Beginner’s Guide to Art Journaling

What You Need To Start

There are so many different types of art supplies available to you, but before you overwhelm yourself by trying to amass a collection, its easy to start small and simple. Craft stores can be  a maze to a newbie, and basic office supplies are a great way to begin. It would be a sad waste to buy nice pens and sketchbooks only to realize you’re a watercolor fanatic with no love for sketching.

Supplies Far

Try getting just one or two of each things from this short list:

  1. Book which lays flat, such as a…
    • sketchbook
    • binder that can be filled
    • coffee table book to alter
    • composition or plain notebook
    • Moleskine
  2. A writing utensil, such as a…
    • pencil
    • ballpoint pen
    • permanat marker
    • gel pens
  3. A way to lay down colors, such as…
    • watercolor paints
    • markers
    • acrylic paints
    • spray ink
    • colored pencils
  4. Collage material or paper ephemera, such as…
    • magazine clippings
    • pictures
    • maps
    • movie tickets
    • scrapbook paper
  5. Adhesive, such as…
    • glue sticks
    • washi or clear tape
    • gel-medium
    • ModgePodge

(If you’re looking for a more complete list of supplies, check out my Ultimate Art Supply List.)


How To Get Started

Decide what art styles you love, what colors you’re most drawn to, and what type of imagery you find most interesting. There are so many different ‘types’ of art, such as surreal, abstract, collage, photo realism. Sometimes the easiest way to learn is to copy; as the saying goes: imitation is the highest form of flattery. Just remember to never claim your mimicry as originality!

You should also decide if you want a chronological art journal or a book that you can open randomly and work on. The second option allows for more freedom, especially when you’re short on time or become tired of projects quickly. I have two journals. The first one I use like a diary, giving me the ability to talk about my day juxtaposed with art I’ve created specifically for that entry. My second book  is filled with more vague ideas and random imagery. I especially like having my second book to play in when I’m taking an art class because it may force my entry to go in a direction I would not have chosen myself.

My Desk WHERE spread

Once you’ve decided how you want to create, you should set up a space where you can work. If you don’t have a desk then you can always try the kitchen table, your living room floor, or claim the patio furniture for a few hours! You do not need a studio to make art, but if there is no way for you to have a dedicated surface for working, a big bag for storing supplies is a smart way to organize and move your art goodies.

Upon claiming your art space, choosing your journal page, and deciding what medium you’d like to use, ask yourself what it is that’s occupying your mind. You may want to write about your day and sketch moments from your life. If that sounds unappealing, try thinking of important song lyrics, quotes, or cliches that resonate with you. Remember that being abstract is okay, that not all pages need to have single focus points, and that art is subjective.

(If you’re really struggling to create a page, check out my list of  Art Journal Prompts!)