What do I do with my journals?

“Are those all your journals? What do you do with them all? They just sit on the bookshelf?” What do I do with my finished journals?

I’ve been art journaling for a long time. Not the whole ten years I’ve been art making but close. I have more than 50 journals I’ve made over the years. I just went and counted because I honestly had no idea how many there actually were because they’re shelved in several places in my house.

Most people collect something. Postage stamps were all the rage for years and years. Baseball cards. Comic books. Cookie Jars. Grandma’s china. Houseplants. When my oldest kid was little he collected these little green plastic aliens that only came from one quarter machine at one grocery store in our town. My partner has an extensive pre-2000 computer game collection.

It’s pretty well documented that animals collect things too. Sea otters usually have a smooth stone tucked in their arm pouch that they use to crack open mussel shells with. Lacewing larvae collect trash so they are less attractive to their predators and less identifiable to their prey. You can read about others in this really cool short article I found.

Having a collection is one of the best parts of being alive. My own art in my art journals is my collection.

Connecting the dots

I’ll admit when Lynda first offered this question as an option I really thought I’d already covered it. And I’ve sidled alongside it in many blog posts: How do I decide what to sell and what to keep?, Why do I art journal?, How do all my pieces connect?, How do I decide what journal to work in? But while I talk about art journaling a lot I haven’t really ever definitively said what I do with them.

So what do people usually do with their collections? Enjoy them in some way, right? It’s no different for me and these books.

A list of things I’ve done with my journals

  • I’ve hung them on my work wall in my studio to enjoy them
  • I’ve carried them to art show openings so people can handle my work and see it up close
  • I take them to schools and show kids how they can make stuff of their own
  • I take photos of them to put on my social media and use on this blog
  • I share them with fellow artists and they share their books with me (holding and looking through someone else’s book is one of life’s deep pleasures)
  • I’ve made prints from art from my books and given them away or sold them
  • I use them as reference in my own art making
  • Enter them as parts of a wider show
  • Send them into magazines to be photographed and then published
  • I use prints from art journal pages as fodder for other collages
  • And yes, they are sitting on the shelf a huge percentage of the time

But while they are on that shelf

They are the physical representation of my creativity. They are a reminder of time well spent with myself exploring my own inner landscape. And sometimes it was also time well spent with fellow artists in workshops and classes and creative meetups. Looking at them helps me remember that I am a problem solver and that I have the ability to stick with things and complete them. The line of my journals on the shelf reminds me that practicing making is a near holy endeavor for me. A way for me to commune with the creator of the universe.

It’s no small job they are doing hanging out on that shelf.

What do you do with your art journals? Where do you keep them? Do you take them out and flip through them or when they are done, you are done too? As usual, I want to know how your experiences match up to mine. Drop me a line in email or tag me on socials.

If you don’t want to miss any news from me, sign up for my PencilBooth micro-newsletter! It will include a link to my most recent blog post, a couple of other pics/links, and a pic of Anwyn the studio dog in your inbox once a week! Sign Up here.