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009 Real life is what makes art with Johanna Clough

Mar 12, 2020

You’re putting your life into it so that’s what makes it something special. That’s what makes you appreciate it and other people as well. It really doesn’t matter what you use and it’s funny to say that because I make journals and I’m very passionate about it because I think what you use can inspire you and be a very, very powerful tool to keep you documenting. But at the same time, once you develop the habits and the style and you develop the passion for it, then it’s not going to bother you what you use.

Johanna Clough

Today in a historical first, I am interviewing Johanna Clough. It’s historical because it’s the first time I am interviewing her, but also the first podcast she has been on, which I am excited about because I am a hardcore Johanna fangirl. I love what she creates, who she is as a person, and the encouragement she brings to the art community.

Johanna is an absolute delight. This conversation that we had is an absolute delight. You are absolutely going to love it.

JOHANNA CLOUGH

Johanna is a young mother of 3; inspired by documenting their lives and memories she makes her own journals and is avid about using them to celebrate the every-day moments.

THE VIDEO VERSION OF THIS PODCAST IS AVAILABLE INSIDE OF Get Messy’s Season of Truth

Grab some supplies and create while you listen to Caylee and Johanna discuss fitting art into life, unedited. 

Episode at a glance

In this episode of the Get Messy podcast, we discuss

  • Johanna’s definition of truth
  • how Johanna got started with junk journaling
  • the evolution of “junk” journaling and its new meaning
  • the difference between journals made for other people and for yourself
  • how Johanna makes time to journal
  • how to maximise the efficiency of free moments to journal
  • symbolism in art and turning your real life into art
  • the difference between creating before and after having kids
  • Johanna’s favourite stitches
  • how to use junk journaling if you have a busy lifestyle
  • whether or not Johanna would ever throw her journals away
  • why Johanna goes back into her journals
  • evolving styles and trends
  • how to create journals that feel like you
  • what the best journal to use is
  • tips for documenting your baby’s first year
  • comparison to other creators
  • the end result

Links

Great quotes from this episode

Johanna:

Truth is everything isn’t it? It goes into everything that you make. You’re sort of channeling your life into your art. And I think that’s what makes it important. That’s what makes it have meaning and purpose. If it didn’t have that, then I think it wouldn’t sort of connect to other aspects of your life.

I think that’s why I still like the term [junk journaling] because it’s more to do with actually using it than the actual journals itself.

A lot of what I make is spaced out and I can’t work on something all the time, every single day, all day, every day. It’s just finding moments here and there until I get it done.

You have to sometimes neglect other things in your life to [create].

it’s just choosing, prioritizing on a daily basis what you need to do and also just taking moments where you can, so even five minutes or 10 minutes, it adds up

it intertwines because my kids are probably the reason that I create and the reason that I’ve found this whole thing at all. They inspire me a lot. But at the same time I started to find that I needed something that was just for me

It’s the real life that makes the art what it is so it’s very important.

You can still make the pages very meaningful and very beautiful if you want to, but it’s sort of just takes away the whole pressure of the entire book being something very significant or telling a chronological story of your life. It just makes it more visual and it’s a much more relaxed way to do that.

The more you create and the more you do work in you journal or your scrapbook or whatever it may be, you start to find what works for you. And the more you do that, the more you can sort of experiment with other things. I think your style develops only after you put in the practice and you put in the time. Once you’ve found your style, then you become naturally most selective about what you use.

as you become more practiced and more comfortable with your own style and your own taste and you learn what you like, you become most selective. 

So you don’t have to be super good at something or super creative, but just doing the minimum, even if you just write something down, it’s still going to be… it’s a time capsule. It’s still going to be really important to you and to your kids and it doesn’t really matter how beautiful it is.

And it’s one piece of art or one page that you’ve created, so it’s important not to get stuck on just one thing that you might not love. There’s lots of pages in my journal that I look at and I think, “That was not my best.” But it doesn’t matter, I still can appreciate it for what it is. Each page or each piece of art that you create is going to be different. You’re going to like it differently. It’s more the process, even in documenting, when you’re documenting memories, which is what brought me to creating journals and documenting in junk journals. It’s still the most important thing is that you’re putting your life down. It doesn’t really matter so much the end result.

it’s about having fun and experimenting with things and you’re still getting the memories down. You can’t put too much pressure on it because if you do that, you’re not going to enjoy it and if you don’t enjoy it, what’s the point? You should be enjoying it.

