Art Journaling Thursday – What Do You Journal In?

Hey Journalators, how are your journals going this week? Managed to do a few pages? I wanted to ask you a question…What do you journal in? 

I think I have a bit of a problem. Ok confession time – Hi, my name is Kim and I’m a journal/notebook hoarder.

OMG what a relief to get that off of my shoulders!

But I’m guessing that a lot of you are in the same boat aren’t you? Actually it isn’t just me in my household that has a notebook fetish, David does as well, so our flat is a little full of journal/notebooks in various stages of usedness (is that a word?). 

I have lots of different types of books that I use for all sorts of different types of journaling. I pretty much use anything, and I even make my own books (as some of you know already). 

One of my favourite things to do is to hunt around places like Paperchase when they have a sale on. I do try and buy a lot of my journals at cut prices so I pick them up from sales or I go to my local charity shop and find old books. You can often find old spiral bound cookbooks which make great journals and if they have matte paper then you have yourself a gem!

But the best books of all are the free ones! I’ve already talked about the re-purposing of the free fliers you get through the door, in your local library or in your newspapers and magazines, Some of them have just the best paper for journaling and as it is already printed on you have ready made eye-candy texture to work on. 

I don’t know about you but I’ve learnt a lot about paper in recent years from all this work I do with it and I have a total fascination for the stuff.  I’ve even had a chance to make my own thanks to the lovely folks at the Papermill. I’m telling you that if I had the space I would definitely make my own on a more regular basis. 

So my ideal paper for a journal is a heavy weight matte paper, it doesn’t have to be plan and I love using paper with lines and squares for art journaling, but if I’m sketching I do prefer plain with a tint of colour. But not all books are created equally and in my hunt for ones to re-purpose into journals I’ve used glossy papered books or books with really thin paper and there always ways to bend them to your whim. 

If you have a glossy page treat it to some gesso layers, sand it first if it is really shiny or use the glossy books for your collage journals. Thin papers can be stuck together to make thicker working surfaces and don’t ever be afraid to tear pages out to use elsewhere and to add space to a book for chunky journaling.

So spill, what journals do you use? Where do you get them from? What is your favourite art journaling work surfaces and what tips do you have for art journaling books?

I would love to hear, so do share.

Catch you later Journalators.


Kim Dellow

Kim Dellow is an artist–designer–film-maker living the creative life in London, UK. She's a freelance creative for the craft industry and others, and she loves to share her art-ventures on her blog.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Julie Kirk

    I've been known to spend more time standing in front of my notebook shelves trying to decide which one to journal in – than I do actually creating in them!!

    I too will art journal / write in any kind of book. I art journal in regular notebooks and handmade paper books rather than 'special' art journals. And I love the freedom and eclectic nature of junk journal [that's why I started selling kits for them too!]. And I'm planning to make more handmade books / minibooks from scratch … whenever I get myself organised!

    So … erm … in short … no, you're definitely not alone!

  2. Jac Wild

    I have a drawer full of pretty notepads with ideas for stories in. There is something so lovely about a fresh journal with all it's potential for inspiration.

  3. die amelie

    As I would consider myself fairly new to art journalling I found that for a start an art journal (like the one from finnabair that I use) that allows de- and re-assembling is best for me. I also found that I love it when the pages have different texture, patterns, colours and thickness – it often is the paper itself that inspires a page.

    I am a notebook hoarder too…lol. I call them my portable brains as I use a lot of them to keep track of ideas, plans, schedules and other stuff.

    I have some sketchbooks too..but still haven't used them. But as I grow into art journalling and mixed media I also get less intimidated by a new, clean sketchbook. Tearing, collageing, glueing pages together… the possibilities are almost endless, aren't they?

    To show the finnabair journal I use I add this link:

    Thanks for the wonderful post. I enjoyed reading it a lot!

    Claudia x

  4. Shirley Davis

    At one time my family called me Mrs Goggins (as in the postmistress in Postman Pat) for my dedication to the art of collecting stationery. A store filled with notebook possibilities is far better than a chocolate shop for me. Although the latter makes the day go by too.

    My journals are, so far, all bought – many of them are lined 'conventional' books but they must be pretty and/or carrying owls in their design.

    I write, I doodle, I list and I dream in journals. I have yet to be a regular artist in them – that's regular as in frequent not size.

    Lovely thoughtful post, Kim. As always.

  5. Annette G

    oh gosh Kim, I love all books for journalling, my favourite at the moment are Daley and Rowney as they take a lot of Gesso etc without soaking through, then I just looked behind me and found I have 12 journals on the go not to mention sketchbooks……..methinks I am a tiny bit addicted…… Annette x

  6. Tanya R

    DITTO! I am always looking for new journals! My favorite so far has been my Moleskin journal. I have tried the Terraskin journals, but the paper(that is not made from trees) has a bit of an odour and a funny texture. I also use the SNAP journals. I get them at local art stores, online (Simon Says Stamp) etc.

  7. misteejay

    My name is Toni and I'm a journal hoarder too (see Kim, you are not alone).

    I love pretty stationery and find it very difficult to resist – even after promising myself I would not buy any more until I've used what I've got, I went and bought some lovely journals from Wilko's yesterday after seeing them on someone's blog. Oh dear!

    Toni xx

  8. Clair

    I'm not much of a 'free-styler' so art journalling isn't really for me, but boy do I love a mini-book!

    I feel more 'free' to experiment when I'm scrapbooking on a small scale – and I will almost always make my own books rather than buy one ready made.

    Would love to have a little look through your collection. So nosey, you see? x

  9. kissinia

    Hi Kim!
    Great post 🙂

    I love journalling. For me it's a combination of art, doodles, notes. I try to make them themed, but very soon get bored 🙂 I do have a lot of ready notebooks for art journal. My favorite would be the Hand Book journal TM, Watercolour Grand Portrait. It's a bit expensive in UK, but much cheaper in States. Great size and good quality paper. Ironically, my best pages happen to be in self-made crappy journals made of all kind of rubbish 🙂 Hugs, kissinia

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