Why Have More Than One Journal?

Note: The video for “Art Haul 1: Challenge” is taking approximately 5 hours to upload (really?!) so I’m sharing this post with you today instead. Please forgive the tardiness of that upcoming post. 

In this post I’ll be answering the questions: Why would you keep more than one art journal? How would they differ from one another? Should you keep two or more art journals? I personally do not have a lot of art journals going at a time, but I don have more than one. There are two art journals that I work in on a usual basis: 1) my daily-art journal, and 2) my art-art journal. (No, that wasn’t a typo.) My daily-art journal has no rules and doesn’t need to be so much of an art journal as a journal that contains art. My art-art journal has spreads that are mostly cohesive works including lines from poetry I’ve written, allusions to philosophical ideas, or just silly doodles that I’ve wanted to expand upon. My daily journal is more personal, where as my second art journal is a book wherein I can happily share every page.


As an art journaler, one problem I’ve encountered is having curious friends who ask to see my pages. I don’t mind sharing most of the time, but every now and again it can cause anxiety. I have silly and embarrassing thoughts just like everyone else, but I can use my daily journal to allow these thoughts to be processed instead of bottling them up. Interested friends and acquaintances sometimes want to see my art, but it can be a nerve wracking situation when that art is on the same page as my personal thoughts. Having a second book filled with vaguer entries gives me something I can share without being self conscious.


With my art-art journal, I can master techniques or designs I’ve created in my daily journal, and its also great for when I’m taking an art class. The classes I enjoy taking are often filled with prompts, but I like to keep my first journal filled with more original and personal concepts. Sometimes a prompt that requires me to follow strict directions can make me feel like I’m being dishonest, as though I’m claiming an idea that isn’t mine. My daily-art journal is chronological, but my art-art journal is not. Because my second journal has no time constraint per page, I can go back and alter a page I’ve used for a prompt. This allows for me to continue with the chronological integrity that I’ve built in my daily journals.

I’ve read many art blogs, and it seems like most artists keep more than one journal. The usual explanation is that it allows for an avid journaler to constantly be working in a book…even if paint is drying on the pages of a different spread. I’ve also see journals that are themed, forcing an artist to use multiple books for different concepts. I’ve never been the kind of girl that could focus enough to fill an entire book with a single theme. However, I use books with 100’s of pages instead of just 10’s, which is what most themed journals seem to consist of.


Starting out, I would suggest just one one journal for a newbie, but having two or more is something to try after becoming comfortable with the art form. It allows for your inner perfectionist to take over one book, while also providing you with a space to have more freedom for “ugly art.” If you are the type of person who thinks a short themed journal would be a more comfortable space to work in, by all means: do it! Just try to pick broader themes that you’ll be able to work in from start-to-finish without running out of ideas.

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