I think that’s what makes them so interesting too. When you’re looking at someone else’s journals, you don’t know the entire backstory. You don’t know what feelings are in it, you don’t know what stories are in it because it’s often a lot of different things that come together into that page. It can be a moment from your childhood, it can be a really recent moment. It taps into so many different things and that’s what makes it so special. You can’t appreciate it just for what it looks like because there’s so many layers in it and that that relates back to my class and my workshop in the Season of Truth.

Caylee

If you think about life as art, it opens your horizons in the way you create completely.

If you have a junk journal and you just skip around, you choose a page based on your mood, based on your feelings, that’s a really low pressure way of creating and it’s a beautiful way of creating. The effort is low and the awesomeness is super high.

No one wants to hear it, but that is how it happens. You just keep doing it.

If you’re a new to journaling, you should infuse your memories and your feelings and memory keeping into it because that way, even when you look back and even if you hate what it looks like, you’ll love it because of those memories.

It’s more the feeling than what actually goes into your journal  in the end. 

More than zero is enough.

We forget that with Instagram we kind of lose the fact that it’s not about [how beautiful it is], it’s about the memories and about documenting them and seeing them as important enough to document.

There are so many different variables and we’re coming to the page with completely different experiences and completely different tools and supplies and things. It’s what it is and it’s beautiful

It’s about your life. It’s not necessarily about the journal, it’s just about putting your life onto the page.

✨ Free class for creatives ✨

In How to Start Art Journaling, we’ll walk you through the art of art journaling, including how to start doing (🙌) and make your very first art journal page (even if you’ve never even opened an art journal before).

Transcript

Caylee:
Hey, Johanna, welcome to the podcast.

Johanna:
Hello, how are you?

Caylee:
I’m good. I’m very excited to chat to you. I feel like we’ve been chatting for a long time digitally, but this is the first time I’m seeing your face.

Johanna:
Yeah. It’s nice to see your face.

Caylee:
Obviously, unfortunately the poor podcast listeners cannot, but they can hear your voice and also they could totally see your face on your YouTube channel, so it’s not like a secret.

Johanna you’re currently the guest artist at Get Messy, that makes me personally as an artist, as someone who loves your work and who always creates from your YouTube videos and from what you share with the world, that makes me super excited.

You’re teaching for the Season of Truth, do you want to tell us what your views are on truth as it relates to your art and your creativity?

Johanna:
Well, it’s everything isn’t it? It goes into everything that you make. You’re sort of channeling your life into your art. And I think that’s what makes it important. That’s what makes it have meaning and purpose. If it didn’t have that, then I think it wouldn’t sort of connect to other aspects of your life.

Caylee:
I think you’ve got such a good way of putting your life into your journals and I think that you do that in such an authentic way and it’s such a buzzword at the moment. But the way that you do it, you’re able to really put your heart into it.

Johanna:
Oh, thank you.

Caylee:
I don’t want to ask you how you do that because that is part of the Get Messy season. But tell me a little bit more about your journals and the way you see them.

Johanna:
Well, I first started keeping my junk journals after my son was born. Straight out of school actually, I became a mother. I was kind of thrown into motherhood and I knew straight away I wanted to keep a scrapbook to document his life. Initially I was just looking at it what already existed and how I could do it just the traditional way and that eventually led me two making my own journals. Once I started making my own journals, the whole process of junk journaling, which is what I call it, sort of happened really authentically.

Caylee:
Why do you call it junk journaling?

Johanna:
Well, I know it’s funny because when I first started it was called junk journals and it was more so to do with actually using actual junk and making a journal out of it, so repurposing things. But as the time has gone on, it’s changed and it’s become more using patent papers, scrapbook papers, but the term is still junk journals.

Caylee:
I love that it stuck. It makes me feel like if I have a junk journal, there’s no pressure for what you create in there. You don’t need to make a masterpiece.

Johanna:
Exactly. I think that’s why I still like the term because it’s more to do with actually using it than the actual journals itself.

Caylee:
What are your favorite types of papers to bind into your journals?

Johanna:
I do use a lot of scrapbook papers, so I’m kind of guilty of sort of moving away from using junk. But I think a lot of that’s to do with the fact that I sell journals so I like to use more high quality products when I can. I guess coming from, it’s sort of like scrapbooking and so with scrapbooking people are really looking for that archival quality. I think that’s why it sort of morphed into junk journals. I like to use patent scrapbook papers, but I also like to use vintage stuff for sure. Children’s book pages, anything, any of them that I can get my hands on. I think the old vintage stuff really adds an element of child and makes it so unique.

