10 Reasons Why All Creative People Should Keep an Art Journal

Yvonne Hanson Visual Journal - Goodwin Studios

10 Reasons Why All Creative People Should Keep an Art Journal

Yvonne Hanson will never be found without her journal in hand – as well as a selection of journaling tools. The pages of her books are filled with stories, news, observations, lists, collages made of both paper and organic items, illustrations, pen and ink, paintings, and mixed media. Throughout it all run her university notes. Yvonne is just completing her final two terms at SFU where she will earn a BA in Political Science. And yes, there is a lot of political content in her journals as well.

But of course, art journaling isn’t new. Many famous artists, philosophers, politicians and authors kept journals.  Leonardo da Vinci   carried a visual journal with him at all times so that he could record ideas, impressions, and observations as they occurred. His journals, of which seven thousand pages exist, contained observations and thoughts of scholars he admired, personal financial records, letters, reflections on domestic problems, philosophical musings and prophecies, plans for inventions, and treatises on anatomy, botany, geology, flight, water, drawings and paintings. Edvard Munch used his visual journals to further develop ideas he had worked on in his younger years. For Munch, visual journaling was the process of recording questions and daily observations, as well as a starting point for ideas and sketches that would later become paintings.

Squamish BC artist and sculptor  Christina Nick may have been one of the early inspirations for Yvonne. Christina’s sketchbooks were on display at the Brackendale Art Gallery when Yvonne was a child.  Christina works in a variety of media and often travels to different countries to create sculptures and draw and paint and make notes in her travel sketchbooks. Christina’s sketchbooks are amazing and can be viewed in part at either of these websites: christinanick.com and cnick.ca

Yvonne shares with us Ten Reasons why she believes all creative people should keep an art journal.


A written journal documents the facts of our experiences, an art journal documents the inspiration we glean from these experiences, and the creative process of acting on that inspiration.


Adding an entry to an art journal every day gives us a reason to use our creativity on a daily basis.


An art journal is a place where we can experiment with new mediums and techniques without fear of failure or judgement.


Art journals document the way our creative ability progresses, we can look back on old ones to see how much our styles have improved.


Art journals help us preserve every aspect of a memory- small trinkets like ticket stubs and receipts can be complimented by a creative expression of how we felt at the moment being documented.


Our journals give us an excuse to save all the little things we would otherwise have had to throw away- a flower from behind an ear, a note left by someone we love.


Because creativity comes from the world around us, art journals allow us to include more of the outside world than written journals. Newspaper clippings, photographs, pamphlets, and magazine articles can be included to provide the context in which each art journal is created.


Because of their disorganised nature, art journals can serve many functions. Your journal can be a class notebook, a sketchbook, a diary, a day planner, a scrapbook, or anything else you might need to use it for.


There’s an amazing art journal community on Tumblr that can give great feedback and criticism on the entries that you choose to share and also provide inspiration for sufferers of artists-block. Its a great way to get involved with a creative community.


Finally, a well loved art journal becomes an extension of your soul. It gives comfort when it is near and is a source of personal pride. It is as close as we can come to preserving ourselves, and is therefore a necessary part of the creative individual’s life.

YVONNE HANSON is a creative living, learning and loving in the Lower Mainland, British Columbia. Yvonne’s articles can be found on her Tumblr – click here