Art Journaling Tips and Guide for Beginners

Art Journaling Tips and Guide for Beginners

It can be hard at times to hold your feelings in especially these days, so a journal comes in handy whenever you feel like venting or talking to yourself without actually talking to yourself.

I personally can’t imagine getting through any year without a journal in my drawer. It knows all about my creative journey and I’d like to share some art journaling tips for beginners on this post to help you flush out every bit of your artistry.

Journals, also known as a diary, are very therapeutic. It can be your best friend, waiting to read your stories at any time of the day. Sometimes, it even knows you better than you know yourself (and I don’t mean that in a creepy way).

Why You Need a Journal

Art journaling tips

If you haven’t picked your journal, you might want to read here: Best Journals to Buy and Best Guided Journals for Mental Health.

So why do you need a journal? One of the many reasons is that it enhances creativity. I know a lot of people who think they can’t write their feelings out but they can’t stop scribbling once they start a journal.

Here’s an art journaling tip for beginners: you DON’T have to write all the time. Add a quote or draw something—the goal here is to have fun with your freedom to vandalize your notebook.

A journal will help you discover things about yourself so be honest with it as much as possible. In fact, it has been proven to help with your mental health, specifically reducing stress and managing anxiety. There’s no need to keep secrets because the main purpose of a journal is to let it all out.

It’s a safe place where no one will judge you—except probably for yourself later in the year when you re-read your entries. But to me, that’s one of the highlights of having a journal. I always look forward to the end of the year when I finally go through my pages, like having a short film inside my head (better than throwback pictures on social media).

You get to reminisce about everything that’s happened to you within the year, both the good and the bad. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve changed.

I also like bringing one when traveling solo so I can document everything on the go.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. This means I might receive a small commission when you purchase products through the links on my post. Rest assured that I always recommend products that I like and/or are best-sellers. 

Art Journaling Tips

If you’re convinced to start a journal, here are some art journaling tips for beginners:

Incorporate Journaling Into Your Schedule

You don’t have to write every day if you don’t want to. No one is pressuring you into that! But try to keep a schedule that you can maintain—it can be every other day or weekly, and so on (obviously not yearly). It’s only a matter of teaching yourself into committing to a project.

Once you’ve established a routine, you can then try writing daily.

Spice It Up

Trolley cart with journal materials

I love shopping for different journaling materials, such as marker pens, stickers, stamps, and washi tapes. These materials make me look forward to writing and designing my journal pages especially since I keep mine messy and scrapbook-type-ish.

Pro tip: invest in a trolley cart so you can organize your materials. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, trolley carts are very helpful for any arts and crafts materials. There are some trolley carts in the market for as low as $25 with plastic (ABS) baskets, although I highly recommend going all metal. I got mine for $36 and it’s super sturdy!

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Be Honest With Yourself

Do yourself a favor and write from the heart. Write for your eyes only!

Like I’ve said, your journal should be a safe place, where you can truly express how you’re feeling and make sense of it. Don’t write as if someone will barge in and invade your privacy. This is something your future self will thank you for.

Make a List of Journal Prompts

Lyrics scribble on a journal

There will be slow days when you won’t know what to add at all, which is totally normal, so having a checklist of journal prompts will come in handy.

Do some research or maybe check on Pinterest—there is a lot you can write about. Sometimes, it can be as simple as scribbling the lyrics of your favorite song at the moment.

You can also opt for guided journals, which feature daily thought-provoking prompts.

Journaling Materials

Now that I’ve shared a few art journaling tips, it’s time to get creative! I’ve compiled some of my favorite journaling materials and brands below.

ALSO READ: Art Journal Materials and Tools

Journaling Tips - materials to prepare

Note: this section contains affiliate links. This means I might receive a small commission when you purchase products through the links on my post. Rest assured that I always recommend products that I like and/or are best-sellers. 

Old Magazine or Book

You can buy an old magazine at book sales for a dollar or less. Personally, I like buying fashion and wedding magazines because they have a lot of artsy images, not to mention serif texts.

I don’t like cutting books because I believe every writer deserves their craft to be respected, but there are very old books that have reached their expiration date. Just think that you’re recycling the papers—therefore contributing to the environment—and not as if you’re killing the art. You can use these old books as a background on your journal page or make blackout poetry.