Caylee:
I’ve actually got one of yours, it’s on one of my shelves somewhere and I’m going to say it is like an actual piece of art. It is so good.

Johanna:
Thank you.

Caylee:
I mean, I’ve made a few myself and I’ve made from your tutorial specifically. When my son was born, I followed that tutorial and I think that’s how I found you. But it’s nothing like the way you make it. It’s just I can just like feel the love in it. It’s really beautiful.

Johanna:
Oh, thank you.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B9Zg3RNg40g/

Caylee:
Tell me the difference between when you create for other people, for journals you sell and when you create the journals for yourself.

Johanna:
I guess the biggest difference is when I’m making it for myself, I know straight away what I like, what I’m drawn to. I think when I make it for myself it comes together a lot faster. I’m also less stressed about making it perfect because it’s for me so I know that it doesn’t really matter. It matters more when I’m actually using it. When I make the to sell in my shop, I always like to do collections. I like to make a set of journals at once. I like doing that because it lets me sort of try different varieties of the same sort of theme or the same sort of concept and I don’t like to put too much in them that people sort of don’t know how to use them. I like to leave them relatively blank.

Caylee:
Do you kind of approach them like you would if you had a gallery show?

Johanna:
Yeah, I feel like I do. There’s a lot of… It’s a long process all the way through to filming and presenting it, taking photos and then put them up on the website. It’s all part of the process.

Caylee:
How long does it take you?

Johanna:
It takes me a long time. It’s because mostly because I have kids that are young children. A lot of what I make is spaced out and I can’t work on something all the time, every single day, all day, every day. It’s just finding moments here and there until I get it done.

Caylee:
Let’s talk more about that because this fascinates me and there’s actually a video with you that I absolutely loved and I’m going to add it to the show notes. Where you’re answering frequently asked questions and one of them is how do you find time? And you just like, “Just create, don’t make lies for yourself, you just do it.” So how do you make time Johanna?

Johanna:
Well that’s exactly, it’s sort of you have to do it. You have to sometimes neglect other things in your life to do it. There will be days where my house is a mess, but I just leave it because I know that I want to create, I feel drawn to create, so I just sort of seize the moment and do it when I feel it. Then there’ll be other days where I’m cleaning all day and I don’t get to craft at all, which obviously isn’t the preferred day. But it’s just sort of choosing, prioritizing on a daily basis what you need to do and also just taking moments where you can, so even five minutes or 10 minutes, it adds up.

Caylee:
I love the way that you say you have to sometimes neglect other things because I mean, that’s what you do and it’s the same. It’s like that Pinterest quote that’s is, “You’ve got the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce“… she’s just chosen to work on her singing and awesomeness.”

Johanna:
Exactly.

Caylee:
But do you have tips? You say you found those little moments, how do you make sure that you’re maximizing the efficiency of those moments?

Johanna:
I guess choosing, it’s time management. If you only have five minutes, maybe you can start preparing something so that the next time you have more time you can sit down and get it done. Or even just cleaning my studio, if I know that that night only have 10 minutes, I’ll go and clean up and lay out what I’m doing tomorrow and that way you’re using your time efficiently.

Caylee:
I think it also comes over time, the more you create, the more you know that that type of thing is going to take five minutes on this this type of thing is going to take a whole day.

Johanna:
Exactly.

Caylee:
How do you deal with that…? I have found that I’m a very all or nothing type of person, so having a son or having a kid really affected the way that I live because I couldn’t just spent hours and days just immersed in something. I had to learn this trick of, he’s napping now, he’s going to nap for 45 minutes I could do this.

Johanna:
Exactly.

Caylee:
I don’t know, was that an easy change for you? You were a young mom and you started creating from your son, right?

Johanna:
Yes, definitely. I guess it intertwines because my kids are probably the reason that I create and the reason that I’ve found this whole thing at all. They inspire me a lot. But I guess, I don’t know, when I first became a mother, I was just freshly turned 18 so he was my whole world. But at the same time I started to find that I needed something that was just for me. It’s something that I could work on. Then gradually adding more children to the family, so it’s been sort of a very slow, natural progression for me.

