“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.”
― Christina Baldwin
Friends, one of my favorite posts of the year so far was one I shared with you all in January, about three simple ways to keep an art journal in 2017. That post focused on how to catch more of life’s little moments as they pass us by — whether it’s by creating a day-marker, or pulling together our favorite bus tickets, business cards, and other fun slips of paper into a memorabilia collage.
Today, I’m excited to focus on catching sources of inspiration with our journals. Just as it often feels like life is moving past me far faster than I can take hold of it, so does it feel like I receive inspiration from all sides these days, especially in the form of memorable quotes: from books, articles, newsletters, social media posts, podcasts, and the list goes on…
For me, the issue isn’t necessarily finding inspiration — it’s keeping track of everything that inspires me, in order for all that inspiration to truly inform my life and help me grow.
As I began keeping a regular art journal in 2016, a few favorite methods of catching and honoring sources of inspiration emerged.
Here are three simple ways I enjoy catching inspiration in my journal, in the hope that they’ll be helpful for you, too.
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1. Book quote collages
Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, then you are, like me, a voracious reader. There’s nothing I love more than the feeling of being absorbed in a good book — for me, it’s almost as vivid a journey as traveling through the physical world. I love the process of underlining and circling favorite quotes, giving certain pages a quick dogear, and sometimes even using colorful little post-it note flags, all in the name of making sure favorite passages won’t be forgotten.
But here’s the thing: Once I finish a book, those favorite pages often do fall to the wayside of my mind. After I place a book back on my shelf, I hardly ever take the time to return to it — and if I do, it can be hard to remember where a particular passage is.
And so, after I finished an especially resonant book last January — Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing — I had an idea. I ran to a print shop in my neighborhood, made a copy of the pages containing my favorite quotes, cut the quotes out at home (as pictured in the photo above), and then pasted them across two pages of my art journal, writing a key phrase or theme beside each quote. I’ve done such “book quote collages” for a few more favorite books I’ve read since then, and each time, I love the result:
These collages are like our very own SparkNotes summary for a book — a personal collection of inspiring quotes that we can easily return to and read again in the future.
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2. Hand-lettered quotes
As much as I enjoy creating book quote collages, sometimes there’s a quote you want to highlight even more — when tucking it on a page among a bunch of other quotes just won’t cut it — and for that, I love hand-lettering a single quote in my journal.
Of all the journaling ideas I’ve shared with you so far this year, this one might be the simplest to execute — all you really need is a pen, your journal, and a quote — and yet I also feel it’s one of the most meaningful ways to journal. Sometimes it feels like I come across a dozen memorable quotes a day — they’re frequently shared on social media, and even my daily meditation app Calm displays a quote at the end of each session (and they’re usually all worth saving to my phone!).
The problem, though, is that I often just read the quote once or twice and then continue going about my day. But by taking the time to hand-letter a quote that’s resonated with me, it’s a way of transforming that momentary flash of inspiration into a longer period of reflection that can even feel like its own form of meditation.
Working my way through a quote helps me think it over more slowly and understand it on a deeper, more meaningful level — word by word, line by line.
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3. Magazine collages
Last but not least, I wanted to share a few other collages with you, that I’ve made out of different quotes and images from magazines — and I specifically used airline in-flight magazines for these collages.
When I was growing up, I used to love poring over magazines in search of inspiring words or phrases, cutting the words out, and then creating collages with them. Last year, as I was traveling from San Francisco to Norway, I passed some time on the flight by looking through Norwegian Airline’s magazine. And as I did, phrases began to jump out at me, just as they did when I was little:
A home away from home
Immediately, I took out the glue stick and pair of children’s scissors I travel with, and decided to make my first magazine collage since childhood. Besides fun quotes and phrases, in-flight magazines are also a good source of inspiration for something else — large, gorgeous photos, often of places you’re either heading to or have just left. Norwegian Air’s magazine was no different; I found two large photos, used them as the background for my double-page collage, and then glued the phrases on top of them.
For me, these collages are not only a chance to reflect on the inspiration I’ve found, but to then also create something new out of that inspiration — in a way, it’s art that keeps giving.
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I didn’t mention the amount of time needed for each of these ideas like I did in our last post on journaling, because they’re not exactly as quick or clear-cut as a 5-minute day-marker — but I hope the simplicity of these ideas still comes across. All you need is a pen, glue stick, and scissors, and you can transform your art journal into a treasure trove of favorite quotes and inspiration.
We receive so much inspiration in our lives these days; my hope is that these ideas will help you document, process, and reflect on what inspires you — and even create something new out of it 🙂
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