Playful Printmaking

Hello Get Messy Family!

I am thrilled to share one of my favorite art journaling techniques with you. This is one that I find easy to do, inexpensive, great for all levels, and perfect for the traveling artist as it is portable and can be done just about anywhere without a lot of setup.

In this tutorial I show you how I use a simple printmaking technique to create backgrounds or first layers that can be used for starting or for creating collage elements for future pages. The one rule to this technique is that there are no rules. Let go. Play. Have fun. Invite serendipity, and mix your mediums to see what interesting effects you can achieve.

Warning: This technique can be addictive and hours may fly by like minutes.

I share a little bit of my approach in real time and then speed up the rest just so you can get a sense of how I work from one page to the next. The goal is to expose you to some suggestions for using the technique to free your muse and tap into dormant creative play. At the end I return to real time conversation as I walk you through the end results of my playful prints.


Step 1: Gather your supplies. It helps to have everything you think you want to use in arms reach so that you don’t have to stop the creative flow of energy once you get into a rhythm.

Step 2: Lay out the ziploc-style freezer bag and add mediums to it a little at a time until you figure out the right mix of products.

Step 3: Flip the bag onto the paper or lay the paper on top of the bag. Either will work and both will yield different results.
I started with my Tombow Markers because it’s my tried and true medium for this style of printmaking.

Step 4: Continue to try different combinations of products as you play and explore.

Step 5: Use the printed papers in collage or as background for your art journal pages. You could also use the printed papers to make journal covers of all sorts.


  • Start with the products that are more fluid. End with the permanent products as they will adhere to the bag differently and may cause paint to crossover from one print to the next.
  • Use various mark making tools to see what effects you can create.
  • Don’t be afraid to layer your print runs on previously printed pages.
  • You need less paint than you think you do.
  • The bag is plastic and will likely tear or rip after extended use.
  • Buy inexpensive bags so that you don’t feel the need to covet them.
  • Try a variety of papers. This is where the fun can really kick into high gear. Try craft paper, toned paper, printer paper, envelopes, cardstock, calligraphy paper, fountain pen paper, etc, etc, etc.
  • Embrace your “mistakes” and “mishaps”.
  • Play with abandon.

Supplies/Tools I Used (or recommend):

  • A Ziploc style freezer bag
  • Paper (recommend Mix Media or Watercolor Paper)
  • Acrylic Paint
  • 3D Fabric Paint
  • Watercolor brushes
  • Tombow Markers
  • Acrylic Inks
  • Liquid Watercolor
  • Brayer
  • Mark making tools (bubble wrap, skewer, stencils, palette knife, craft stick, etc)

Once you have played as much as you can stand, you can begin to use your printed papers in your art journal as journaling cards, collage elements, journal covers, background for larger works of art, and so much more. I hope you’ll give this technique a try and allow yourself to get lost in play for hours. If you are a beginner, this is a great way to let go of expectations and the desire to get a specific result. If you are seasoned, this technique is a great way to explore new products, papers, and possibilities. Try mixing colors you typically don’t use. Allow yourself to create without a project in mind. Just play and see what happens. I look forward to seeing your work and being inspired by your creative play. Be sure to share on Instagram and in our Get Messy Forums.

With a joyful heart,



Kiala Givehand is a published poet, bookbinder, creative business strategist, teacher, fountain pen collector, and radical nomad. She believes in surrounding herself with ordinary humans who live extraordinary lives, gathering with people who make her laugh & love uncontrollably, and living a life intent on cultivating happiness.


  1. Patricia Shimozo-Allen

    I can’t wait to play with this technique! Thanks Kiala

    • Kiala Givehand

      Yay Patricia! I’m excited to see what you do with it. It’s loads of fun and serendipity.

  2. Clare Etheridge

    So fun! Thanks for all the ideas Kiala!

    • Kiala Givehand

      Clare! You’re very welcome. I hope you’ll give it a try and see what you get. Happy creating.

  3. Patricia

    Thanks for this tutorial! I am pretty excited to get out a ziplock ASAP. Also-your pocket accordion book is wonderful!

  4. CIndy Jacobs

    This looks like so much fun — I can’t wait to try it. I love all the ways you made colorful backgrounds with a lot of ease and looseness! Thanks so much!

  5. Kelli CRESWELL

    So fun! Can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Jennifer Lee

    HOLY WOW THIS IS COOL! I can wait to try – thank you!!

  7. Chris Silker

    I love this idea so much! Sometimes I want to make prints, but the Gelli Plate feels like too much work – this seems perfect and portable. And I’m looking forward to trying it with my nieces – I think they’ll have a lot of fun.

  8. Lisa Monconduit

    Great tutorial