Obviously as the time goes on, the busier you get or the more kids you have, the busy you get, the less time you have. But we talk about seasons of our life, so it’s like he might go for a couple of months and it might be really, really hard to get in and create and then you might have a couple of weeks where you have lots of time. It just sort of depends what’s going on in your life and that’s where you have to prioritize what’s important to you.

Caylee:
We’re talking about motherhood in particular now, but the same goes if you’ve got a very stressful job or health issues and you just kind of go with the flow and you kind of let go a little bit and you make things work. I like the way that you said that your kids are the reason that you create. I think I struggled a lot in the beginning with Elliot when he was a newborn and not being able to create, because I went from basically 18 hours a day of making art to very structured way, which was very weird for me. Over time I’ve found that it’s a better way of creating for me, which is interesting.

But I also think something recently clicked in me, in that instead of spending time with Elliot and being annoyed that I can’t be creating, I don’t know, something clicked where I could be in the moment and realize that doing other things, even if it’s something stupid like washing the dishes, if you’re fully immersed in it, then you get so much more value out of it. And you get so much more value when you are creating in that time.

Johanna:
Sure.

Caylee:
Then there’s also that you’re creating your whole life. I think that some people think being an artist means you sit in an attic and you’re just creating all time. But it’s not, it’s just like the way that you see the world as well… what you’re creating in your head when you’re not physically creating.

Johanna:
Mm-hmm. And all of that real life stuff it all ends up being in the art. Which relates to my workshop on the Season of Truth. It’s the real life that makes the art what it is so it’s very important.

Caylee:
Exactly. I think that it was from your class Pieces inside Get Messy that I learnt about you had, what was it? Oh, one of your children you see as a bunny, right? One of your children, their symbol, the animal is a bunny or some kind of flower, I don’t know, something like that. But it-

Johanna:
Oh, was it a- It might’ve been a poppy. Was it a poppy flower? Sometime we use that as a symbol.

Caylee:
Yes, there was little poppy. Yes.

Johanna:
I remember the bunny. I think that was, I can’t remember, it was so long go, but I think it was relative to a story.

Caylee:
Yes. It was a poppy flower. But then I thought I’ve started to now look for my son’s flowers all the time, which are violet and there’s such… I didn’t think anything of them before, but now I’m seeing the world in a different way. If you think about life as art, it opens your horizons in the way you create completely.

Johanna:
I think that’s what I’ve tried to touch on too in this workshop is how to sort of, well, not so much how, but what you can do to train your mind to sort of think of things conceptually. Things in your normal life that you might’ve overlooked before, you might suddenly see them in a new light and think of ways you can put them into your art.

Caylee:
I think you’ve got a very good way of seeing the world as art. It’s really wonderful to learn from you.

Johanna:
Oh, thank you.

Caylee:
Do your kids ever create with you or spend time in your studio?

Johanna:
They do. They don’t so much anymore because my studio is really small where we’re living at the moment, but we do a lot of arts and crafts together. When I had the bigger studio, I had a little table for the kids to create in. It’s a bit hard but it’s nice to be able to share that.

Caylee:
Do you have any tips for that? How do you… I don’t know, how to nurture that in kids. I mean obviously with you being an artist you’re going to automatically nurture the creative side of them but practical tips.

Johanna:
I don’t know. I try to sort of think of my own childhood because I think a lot of my creativity actually came from my earlier years. Well, really a lot of my creativity just stemmed from my childhood, so the thing that first sparked my creativity was children’s books. Just looking at illustrations in children’s books and just being amazed at how someone could create a whole world with paper. That’s really where it sparked for me. I think just trying to think of those things that inspired me at that age and brought that sort of creative magic and how I can share that and teach that to my kids.

Caylee:
I love that. We’re going about this weirdly but let’s talk a little bit more about your creative journey. Were you always creative as a kid?

Johanna:
I was always creative. My mom’s pretty creative and there’s lots of people in my family that I really musical or can paint. But as a child, I actually had, I still have psoriasis, which is a skin condition and when I was younger it was worse than what it is now. It really affected me, it made me really shy. I didn’t like to go out in public, I’d rather just stay home draw. I’d literally sit down and draw all day. I think that sort of helped shape a lot of my love for creativity. Then as a teenager I sort of moved away from it a little bit. I still enjoy drawing and stuff, that was really the sole thing that I did creatively growing up. Then I got pregnant and my last year of school, completed school and then sort of found my way back in a different way, in a better way.

Caylee:
What do you think that shift was? Was it your son?

Johanna:
Yeah, for sure.

