This is probably one of my more personal posts to date, but I really wanted to share how I started creative bullet journaling through art journaling. Shortly after I started bullet journaling, I soon caught onto creative bullet journaling. Staring in awe at so many amazing artists and journalers, and the magic they were creating on their pages was so inspiring. If you would like to watch the video, you can check that out here, but otherwise, read on. If you throw caution to the wind and create freely in your bullet journal anyway, scroll through the pictures for inspiration.
Starting an Art Journal
If you want to do creative bullet journaling and create beautiful layouts, art journaling can help! It will allow you a “safe” space to learn and create. By safe, I mean a space where there are no expectations, no rules, and no judgements! Truth be told, I am uncomfortable sharing my art journals for this post and video, but I’m doing it to make a point. Know that you don’t have to share at all.
My suggestion for starting an art journal is to start as simple as possible. I stapled a few sheets of paper together and used that. You can buy an inexpensive sketchbook or use whatever paper you have around the house. I used mixed media paper to hold up to stamping and stamp ink. The less expensive the journal, the better able you are to just let go and create.
(Quick note: if you are using expensive brush pens or paint brushes, you are going to want to look at a higher quality paper. Look for 100GSM or thicker/smoother just to make sure you don’t damage the bristles.)
Art Journaling to Practice Techniques
So, you have your art journal and you’re staring at the blank page… now what?! Go to Instagram or Pinterest and find images that you really like – bullet journal layouts, art journal layouts, prints, etc. Look closely to figure out what particularly you like about it.
How it Started…
For the above image, the art journal is the top right notebook. My inspiration came from someone on YouTube (I wish I remembered her channel!), who was using Gelatos, gesso, stencils and stamp inks to create an underwater themed card. I loved the colours and the way she created the background, so I tried it in my art journal. Going so far as to draw the monster slug thing on sticker paper and stuck it onto the layout! I practiced some of the techniques she suggested, figured out what would work in the bullet journal I was using (a Scribbles That Matter 100GSM notebook – top left), and put together my first underwater themed layout using blending and stamping.
How it went…
As my skill set grew and evolved (thanks in large part to art journaling), I created the bottom middle layout. Using blending, stencils, and stamping on sticker paper for maximum effect.
(FYI: all of these images are on my IG profile and you can see how I grew. The art journal layout was created May 2018, and first bullet journal layout was June 2018, and the middle layout was October 2018.)
Practice with Products/Tools
Another great use for an art journal is to practice using products/tools. In older art journals, I focused a lot on stamping and distress inks. In my dumpster fire bullet journal, I am focusing on products and tools! My latest dumpster fire experiment was sewing. Using my art journal allows me to experiment with different products without worrying about ruining my journal.
My most recent example is my experiment with glitter. In my dumpster fire art bullet journal, I threw caution to the wind and used whatever I could to get the glitter to stick. It needed more than double sided tape. Spraying it with adhesive spray was THE WORST idea (I am still cleaning the spray residue off of surfaces). Using a school glue was the best option but, given the water content, would cause pages in my bullet journal to warp.
Knowing all this, I decided to create a shaker-style setup for my January 2021 cover page. Minimal effort trying to get glitter to stick to the glue, but maximum effect for a creative bullet journal layout.
Testing in Your Actual Bullet Journal
It’s all good and well that you’re using heavy duty, or other specific paper for your art journal, but how do you know it’ll be okay in your bullet journal?! Ideally, you have 2 of the same notebook – one to test and experiment in, and one to do your actual bullet journaling in. But that’s not always reasonable, cost effective, or affordable.
To work around this, you can use a couple of pages in the back of your notebook (or an old/used notebook to test). I use a pages in older, unfinished notebooks to practice lettering, figure out how blending will work, stamping to see if the ink bleeds through, etc. Just like you would test pens, you can test various other products and tools. Or when beauty products tell you to test on a small patch first – same idea!
Trying Creative Bullet Journaling Through Art Journaling
If you’re still with me and haven’t run off to start your art journal yet – which I seriously hope you do! – I just want to emphasize how much art journaling has come to mean to me. Full disclosure: I do put a lot more pressure on myself now than I did then. But that’s something for me to work on and also has to do with time constraints. But even just 15 minutes a day can go a long way in helping open your mind up creatively.
Whatever you do, just try and keep as open minded as possible. Even just lines on a page and doodling around it is a great start. If you don’t like it, turn the page and start again. Glue the pages together if you have to, but create something. And honestly, as someone who glued pages together, try not to because it will be far more interesting to see your journal through your failed attempts than just your “successes”.
I hope you found this post helpful in your creative bullet journaling journey. You can scroll through my Instagram feed aaaalllllllll the way to the bottom, and see where I started. Looking back, it wasn’t pretty but it was mine. As much as I may want to cringe now, I just remember how proud I was when I first created those layouts and hold onto that feeling instead.
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out! Particularly, let me know if you want to know how I created my own little mixed media notebooks. But please let me know if you are going to try art journaling! I would love to hear about your journey if you need and/or want that support!