An Intro to Art Journaling


When someone says “journal,” the first thing that comes to mind is a diary that 9-year-old-me filled with my most embarrassing thoughts and feelings. I still cringe at that thought. But journaling, and art journaling to be more specific, can mean a whole lot more.


An art journal can do the same thing as a diary in the fact you can record your thoughts and feelings, but the focus we want to talk about over the next few weeks is on your thoughts and feelings in regards to your art, your creative process, and your inspiration. Journaling can take on a very structured approach where you map out the month in advance, a project by project plan, or a very loose approach where you create a space to jot down your thoughts whenever inspiration strikes.


Artists have been creating art journals for centuries as a guide for themselves and their apprentices. Today, they have become works of art in their own right. They help us understand the artist’s creative process, methodology, and tools. The example of one journal comes from the 18th century Tibetan Book of Proportions. The artist notes go into extreme detail not only about proportion, but the color of eyes, the direction of hair, and even the number of teeth depicted for the “ideal image” of the Buddha. You can see more pages from this art journal at The Public Domain Review.


The most basic materials you need are something to write and draw with and a sketchbook. We make a great series of art books that have In-and-Out pages that work perfectly for the art journal concept. The books have a special wire binding and punched pages that allow you to take pages out and put them back in any order, any configuration you want. You can work on black drawing paper, take the sheet out, and add it to the journal that has heavy sketch paper. You can have multiple size papers in one journal. You can re-arrange your pages by concept, color scheme, date, etc. To help you create space for text, we also make a line template that pops in and out of these art pads as well.



Interested in learning more about art journaling? See our past articles on thalo.com, our artist community.


Check out our blog and social media pages throughout January to see what other artists are doing with art journals, and to enter our giveaways for art journal supplies. As always, we look forward to your thoughts on the subject, share them with us!

Artist credits:

• Blog cover art created by Brett Kelley, photography by Josh Mitchell.

• Tibetan Book of Proportion artwork sourced from The Getty, retrieved from The Public Domain Review.

• Video artwork created by Sophie Theroux, videography by Terri Cappucci.