Caylee:
Can you tell me a little bit about the difference?

Johanna:
So wanting to document, I think before drawing it was just a fun sort of, I don’t know, it was just a fun outlet. It could be anything you wanted it to be, but with my son it was more so actually wanting to document, remember and cherish his life and celebrate it.

Caylee:
I love that. What does it mean practically for you? You’ve got more paper now?

Johanna:
Yes, much more supplies. I need a whole room.

Caylee:
Your journals, you do long stitch, right? Is that your favorite?

Johanna:
Yeah, I used to just do long stitch with lots more binding holes, so just making it a little bit more intricate. Then I started just doing, it’s a three hole long stitch and I found that was so much faster and it looks really nice. I think I actually prefer the way that it looks compared to the more intricate stitching. That’s just sort of, I guess once you find something that works for you, you tend to just stick with it.

Caylee:
Tell me your process about from when your journal’s finished, you recently finished your journal? Did I see that on Instagram?

Johanna:
Mm-hmm. I shared a picture of it today, I’ve got it here. It’s so fat and it’s so heavy.

Caylee:
That is fat, that is heavy.

Johanna:
It’s so fast. It’s actually got probably, I don’t know, 10 or so-ish single pages that are unused, but they’re not blank. When I make my journals there’re still patents or papers that I feel drawn to use. If there’s pages that I haven’t used, I’m not overly fussed about it because they’re still meaningful to me, so they’re still something that I chose for a reason so they still sort of speak for themselves.

Caylee:
I think that’s why junk journaling’s great. It’s like if you’ve got… you feel guilt if you leave a Moleskine sketchbook with 10 pages left, but I’ve got the same. I’ve got a bunch of my journals here from another project, but one of them just has a few pages that just don’t anything on. But I feel it’s still complete because of those papers that I had chosen.

Johanna:
Exactly. That’s really the beauty of junk journals because they give you a starting point, every page is already sort of started in a way. It works really well. It’s really forgiving, especially if you have the busy lifestyle or if you… I don’t journal every single day and I also don’t journal chronologically. If I did, you would visibly be able to see the gaps in the time, you would be able to tell how much time has gone on since I lost journaled. Sometimes it can be weeks, it really can. With junk journals, I like to skip around the pages, just choose what works for me based on the story that I’m telling or the patterns that are already there in the book. Then in the end it just looks really full, even if you’ve missed little sections of your life.

Caylee:
I think you’re giving really good tips for people that feel intimidated by journaling. If you have a junk journal and you just skip around, you choose a page based on your mood, based on your feelings, that’s a really low pressure way of creating and it’s a beautiful way of creating. The effort is low and the awesomeness is super high.

Johanna:
You can still make the pages very meaningful and very beautiful if you want to, but it’s sort of just takes away the whole pressure of the entire book being something very significant or telling a chronological story of your life. It just makes it more visual and it’s a much more relaxed way to do that.

Caylee:
Absolutely. You have finished this journal now, have you got your next journal bound?

Johanna:
No, I have the cover because I did a little cover tutorial on my YouTube channel recently, so that’s going to be my cover. I have to put pages together, but we’re actually going to be moving in a couple of weeks, so I think what I’m going to do is just put that aside and work in a little notebook. I recently bought a notebook for Moonside Parlour, she’s another junk journal artists, which I really adore. I think I might just move into that for the next couple of weeks and I’ll probably get that finished and then when we’re moved into a new house, I’ll finish the next junk journal.

Caylee:
How long did it take to finish that other one?

Johanna:
To use it?

Caylee:
Yeah, when did you start?

Johanna:
I think I started maybe halfway through last year, so maybe about six months or so.

Caylee:

It’s a monster for six months. I feel like it looks like a five year journal.

Johanna:
It could be more, but I stuck a lot into my pages because I’m a really visual person. A lot of the joy for me comes from the actual visual elements of the papers that I put into it, the interactive pieces that I put into it. So it ends up being really chunky, they always do.

Caylee:
How do you store them?

Johanna:
I have one of those IKEA KALLAX shelves and I’ve got little cubbies that they sit in and then I’ve also got drawers. They’re starting to sort of take over, but eventually when we move into our in house, I’ll be able to put them into a shelf. I used to have a display cabinet that had glass doors, I still have it but it doesn’t fit in my craft room, and that’s what held all of my journals. It’s got three shelves, it’s got huge room so I’ll probably move them back into that.

Caylee:
Would you ever throw them away or recycle them?