Watercolor or Any Paint

Journal entry with watercolor sketch

A watercolor (or any paint available) comes in handy when you want to sketch. It doesn’t matter if you think you can’t draw—the messier it gets, the better!

I like painting stuff up when I can’t put my feelings into words, or generally sketching a familiar interior or place. I’ve always used Prang watercolors as they’re easy to work with even for beginners.

Side note: here’s another sample sketch using Prang.

Watercolor painting of Brooklyn Bridge using Prang

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(More side note: I am 101 percent just an interior designer/architect-wannabe, so please bear with my sketches.)

Specialty Papers & Notepads

I like using brown paper for my journal because it adds a vintage touch. You may use the ones from grocery shopping or take-out bags to save some paper. Recycle as much as you can!

Other papers I absolutely think are amazing for journals include grid papers and parchment papers. These three are my go-to but I suggest scanning the school supplies store for any other type of paper you like.

Pens, Markers, & Highlighters

Black pens are the most important journaling material for me since I try to keep my journals minimalist with a dash of color. Sharpie and uni-pin are my favorite pens for any shade and point of black pens.

For casual writing, I’ve been using Pilot G-Tec (0.4mm) since high school (so like, more than a decade ago).

You can also use colored pens, markers, and highlighters. I like Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens, especially since I sketch some interior designs every now and then. I love the set of colors (especially Olive Green, Light Grey, and Chocolate Brown) and the best part is that they don’t bleed or smear at all!

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Washi Tapes

Different designs of washi tapes

Washi tapes are a must-have, period. These beautiful tapes come in different sizes, colors, and prints that you can use however you like, such as creating a border, taping your photographs, or highlighting a section of your page.

I love vintage and map designs and then any shade of blue or brown for plain ones.


Journaling tips - Letter stamps with stamp pad

I have an old letter stamp from way back university days, but when I recently bought some new ink pads, I thought I should also get more stamp designs. So now I’m guilty of being a stamp hoarder.

There are clear stamps that only cost a dollar or two, which I think is such a steal because they come in sheets with about nine different designs.

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Dried Plants

No idea if people still do it—I like picking wildflowers every time I take a walk around the village. They make my journals 10 times more “alive” especially when they naturally dry on the pages.

Note that almost any kind of dried plant can make your journal pages thicker so it’s ideal to add in small, not-so-bulky plants.


Boxes of stickers

Fun fact: I used to have the largest collection of stickers in class back in grade school. I was that girl and I still am.

I love buying those kawaii stickers that come in cute little boxes. If you want to experiment more, you may draw something digital and then print it or directly doodle on sticker paper using your colored pens.

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Journaling tips - photographs

Polaroid photos are often used in journals, but you can print any photo you want if you don’t have an instant camera.

I have the Instax Mini 9 (Ice Blue), which I’ve had for ages! It comes in different film designs that you can buy in bulk for a cheaper price (including a Monochrome one).

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Journaling tips - Instax
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Any Other Souvenir for the Day

Instead of keeping everything in a “memory box”, why not properly compile them in one place? Save your movie tickets, receipts, love notes, and other souvenirs for keeps.

I’m a very sentimental person so even cafe receipts and candy wrappers are glued to my journal. These little keepsakes somewhat serve as a ticket for a flashback in my head.

I used to be one of those people who maintains a journal for a week and never touches it again after. I’d like to think we’ve all been there, especially towards the end of the year. An easy fix to this dilemma is to just let yourself be creative. I can’t stress this enough, but you’re seriously free to do whatever you want with your pages.

What I really love about journals is that I can save myself from the stress that I usually get when using my productivity planners.

If I use my planners to stay organized, I use my journals to enhance my creativity, where I can turn a single blot of ink into art.

Journaling tips

As a writer, I have about three journal notebooks every year: one for my daily happenings, another for my writing prompts, and another one for my random ideas. More often than not, one of these three is a continuation of the past year—I hoard a lot of journals but I don’t like wasting the pages!

I hope these art journaling tips are enough to get you started. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below and feel free to share some of your journal entries.

2 thoughts on “Art Journaling Tips and Guide for Beginners

    1. Doodling on journals for your most random thoughts is definitely soo satisfying! You’re welcome! Thanks for reading too xx

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