An art journal is a creative diary for artists with many uses. These versatile journals can help artists plan their next masterpiece or engage in their creativity on the go.
You need the right supplies regardless of how you use your art journal. Here are essential art journal supplies everyone needs, plus bonus supplies you can use to add flair to your diary and make it uniquely you.
Quick Reference Art Journal Supply List
If you don’t want the details about the whys and hows of art journaling – use this quick reference list of art journal supplies. The list includes everything you may need to DIY your art journal, decorate an art journal, and get started with art journaling!
Read beyond the epic starter list for details on making an art journal and the best art journaling supplies!
Supplies for Making an Art Journal
- Cardboard, plywood, leather, or manufactured wood
- Cloth, construction paper, or poster board
- Embroidery thread, twine, glue, or even binder rings
- Creating the holes
- Needle or hole punch
- Specific art paper for your medium
- Construction paper
- Lined paper
Basic Art Journal Supplies
- Writing Implement
- Gel Pens are ideal!
- Watercolor pens are wonderful substitutes for watercolor paints
- Colored Pencils
- Oil Pastels
- Chalk Pastels
- Drafting kit
- Paint Brushes
- Watercolor paints
- Acrylic paints
- Oil Paints
Art Journal Supplies for Decorations and Flair
- Stamps & Ink
What is Needed in an Art Journal?
Now that we have the supply list out of the way, we can dive into what is needed to make, keep, and use an art journal.
The two things you absolutely need for an art journal are the journal and something to write with!
There are only two absolute necessities for an art journal: the journal and a writing implement. Many artists use their art journals for sketching or recording interesting artworks they see while out and about, and if this describes you, then you don’t need any fancy art journal supplies.
However, there are many different uses for an art journal, and pen and paper often won’t cut it. Some artists want to make their journals instead of buying something from the store!
How Do I Make an Art Journal at Home?
Making your own art journal is a great way to explore your creativity even before you start journaling. To make a homemade art journal, you will need the following supplies:
Material for Cover
Many materials can be used to make an art journal. You can opt to purchase a leather journal cover, which may make the process easier, or you can make your cover out of either cardboard or plywood and cloth. You may also choose to adhere construction paper, poster board, or art paper to your front and back cover so you can paint, sketch, or draw directly on the surface.
The most elegant journals are bound with thread. Use an embroidery needle and thread to create a tight bind for your diary. Be sure to consider the type of cover you have chosen, as most needles won’t be able to thread through a plywood cover, and even cardboard may be a challenge.
Other options for binding include glue, twine, and even binder ringers. If you opt for twine or binder rings, you will probably need a hole punch (and drill, depending on your cover) to make the holes, and if you use glue, be sure to use something that will bind to your chosen materials.
Paper is the last important thing you need to make your own art journal. You may need scissors or a paper cutter to cut your paper to the appropriate size for your journal and glue or staples to make larger sheets of paper from smaller scraps.
Not just any paper will suffice when it comes to making an art journal.
What is the Best Paper for an Art Journal?
Paper seems easy enough, but there are hundreds of varieties. The right type of paper depends highly on your intended use.
If you plan to use your journal as a portable easel for watercolor, you will want to make it out of primarily watercolor paper. Acrylics need thicker paper, while oils tend to leak through most normal papers. Most art papers will work for your journal if you intend to use it for mostly drawing and sketching, while lined paper is ideal if you wish to record your thoughts on artworks you see while out and about.
You may want to make a cheap, versatile journal, so consider making a junk journal out of ephemera, receipts, and random things you have around the house. Your journal’s different varieties of paper will allow you to use it for nearly anything.
Art Journal Supplies for Beginners
Moleskine is a fantastic journal company that’s most well known for bullet journals and professional journals. They make an excellent line of art journals suitable for sketching with graphite or charcoal. However, these journals aren’t ideal for painting.
Strathmore is a journal company more focused on artists. Strathmore’s mixed media journal will hold watercolor, gouache, acrylic, graphite, pen & ink, marker, pastel, and even collage, making it one of the most versatile art journals money can buy. The company also makes journals specifically for sketching and watercolor.
Neither of these journals is ideal for oil. However, you may be able to stretch the pages to the limit by covering them with a layer of gesso before applying oil. Be sure to let the gesso dry before using paint.
Supplies for Art Journaling
Because there are so many uses for an art journal and so many artistic mediums to explore, it’s challenging to limit a list of supplies for a beginner. The supplies you will need greatly depend on how you use your journal.
It might be best to stick to one or two mediums when starting out. Decide whether you will paint with acrylics, oil, or watercolor in your journal and limit your supply purchases to required items for that medium.
In contrast, you may want to use your journal for drawing and sketching. You may consider artists’ pencils with heavy graphite or colorful pastels if that’s the case.
How Do You Decorate an Art Journal?
The sky is the limit when decorating your art journal. I enjoy buying sticker packs and decorating the covers and margins with inspirational stickers. Others may want to decorate the cover with an original painting or drawing.
I’ve seen art journals decorated with natural elements as well. Glue seashells in patterns to create frames for images, add glitter for a lovely sparkle, or tape inspiration images to your cover as a motivational collage.
The only thing that matters when decorating your art journal is that you have a good time doing it and love the results.
Can I Make Own Art Journaling Supplies?
Although you can make your own art journal, making the supplies is outside the scope of this post. There may be folks out there who mix their own paints, melt their own wax for crayons, or design their own stickers for decoration.
I envy folks who are dedicated enough and creative enough to make their own art supplies. It’s a fascinating skill you should explore if you desire!
Where to Get the Best Art Journal Supplies?
Michaels is the best place to get all your art journal supplies, especially if you’re a beginner. Michaels carries most of the top brands for artists, including Winsor & Newton paints, Faber-Castell colored pencils and Strathmore journals.
Michaels also carries various papers, paints, books on color theory, sticker books, stencils, drawing supplies, and everything else you could possibly need to start your art journal.
However, if you’d rather shop at an independent store, consider shopping online at A Cherry on Top. This art supply store is online only and offers great deals on a wide array of your art journaling needs.
Alternatively, consider purchasing an art journaling kit from Amazon if you want to get everything in one package. Different varieties make great gifts for artists of all ages.
Start Your Creative Journey Today!
Art journaling is a fabulous way to embrace your creativity on the go. With so many different ways to use an art journal, it’s no wonder they are becoming increasingly popular. Don’t let fear of not knowing where to start prevent you from exploring your imagination and diving into one of the most popular new journaling methods.
Grab your favorite art journaling supplies and let inspiration strike! Who knows, you may discover a hidden talent or create a masterpiece when you least expect it.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.