Including interactive elements in your art journal pages

Hey messy artists! It’s Riet here, talking about my favorite art journal theme! Eek! If you know me you know every time is fairy tale time for me! This season is right up my alley and it was pretty hard to decide for a tutorial because I could literally talk about this topic endlessly! That’s why I’m going to show you 9 (!) ways to incorporate interactive elements in your spreads!

For me the interactive elements are a great part of the actual fun when working with fairy tales, folk tales, legends and myths!
They add some mystery, are playful and intriguing! I love when a page makes you want to touch it all, to dwell and curiously examine details- it’s a bit like being a child again.

Enough gushing- let’s head to the windows, pockets and flaps!


  • a pencil
  • paper (plain paper, scrapbook paper, your own painted paper and/or Project Life cards)
  • scissors/x-acto knife
  • washi tape or packaging tape


Windows are a fun way to show what is on the next page and play with the looking through effect. The revelation makes us curious and excited to flip the page and see the grand picture.

The easiest way to add them are circles. I often use a circle punch because it’s quick and no work at all, but depending on the size I want, my scissors come in handy. Just outline something round like bottle caps or lids and cut it out with your scissor or x-acto knife.
You can leave them as they are or add thread, making them look like a dream catcher.

You can also just make half circles. Depending how big you make them, underneath is space to add journaling, little images, doodles or just a peephole to the other side! For this just outline half of a circle, cut it with your x-acto knife and done you are!

Of course you can also cut different shapes like an easy bird shape, clouds or rain drops. The possibilities are endless and this is also a good way to incorporate elements from a fairy tale in your background. Apple shaped windows for Snow White, mushrooms for Alice? First draw your shapes where you want to have them on your page, and then cut them out with your x-acto knife or scissors. Take a look on Cait Sherwood‘s Instagram for more shape inspiration!

Pro tip: If you don’t feel comfortable drawing them free hand you can look for stencils. Just outline your stencil or part of it and cut it out.


Hidden journaling, little secret spots to add pictures, letters, ephemera… Yes, I’m talking about pockets! Even if they are my own and I know what’s in there, they make me still curious. It’s nice to find things hidden after you didn’t flip through your journal in a long time and almost forgot about the little treasures.

The most obvious way is adding an envelope of course. You can work them into the background by first glueing them down and then paint over it in the same colors as your background.

You can use glassine bags or vellum envelopes to play with the opacity, showing a bit of what’s underneath. I kind of like the shining through effect.

If you don’t have either of them at home you can make your own pockets pretty quickly and easy. Take a piece of scrapbook paper, a Project Life card or you own painted paper and cut it in your desired pocket size. You can attach the paper to the page with a bit of stitching, glue or a stapler, always leaving one side open.


Ah, my very favorite element! There can never be too many flaps! Flaps are a great way to add more space for journaling, images or more paint! When it comes to flaps washi tape/packaging tape is your best friend.

Let’s begin with the easiest one: tip-ins! Tip-ins can be attached everywhere on your page. Think of Project Life cards or ephemera, illustrations, magazine images and more.  Decide where you want to add your tip-in and attach it with a hinge.  A hinge is easily made by putting a strip of washi tape along the entire length of your tip-in. Make sure it really just covers the length of your tip-in! Then turn the tip-in over and put another strip of washi tape on the backside and voilà!

Pro tip: Ephemera or magazine images can be very thin and won’t last long as a tip-in depending how much you flip through. To reinforce them you can glue them on a piece of cardstock.

To extend your journal to create more space for journaling or images you can attach flaps to the sides of a page. Take some cardstock and cut it to the same length as your page. With a pencil you can lightly draw or trace different shapes (triangles, stars, swirls, etc). Cut out the design with your scissors or x-acto knife. Place the flap next to your page and attach it again with a washi tape hinge.
You can vary the width to your liking but keep in mind that you must be able to close the journal so it’s best to leave a bit of space between the flap and the spine.

Note: If you use other tape like packaging tape the paint won’t stick to the glossiness. To prevent that a light coat of gesso helps!

Instead of extending your journal you can also fold the pages in the middle and make it open like a door.

I dare you to take your journal to the next level this season. Let it be an exploration of hidden treasures, of peek-a-boos and playfulness.  You have now 9 options how to do it.

Fairy tales and everything magic make my heart sing, I would absolutely LOVE to see your pages and don’t want to miss them so feel free to tag me on Instagram (@diekleineriet), but most importantly I wish you the most fun with interactive elements!

Action Steps


Choose one way to make a window


Add a pocket for treasures on your page


Add a flap to extend your pages


Riet lives with her husband near the coast in North Germany where she enjoys capturing her memories and feelings in journals and albums. If she isn’t covered in paint and glue she writes stories or photographs the nature outside her door.


  1. Charlotte Erichsen

    So many goodies in this tutorial! Thank you so much, Riet! Now I need to create a journal for this season – I just worked in a magazine so far…

    • Riet

      Oh, wow. That’s sounds cool! Weren’t the pages too thin?

      • Charlotte Erichsen

        Mostly only did some writing and collaging… watery color wouldn’t work.

  2. Katie Smith

    I LOVE these Riet! and your video is so good, I love seeing them in action.

    • Riet

      Aw, thank you, Katie!

  3. Divyam Bernstein

    Wow what a treat, Riet! So wonderful to have a glimpse into your beautiful journals. I can’t wait to get flapping and pocketing in my journal!!! Thanks for a wonderful tutorial!

    • Riet

      Thank you so much! I can’t wait to see how you will add them in your journal!

  4. Laura Rahuba

    Yay, I’m so excited to try some of these! Your examples are very creative and pretty.

    • Riet

      Thank you,Laura! Glad you like them! Have fun!

  5. Eleanor McComb

    Second best thing to sitting down and looking through all your journals. So beautiful and I have so many ideas now!!

    • Riet

      Yaaay! I love that you feel inspired!! xx

  6. Melody Willoughby

    Oh my, your journals are always so fun. I will definitely try one or nine of your ideas. Thanks!

    • Riet

      Thanks, Melody! I loved sharing them with you! Have fun!

  7. Clare Davis Etheridge

    Fabulous! Tomorrow is my Get Messy day, so I can’t wait to try!

    • Riet

      I love that you have a Get Messy Day, Clare!

  8. Amber Coulter

    Your journals are absolutely gorgeous Riet!!!

  9. Misty Granade

    This is so cool!!

  10. Gilly Welch

    So many fabulous ideas Riet, I love the idea of extending the page with beautifully created flaps…exciting!

    • Riet

      Thank you, Gilly! Flaps are my absolute favorite! 🙂

  11. Emily@squiggleandswirl

    RIet, your journals are so beautiful and just amazing! It was such a treat to see them ‘in action’, thank you so much for sharing your ideas and your art. Emily x

    • Riet

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Emily! It means a lot! xx

  12. Sasha Zinevych

    Your voice, Riet! *heart eyes* Brilliant tutorial! So many good ideas. I wanted to try interactive elements for so long. Now is the time!

    • Riet

      Oh, please! You make me blush! It took so much COURAGE to do a voice over! Argh! It was the hardest. But I thought, with you guys I can do 20 seconds! 😀

  13. Rebecca Johnstone

    This is amazing – love all the ideas and definitely want to try this now!