What is Art Journaling? (and 10 art journaling prompts!)

Journal With or Without Words
by Emmy Hirsch, guest blogger

art journaling
For mixed media art journaling ideas,
find Melissa on etsy

Allen Ginsberg once said, “Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”An art journal is the place to do so. An art journal is a journal in which you combine art and words to express yourself. There are no rules, no critics, no limits: it’s all about your personal self expression. Being a long-standing artistic tradition, art journaling has been used through the centuries by artists to sketch, practice, experiment, and record themselves. Examples of renowned journalists include Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Leonardo da Vinci, all of whom were prolific sketchbook keepers.

A visual journal is created using a variety of techniques. Drawing, sketching, painting, collage, splatter… these are just a few of the infinite possibilities to express yourself while creating interesting and unique pages. Artistically challenged? Stamps, vintage photographs, and magazine cutouts can all make up for the fact that not everyone can draw and paint.

art journaling
Wreck this journal! For more notebooks,
find Mary Lynn on etsy

Artists, inventors, and people in general all have different reasons for keeping journals. The reasons are very personal and individual and could range from experimenting with art techniques and ideas to getting your thoughts and feelings on paper to documenting your life. An art journal feels the need for expression and creativity when words alone just don’t cut it. Plus, it’s just plain old fun.


art journaling
Kathy’s purple, green, and lavender mixed media kit

When keeping an art journal, there is but one requirement: You must say and think, “There are no mistakes.” This is your personalized journal. Make a mess out of it, destroy it, savor in it, and make it your own. Try things you’re too scared to try: this is for your eyes only. Think in terms of light and dark, big and small, smooth and rough, upside down and right-side up… you are your own creative mad genius.

Here are ten prompts to get you started on your art journaling journey:
1. Grab your favorite novel and open to page 87. Read the first paragraph and illustrate it.
2. Imagine your inner critic as a monster. Draw him.
3. Write down some of your favorite quotes or life mantras. Write them over and over again, using different lettering each time.
4. Pick a lyric from your favorite song. Illustrate it.
5. Draw a map from where you are to where you want to be.
6. You open a door. What’s behind it?
7. Find Waldo.
8. Illustrate last night’s dream.
9. You just came back from Paris. We want to hear about it.
10. One word: Breakthrough.

mentioned in this post:  @yellowmelle @inbluehandmade


Emmy Hirsch is an intern at SchulmanArt and will be an incoming freshman at Franklin and Marshall College in the fall of 2013.

Here is a collection of art journal kits, blank journals to write in, art journal tutorials and art journal printable pages!

7 thoughts on “What is Art Journaling? (and 10 art journaling prompts!)”

  1. Thank you so much for featuring my workshop Behind You in your blog post! Love your blog, looking forward to stopping by more often and enjoying all of your lovely posts! Jodi Ohl

  2. Thank you so much for mentioning my crackle finish tutorial. I love making my own journals – with MY pick of favourite papers, often vintage text mixed with sheet music and watercolour papers, which gives me variety (and I'm sure it helps with inspiration too). I have quite a few on the go so I can journal, depending on mood and subject.

  3. thanks!

    I've been getting a little more into sketching still life objects! Not in my current journal though… I can't wait to go back to my blank journals! lol. Right now it's one made of scrap papers from books and things. That's a good one to start with, too, since you don't have to start from a completely blank page.


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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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