...and so I'm standing in front of the sketchbooks shelf in our local Ryman shop. You can imagine: I'm drooling like a boxer dog, my brain turns into mushy peas and my hands are shaking because they can't take the excitement anymore. I need a new book for my daily messy art journaling, because the one that I'm currently working in is not going to take in any more of my paintings. Now I want all of the books on this shelf and most of all I want that nice new Moleskin - it clearly smiles to me, it's flirty and it seems to whisper lots of inappropriate things. And I'm almost there, it's almost mine, reaching out already, I give in and almost surrender to its love vibes, and then...
... I see another book next to it. Cheaper, less pretty, with worse quality paper inside and I know straight away that that's the one for me today.
Let's stop here to make things clear. Please...
don't think that I feel my art journaling is not good enough for a Moleskin that's £12.
don't think that I don't like to spend money (Splash the Cash is frankly my middle name)
don't think that I though I "don't deserve it" or something (no one ever in the history of this world has ever heard me saying that I don't deserve something).
The reason why I bough the less expensive and less pretty book is simple: I know that I am more likely to feel free and fearless when art journaling if I do it in a book that isn't special.
I get this question a lot via Social Media : what's the book that you use for daily art journaling, what are you using at the moment, which one do you recommend?
I can't answer it in just one sentence, because often I don't even know what the book is. This is why I'm writing this post.
Every time when I choose a book for daily art journaling I'm trying to keep in mind these rules:
1. The book has to cost as little as possible
2. The paper that's 120GMS is good enough.
3. It has to be string bound - wire or glue won't do for me.
4. A6 is my favourite size at the moment, I find bigger* books too intimidating right now.
This could be a good opportunity to make some extra money, stick a few affiliate links to the bestsellers, partner with a big manufacturer and start advertising their books, but unfortunately I'm going to have to disappoint you and be boring. Here are my last three books that I used for daily art journaling:
1. Hand Book - Travelogue by Global Art Materials - square 5.5 " x 5.5".
This one goes against the first rule, but the fact that I had it on my shelve for almost 4 years gave me some courage to finally fill it in. The paper is good for sketching but it's definitely not perfect for watercolours. I liked it and embraced the fact that it would wrinkle and tear. I loved it!
2. Architextures Creative Notebook by 7 Gypsies - 5.5" x 6"
I got it with a big discount so it was cheap to me. The cover is pretty but to be honest (sorry 7 Gypsies!) it isn't anything special, which made it a perfect book for my daily art journaling. I filled it in very quickly and got super messy in it.
3. Ryman Sketching Journal in A6.
A little more than £4 and that made it perfectly inviting. The paper is 120GSM, it's got an elasticated band and black covers which I have already painted on. I'm in heaven and I'm going to be messy in this one too!I already started adding some patterned papers inside.
To sum it up, if you are looking for a book to do some daily, free and messy art journaling, then try my rules ⬆️ and go to your local stationery shop. Browse and don't buy anything that you may be hesitant to fill in with messy painting. Leave those gorgeous books for writing and more thought-through art. At the end of the day this book is to be painted in.
*I've written a blog post about my favourite "bigger" book for art journaling here.
Want to try daily, mindful art journaling with me? Have a read about the 100 Small Steps offering.
Here are some of my recent spreads that I made in Architextures book:
You can see more of my spreads and my daily art journaling process here.