A Collection of Art Journals

Hello fellow Get Messians! As one who loves loves loves art journaling, I wanted to share a little more about my art journaling practice. I’ve been art journaling pretty regularly since 2002, which has landed me with quite a nice collection of creative pages! Here is a look into my art journal practice:

I keep my the bulk of my art journals in an antique cupboard in our living room. Here’s a photo of them. It’s a bit disorganized, but all the color and pretty pattern makes me happy to see them, even at a distance.

I took a lot of them out to take a photo here. I make most of my art journals by hand, and these days I prefer working in a larger size book, 10×12 or larger.
Not long ago, I decided to document all of my art journals in an oversized sketchbook. I’m up to number 43!
I also keep other creative play books and categorize them a little differently than “art journal”. To explain what I mean, here are all the books I’m currently working in all stacked up:
And here they are spread out on the floor:
And the same books open so when I explain below it’ll be easier with a visual:
  1. classic Art Journal- usually made by hand, or at least the paper signatures are sewn in by hand, sometimes I repurpose old books as covers. These are the only journals documented in my art journal registry shown above, the other art journal categories below all have their own pages of documenting.
  2. Mixed paper single signature Art Journal – these are fun and easy to put together and I use more unique/found papers inside.
  3. Mixed paper single signature Art Journal – these are also light and travel more easily, even though I tend to make these oversized as well.
  4. A small purchased sketchbook that I keep in my purse. I like to take this out when at restaurants and do blind contours or sketch the items that are on the table or sights I see from my seat.
  5. A giant journal (called the Very Big Sketchbook). I use this to keep near me when I am painting on canvas or wood and clean my brush on it’s pages.
  6. Creative Sketchbooking books. These are Strathmore Mixed Media books. I use these for full page specific exercises like the classes I teach online at Creativebug.com, both Creative Sketchbooking and Creative Doodling.
  7. A pattern making book. I just put repeat pattern designs in this book. I have a few other small hand made books for pattern making too.
  8. Another art Journal- I keep a couple going at once usually.
  9. My current Sketchbook. This is a Moleskine, and I use it to do portraits of people, and representational or still life sketches and paintings.
Obviously, that’s a lot of ongoing creative books. (Don’t forget this is all part of my job, being a freelance artist is definitely conducive to lots of art making!) I share this to encourage you to participate in any way you want to, I fully believe there is no right way to art journal.For me personally, art journaling means explorations in paint, pen, ink, collage etc. but not designed or necessarily “finished” pages or focused overall intentional pages. I let my art pages develop and they feel like a free form expression of whatever I want. But I certainly think that ANY book with any practice of making art in it counts as an art journal. There has to be a way that makes doing it easy, whether that means buying a ready made book, hand made, or something in between, or whether it’s one style of creative participation or many.
I just want to encourage you to find a way that makes regularly showing up to play work for you and let the regular practice organize or turn into whatever it may. No judgement, no pre-set agenda, permission granted to play, explore and discover! Happy art journaling…go get messy!
xo Pam


Pam Garrison is an artist passionate about the pursuit of creativity. She can be found art journaling, painting, lettering, doodling or practicing some creative form on the daily. When she’s not at home in Southern California with her husband and two children, she is often travel teaching. You can take a class with Pam in person at various retreats around the globe, or online with Creativebug.com.


  1. Eleanor McComb

    BRILLIANT! I love this!
    My mother and mother in law both quilt and they have albums with their quilts in them (and why not when you spend so long on them!) but for some reason I never even thought to do the same thing for my art journals.
    And you have so many Pam!! #artjournalgoals xx

  2. Sasha Zinevych

    Another amazing post! Thank you, Pam! As I am sitting in a pile of sketchbooks and journals, I fully understand the need to have more than one, for different purposes, different techniques, or even moods! Love that inception style art journal page with all your art journals in it!

  3. Katie Smith

    I love the idea of having an illustrated list of journals! Mine wouldn’t have 43, but it would have a dozen maybe. More if I included sketchbooks….

  4. Clare Davis Etheridge

    This post is a joy to read and look at! I have literally just started working in a handmade watercolor paper book which was totally inspired by you Pam, I love the big size (I made it 9 1/2″ by 12 1/2″). I used the binding technique from Arne and Carlos (Make your own Idea Book) and I hope to fill it with as much wonder as these books!

  5. Melody Willoughby

    I want to document my art journals! Great idea!

  6. solenn Brogan

    Hi there! All those journals are so pretty, I love how you captured a painted inventory of them in one of the notebooks. Such a treasure trove!

  7. Charlotte Erichsen

    I am still shocked by your sheer number of books! Do you also show them in exhibitions? Have you ever sold one?