Johanna:
I don’t think so because they hold a lot of memories from my kids’ lives, but I have thrown away generals before just for myself. I think it’s kind of that if it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. So if there’s a journal that you feel has really negative connotations, then what’s the use in keeping it really if it doesn’t do anything for you. I think if the actual process of it would’ve brought some healing and would have been beneficial, but if keeping it once it’s done isn’t positive, then there’s no point in doing that.

Caylee:
I totally agree. It’s like sometimes you have those journals that are all about the process and sometimes you have some journals that are about the end result. Do you ever go back through your journals?

Johanna:
I do actually quite quite often. Whether it’s to remember something or to look for something or to get inspiration. I do like go through my journals, especially the more recent ones. I think as time goes on, you develop new styles and you get more competent in your process and so looking at the more recent ones really connect with you better. Whereas the old ones can be a little bit like, “Oh, why did I write that or why did I do that?” Because you change a lot so looking at all the ones can be a bit more… it can bring a bit more discomfort in a way.

Caylee:
I used to have journals from when I was a teenager and they’re all long gone. I still remember throwing them away in my parents’ house and I cut them up so much because I didn’t want anyone reading them.

Johanna:
Oh, man.

Caylee:
I kind of want to read them though, but I also really don’t.

Johanna:
I can relate to that. I think all of us can relate to that. I have journals as a teenager that I also destroyed and my mom used to go into the recycling bin and be like, “Why are you throwing this way?”

Caylee:
My mom used to go in and read it. She used to love reading them.

Obviously styles change and that, do you ever look at, because I look at some of my older scrapbooks and I kind of question them and they’re usually the ones where I tried to be trendy and use what was currently popular. I think that’s also something that happens. The more you create is you tend to go away from the trendy things. Do you ever look back and think, “Oh, that was trendy, I shouldn’t have done it.” On top of that, another question, how do you make sure that it looks like you?

Johanna:
Yes, I can relate to that. The first scrapbook I ever did was for my son and it was his first year sort of project life scrapbook album. When I look at it now, it’s nothing that I would ever do now because my style’s completely developed. But I wouldn’t destroy it because it’s got those memories and also it sort of tells a story of my creativity as well. It shows how far I’ve come and how things have changed. Sorry, what was the second question?

Caylee:
Sorry, those were long ass questions. I’m forgetting it. No. I want to know what your tips are for making things feel like you.

Johanna:
Right. I think it just comes with practice. The more you create and the more you do work in you journal or your scrapbook or whatever it may be, you start to find what works for you. And the more you do that, the more you can sort of experiment with other things. I think your style develops only after you put in the practice and you put in the time. Once you’ve found your style, then you become naturally most selective about what you use. There’s a lot of things, like I just did it clear out of my studio, there’s a lot of products that I wouldn’t use anymore, but when I bought them I love them. Whereas now I wouldn’t put it into my journal because I feel like it doesn’t represent me and my heart and my perspective.

Caylee:
That’s brilliant. I think no one wants to hear that, but that is how it happens. You just keep doing it.

Based on your answer, there was something that I picked up that I quite like. It’s kind of a journaling hack. If you’re a new to journaling, you should infuse your memories and your feelings and memory keeping into it because that way, even when you look back and even if you hate what it looks like, you’ll love it because of those memories.

Johanna:
Exactly. With my son’s scrapbook, I’ve looked through it and I thought, should I re-do this? I’ve got all the photos, I’ve got all the information, should I just take it and change it so that it’s my time now? But it wouldn’t be true to that period of my life, it wouldn’t represent who I was back then. I think it’s important to appreciate it if you can.

Caylee:
Tell me more about your destashing. How often do you do it or is it just because you’re moving?

Johanna:
No, actually I haven’t started packing, but I feel like I have all my supplies really open eyes. But when I’m reaching for things over a period of time, you notice when you’re not picking something up, you sort of look at and you go, “Nah.” You pick something else. I guess after a couple of months if I’m still skipping over something and I know it’s time to do a clear out and pass it on to someone who will appreciate it and use it.

Caylee:
You’re not really a supplier’s hoarder?

Johanna:
I’m not really. Actually, I used to be very… when I first started I would consume products. I just had to have all the new stuff and I would just buy things mindlessly. But I guess that comes with not really knowing your own style yet and not really knowing what you like, so it’s all a part of experimenting, there’s nothing wrong with it. But as you become more practiced and more comfortable with your own style and your own taste and you learn what you like, you become most selective.

