How to Start an Art Journal

We all know the benefits of keeping a diary.

Putting our thoughts down on paper in written form can help us get in touch with our emotions, work through difficult days and spark our inspiration.

The same is true for art journaling though it must be said – it is so much more fun than regular journaling!

Keeping an art journal is a beautiful way to express yourself and your creativity, bring colour and playfulness into your life, and even build a portfolio of all your best and most exciting work.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of starting your own art journal, here’s how to go about it.


Wreck this Journal – The Ultimate Introduction into Art Journaling

If you’ve never tried yourself at a mission quite as creative as art journaling, we’ve got the ultimate introduction into the craft for you: namely, Keri Smith’s Wreck this Journal.

Available in most popular bookshops and, of course, Amazon, Wreck this Journal offers a series of creative and bizarre prompts on every page that will inspire you to “wreck” the journal in the most uniquely artistic way possible.

Find the Right Journal, Sketchbook or Diary

Once you’ve wrecked the Keri Smith journal and are ready to go it your own, visit your local stationary store or bookshop and pick a journal, sketchbook or diary that feels right to you.

Think about what kind of tools you’ll be using – i.e. pens, water colours, markers, acrylic paint, etc. – and make sure your journal will be equipped to handle them. If you’re planning on using a lot of heavy body paints or markers, for example, you’ll want to make sure that your journal is made up of thick pages to avoid inks and paints bleeding into the next.

Gather Your Supplies

Sort through your assortment of crafting supplies or go on a shopping trip to your nearest hobby shop to gather materials.

Go with whatever takes your fancy – if you’re in the mood for creating collages, stock up on some mixed media papers; if those sparkly, brightly coloured gel pens are speaking to you, treat yourself!

Use the tools that make your heart squeal with joy and you can rest assured this feeling will translate onto the pages of your art journal.

Create a Space & an Atmosphere

If you’re trying to get your creative juices flowing wedged between a mountain of laundry and a pile of dirty dishes, think again.

The best way to get inspired and to relax into the artistic zone, is by creating a clean, welcoming space and the right atmosphere for yourself. Even if it’s just a small corner of your room – clean it up nicely and create the necessary physical and mental space for you to immerse yourself into your art. Throw on some nice tunes – YouTube’s selection of Lo-Fi Beats works wonders for these types of situations -, light a few candles, take a deep breath and let the colours, doodles, collages, paintings and scribblings flow out of your brain, into your hand and onto the page.

Let Go of Expectations

Don’t let all the images of mind-bogglingly awesome art journals you’ve seen on Pinterest and Instagram cramp your style. In fact, don’t compare your own work to anyone else’s – period.

Art is an extremely personal, intimate expression of one’s self and, as such, you won’t get much out of the craft if you’re continuously looking to imitate others. Let go of all expectations and simply allow yourself to be in the moment.

Your finished work may not look like anything you’ve seen online, but it will be entirely you.

Richard Hammond

I am the founder of 9Mousai and am deeply interested in creativity and what inspires it. My main passions are writing, film and music but I have huge respect for all the arts. I'm also an animal lover and have a little cat called Winston and enjoy the occasional whiskey or two...

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