Pinterest.

About Jennifer Good

Chief Inspiration Officer and Founder of Inspiration Insider. "You don’t need to wait to make a difference in your own life or the lives of others." - Anne Frank