Caylee:
Yup.

Johanna:
A lot of the shops that I used to go to, I just will hardly ever go in there anymore because I know straight away they don’t have the things that I like or if I do go in there, I’ll come out with one or two things because it just doesn’t really fit with what I liked.

Caylee:
When are your next journals coming out?

Johanna:
I have two baby books that I’m working on, so it’s a boy and a girl, two separate ones. I’m trying to get them done before I move and they’re quite close to being finished, so hopefully in the next couple of weeks. They’re really cute. I’m excited to share them. They’ve got lots of vintage vibes, so then like retro baby sort of feel. It’s fun to revisit the baby ephemera and papers and stuff.

Caylee:
You make a really beautiful baby journals.

Johanna:
Thank you. I think because it’s such an important part of documenting and of such a significant period for both the mom or the father and the baby so it’s really important to document that and it just… I feel like when you re really passionate about something, it shows in your art.

Caylee:
100%, I opened that journal of yours that you made for me and I was just like, “Wow.”

Johanna:
I think too, when I’m making it for other people, like when I made that journal for you, I’m trying to think of who you are as a person, so channel what I know about you into that and so that it will be meaningful to you.

Caylee:
I mean it’s crazy. It was like, “How did you know?” It’s a weird feeling to see yourself in paper.

Johanna:
Oh, that’s good though because that’s really what I strive for when I’m making a journal especially for someone else. You want them to be able to see elements of themselves or their life or their style in it because that’s what inspires them to use it and using it’s what makes it special?

Caylee:
Yes, that’s big. I think that there are a lot of people that have – no shade, but – there are a lot of people that have a bunch – actually, yes shade – a bunch of journals lying on their shelf that they bought. But it’s not special until you put anything in it. You could have the world’s crappiest notebook, I actually brought back one from South Africa with me. It’s just like, how much does it cost? $1 and it’s so bad. The paper quality is so bad, it’s basically falling apart. But I remember when I was a teenager, those things were everything to me and so much love went into it. You could use one of those $1 notebooks, one of those things that you use for school with those blue lines and the red margins and you could make magic with it. It really doesn’t matter which journal you use.

Johanna:
Yes, that’s so true. So you could take an exercise book and you could use it. You’re putting your life into it so that’s what makes it something special. That’s what makes you appreciate it and other people as well. It really doesn’t matter what you use and it’s funny to say that because I make journals and I’m very passionate about it because I think what you use can inspire you and be a very, very powerful tool to keep you documenting. But at the same time, once you develop the habits and the style and you develop the passion for it, then it’s not going to bother you what you use.

Caylee:
I love that. I’m definitely going to re-listen to that part. I’ve made a note for myself because I need to make a journal page about that.

Johanna:
It’s very true.

Caylee:
It is. Well, so tell me what your three tips for someone maybe who’s either pregnant or a new mom and she wants to journal the newborn period or her baby’s first year or whatever. What are your three tips for that?

Johanna:
I guess the first tip would be to either keep notes on your phone or in your notepad, because I remember in that period of my life, you just don’t have time to go and create when you want to or when you get an idea. When something happens, most of the time you’re not going to be able to go and do that straight away, so keeping notes is really important. I used to keep notes on my phone, I still do in the little notepad app. But I did that for each of my kids and that just helped me to transfer all of those things later in a creative way, but I thought I should forget, so that’s really important. I guess another tip would be not to put too much pressure on it because, like we said before, it’s the actual life that’s important, it’s not the end result.

If you’re documenting something for your kids, when they look back on it, they’re not really going to care how extravagant or beautiful it is. You can have fun with it and you can make it beautiful, but in the end they’re just going to look at it and think like, “My parents kept this record for me.” And that’s going to be the important part of it. I don’t know about the third tip.

Caylee:
You can give two if you want.

Johanna:
Those would definitely be my top two.

Caylee:
Those are really good tips. The second one, no pressure. I think that my favorite saying at the moment is more than zero is enough. You were saying, when your kid’s old enough to understand what that is, he’s not going to look and go, “Why did my mom use that pink color there? That’s gross.” They’re just going to feel loved, right? And that’s great. It’s more the feeling than what actually goes into your journal  in the end.

