What is the book that you use as your art journal? - I have been asked this question lots of times, really. At least once a week I get a message or a comment on Instagram and as much as I love to explain it to everyone who is interested, I thought that maybe making a blog post about it would make sense too? I guess it's the plain lined pages that seem intriguing (or suspicious), so let me tell you everything now.
But before I do I must point out that there are no affiliate links, I don't have anything to do with the brand, I only love them deeply!
A romantic introduction that explains my strange preferences:
During my years of art journaling I was always jumping from one book to another: pretty, branded, gorgeously well made, on trend, chunky, thin, expensive, tiny and massive, with tassels and pockets, great quality paper inside - yes, I went through them all.
None of these fancy babes was good enough for me, something was always missing. Then once day Jamie got me The Diary of Frida Kahlo and I was quite literally stunned. I looked through it again and again and I could not believe how much every bit of it resonates with me. Most important though I realised that on all of Frida's pages the ink seeps through, the writing is messy, the drawings often much less appealing than her big paintings.
My glorious conclusion, that I believe saved my art journaling, was that this is what art journaling is all about. It's this rawness, this honesty, the lack of effort to be better, to make prettier things. This I loved the most so why won't I finally start art journaling like that myself, right?
On January 2015 I promised myself that I will never again do art journal pages to impress anyone, to show off, to achieve anything - no more entering challenges with my spreads, no more contests, no more trying to get more followers or likes. This is not what it's all about. I must art journal for myself.
And I wouldn't be able to do it if not for the book that I grabbed. It was the book that allowed me to be carefree, to be quick, to be messy and to get the inner critic out of my mind once and for all.
The series of books that I'm using is called Decomposition Book by Michael Roger and it's available from Amazon and from their own website. The only special thing about them is that they are made out of recycled materials and that they have fancy, pretty covers (outside and inside). All the rest is to be frank very plain, but as you probably already gathered... to me it's a good thing!
Paper: lined, thin, won't take watercolours no chance bubba. But come on, it's recycled, it deserves praise for that.
Covers: Lovely! Pretty designs and lots to choose from. Insides are also scrumptious. Thanks to that I don't feel like I'm working in the plainest book in the world. Covers make it special, nice to look at and tempting to grab and play in.
Spine and binding: if you only write then I guess this is enough, but if you do things like I do, then it's not that great. I use masking tape to make it stronger and I don't mind occasional loose page - it makes it better! I'm sure that people who made the books didn't expect that anyone will be doing such ruthless things to them. Sorry guys.
Size: I'm using the one that's 24.8 x 19cm but I think that they make smaller ones too. There are 160 pages.
Price: Last year I put one on my Christmas wishlist (I'll do the same this year for sure) and the person who ordered it for me looked unsure when giving it to me. She had no idea how great this seemingly plain book is to me and how many opportunities it gives me. For me the price (around $8) is alright and not too much comparing to other fancy art journals, but I understand that to some it will be too expensive for what it is.
So how do I make it work with all my mixed-media layers?
My process usually starts off with two or three layers of heavy-body acrylic paint, sometimes they are mixed with white gesso. These aren't very wet mediums so paper doesn't absorb them and once they are dry I can work with watercolours or inks, no problem. If the ink occasionally seeps through then I love it, I embrace it, for a moment I feel like Frida :)
I wouldn't attempt a watercolour painting on that paper, it would always be a disaster. Of course I still have pads and other books that I like, but for fearless art journaling, sticking things in and the process that I enjoy the most this is my best book ever.
I'm not sure whether I can recommend the book to anyone, because for some it will be not good enough. What I can lovingly recommend though is trying to art journal in a book that feels nice and makes you smile but doesn't cost crazy money. These expensive books are often daunting and discouraging, they end up on a shelf rather than on our messy tables. They are good for some things but if your goal is to loosen up and to have a taste of freedom in your process, then definitely try it my way.
ps. Oh, hold on! I just realised I already made a video about this book. :)
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