Monday, September 2, 2013

Journal, Sketchbook, Diary-- What do YOU call it?

My sketchbook (journal, diary, notebook, whatever you want to call it) is the only type of art I have consistently kept up throughout my life. It's the place I explore and record ideas. It's the place I feel safe. I can create my own strange little world there and it won't judge me, because it's an inanimate object. I can pack it up and take it with me. My journal is my closest friend and confidant.
I've stopped journaling for periods of time but I always return to it.

I started keeping a journal when I was probably 10 years old. I was obsessed with Harriet The Spy and her black-and-white marbled composition notebook. She put on her tool belt with vintage binoculars, a flashlight and a compact mirror, threw on a yellow rubber raincoat, and set off to SPY. She was (and still is) my hero. So after I saw the movie and read the book, I got a notebook and started writing.

My favorite book-turned-90's movie.

I kept a journal in middle school and wrote mostly about my crushes. I pasted the front cover with stickers and old photos of Josephine Baker.* In high school I met a girl named Monica in my math class who kept one just like mine. A black-and-white composition notebook. Monica filled hers with writing and used colored markers to create fun graphic design masterpieces, and even wrote in it sideways. She was actually the one who thought mine was cool.

My journals have brought me new friends and I am constantly fascinated by other people's journal entries and sketchbooks. They provide an insight into artists' creative processes. Looking at someone's notebook is like looking into someone's mind.

There are as many ways to journal as there are people who journal. There are many different versions of published sketchbooks, such as the highly introspective and intuitive works by Sabrina Ward Harrison, and creative journals that combine drawing and storytelling, like the collaged graphic novel What It Is by Lynda Barry.
Some journals (Kurt Cobain's, famously) have been published posthumously, and are interesting looks into the person's hidden life. Photojournalist and artist Dan Eldon's notebooks tell stories of activism, adventure, and the search for truth and compassion.
I hope to one day join the ranks of these and other artists I admire who have published their journals in book form. For now, that will have to be in the form of handmade zines and blog posts like this one. And ultimately, I write in a book for me and nobody else.

Want to share photos of YOUR sketchbooks/diaries/journals? I'd love to see them! Email me with (journal) in the subject line at: and I'll post your photos and a link to your blog, on MY blog! See how I did that? I'm nice.

Also, feel free to leave a link to your blog or photo stream in the comments below. Discussion is fun.

*Note: I searched for my first couple of journals (including this one) while writing this post and was devastated to discover I got rid of them before my move to Seattle a couple months ago. Heart = broken.
A small selection of my personal journals. The bottom one is my current book.