Johanna:
When I became old enough to be mindful of that, I found a little traditional baby book where you just fill out the problem that my mom had done. She has six kids so it started out with the eldest and then it worked its way down. As you go through it, there’s less and less about the younger children, because she’s become so busy, it’s like six kids. But looking at it, even three or four sentences throughout the entire book about one of my siblings, it’s still so treasured and special. It gives such an insight I guess into your parents and you can’t really understand that until you’re older.

Caylee:
Exactly. I also had a basic baby book and now it’s just such a treasure and my mom doesn’t think the way I do with paper. So it means even more that she took the time just to write Caylee.

Johanna:
Exactly. So you don’t have to be super good at something or super creative, but just doing the minimum, even if you just write something down, it’s still going to be… it’s a time capsule. It’s still going to be really important to you and to your kids and it doesn’t really matter how beautiful it is.

Caylee:
I think we kind of forget that nowadays because with Instagram we’re just seeing the best of the best and even someone like you who journals their whole kids laugh, you’re not sharing every single page. We kind of lose the fact that it’s not about that, it’s about the memories and about documenting them and seeing them as important enough to document.

Johanna:
Yes. That’s so true. There’s so much pressure with social media and I feel like being on YouTube, a lot of people will send me their pages, photos of their pages and they’ll say, “Oh, it’s not very good, but you inspired me to do this.” But it is, it really is good and it’s a lot of… there shouldn’t be that comparison because that’s your life you put down in a visual way. It’s just as good as anyone else’s.

Caylee:
Yes. Oh man. I feel like we need to stop saying, “This isn’t good.” Right?

Johanna:
Yes.

Caylee:
I mean I do it too. I do it to myself, I’ll look at something and think, “Oh, that’s not as good as…” Even if I compare it to myself… but we need to stop doing that because there are so many different variables and we’re coming to the page with completely different experiences and completely different tools and supplies and things. It’s what it is and it’s beautiful.

Johanna:
And it’s one piece of art or one page that you’ve created, so it’s important not to get stuck on just one thing that you might not love. There’s lots of pages in my journal that I look at and I think, “That was not my best.” But it doesn’t matter, I still can appreciate it for what it is. Each page or each piece of art that you create is going to be different. You’re going to like it differently. It’s more the process, even in documenting, when you’re documenting memories, which is what brought me to creating journals and documenting in junk journals. It’s still the most important thing is that you’re putting your life down. It doesn’t really matter so much the end result.

I try to sort of get that message across in my journaling, so I do a lot of journaling process videos on my YouTube channel and I always try and stress that it’s about having fun and experimenting with things and you’re still getting the memories down. You can’t put too much pressure on it because if you do that, you’re not going to enjoy it and if you don’t enjoy it, what’s the point? You should be enjoying it.

Caylee:
Oh man, that is amazing. I think you do get that point across. I think you’re very good at stressing that and I think that the way you create is very inspiring. It’s an inspiring way to make sure that the people watching remember that it’s about your life. It’s not necessarily about the journal, it’s just about putting your life onto the page.

Johanna:
Exactly. I think that’s what makes them so interesting too. When you’re looking at someone else’s journals, you don’t know the entire backstory. You don’t know what feelings are in it, you don’t know what stories are in it because it’s often a lot of different things that come together into that page. It can be a moment from your childhood, it can be a really recent moment. It taps into so many different things and that’s what makes it so special. You can’t appreciate it just for what it looks like because there’s so many layers in it and that that relates back to my class and my workshop in the Season of Truth.

Caylee:
Oh, well, that is a great place to end then. Thank you so much for chatting me today. Johanna, I’m definitely going to go back and listen to a bunch of things that you say said and meditate on it in my journal and document it.

Johanna:
Oh, thank you. It was so fun to talk to you. It was long over due. It’s funny because I feel like I know you so well, but we haven’t actually sat and talked.

Caylee:
Right!? It’s crazy. You feel a bit like home to me.

Johanna:
Oh, thank you.

Caylee:
Thank you for this chat.

Johanna:
Thank you.

 

Your podcast host, Caylee Grey

I’m Caylee Grey. Creator of Get Messy, official fairy freaking artmother and your pro excuse-squashing ninja. 

In the Get Messy podcast I’ll be chatting to a selection of amazing, real-life humans just like you are who are dealing with the very same barriers … but overcoming them to create their art.

Together, we’ll explore what it REALLY means to be an artist. Practically. Warts and all. So that you can be an artist, today, now, even if you work a day job, have a million and one commitments and own a cat that likes sitting on your art.

No more excuses. Okay? Okay.

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