Art journaling for business

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I've been talking a bit lately about how I use art journaling as a way to help me in business. Particularly, as a way to work through things that are holding me back. I've got loads of interest over on Instagram so I thought I'd spend a bit more time talking it through.

Why I journal

I've always been a ‘feel-y’ person. I feel them all. The good and the bad. Sometimes that means I've had issues with anxiety. I am the queen of overthinking.  This means that I need a healthy way to purge all this emotion. Sure, there's the normal strategies, eating and overspending, but they weren't enough (and goodness knows I can't afford it). So I started journaling. Creative, arty journaling. It started as a typical written journal.  I just added splashes of colour with paint or stuck in the occasional picture from a magazine. I found that if the notebook was a pretty and fun place to be I'd write more often. And more writing meant better (mental) outcomes. And it progressed. 

When I journal

I have a written journal and what I call an art journal. They both have the same outcome. More mental clarity. It's just the method that changes. If I need to purge thoughts, I tend to go to write. If I am feeling emotional, I usually create. But there is no hard and fast rule. What matters is taking the vague (thoughts and feelings), and solidifying them into something tangible (sentences or art). But let's get practical.  

I write in my journal when…

  • I am feeling anxious. If I am worried about something, and the thoughts and ideas are just circling around in my head. 
  • If an event has happened and I am unsure or unhappy about how to move forward. I use my writing as a way to break down the steps that I need to take. 
  • If I have a new idea for my business. For example, if I want to launch a new event. I would free write all the ideas and images that I had. 

Writing in a journal doesn’t have to be long-form paragraphs. Use dot points if you want. Lists. I would encourage you to make sure you don’t just dump single words. To me, the real benefit of journaling comes from making my brain create a sentence. That’s the step that you need to take the spinning monkey thoughts and make them something that is concrete. It’s easier to determine how to deal with a written sentence than a thought. 


I reach for my art journal when…

  • I am feeling emotional. Happy or sad, anxious or angry. If I am in a prolonged state of some emotion that I need to work through, art helps me do it. The period of time I am creating is like a meditation. You are focusing on that emotion. The driver for your creation,  the colours and mental images that this emotion creates within you. 
  • I am feeling restless. Sometimes, I am procrastinating, or maybe I’ve got that irritating feeling that something isn’t quite right, but I don’t know what it is. I often have to intentionally ‘force’ myself to journal in this case, but it is valuable. 
  • If I want to transfer emotion into action. For example, I had a set of ‘feelings’ that I wanted to feel for 2020. But I wasn’t sure what that looked like. What could these ‘feelings’ be in reality? 
  • I just wanna get messy. 
One of the biggest arguments I hear from people when I talk about art journaling is ‘I am not creative’ or ‘I don’t have an artistic bone in my body’. See, the truth is, you aren’t creating a piece of art. You aren’t going to hang this thing in a gallery. It’s actually not about the final product. It’s about the process. The movement with your hands. The tactile process of cutting, pasting and playing with paint. It’s about stopping your brain and just spending time being led by your ideas. I’d encourage people to think of their creations like a first draft. That doesn’t mean that there is a second draft (unless you want to). But it is about knowing that what you are creating is just the start. Not the final product. 

How I journal 

What I use

Because I am not approaching my journal as an ‘art piece’ I don’t want to spend my money on high-end supplies. I use whatever I can get my hands on. Mostly they are leftovers from the kids. I use a mix of the following: 

  • Acrylic paint from the dollar store 
  • Paintbrushes of all sorts (again, cheap and nasty ones). 
  • Watercolour paints 
  • Coloured pens, both markers and fine points
  • Coloured pencils 
  • Leftover oil pastels from the kid’s school supplies 
  • Cheap scrapbook paper from dollar stores, Kmart, or even Spotlight on sale. 
  • Stickers (try Daiso for these!) 
  • Black pens of all thicknesses (sharpies down to fine points) 
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • White gel pens
  • Magazines. I LOVE Frankie magazine for this. The paper is gorgeous and I just always find illustrations or images that call to me. But I also use a lot of ‘Country Style’ mag too. Just go with what you can find. (note: I use both text and photos from mags). 
  • Art journals - from anywhere. OfficeWorks, Big W, any of that kind of place. I try to stick to the unlined and white paper. But that’s just my preference. 

My advice? Use whatever you have to hand. It really doesn’t matter. At this stage of the game, I have loads of supplies. My journaling style is driven by collage and colour. It’s just what I find myself doing more and more. So, all I really need is acrylic paint, brushes, magazines, glue/scissors and a couple of pens. That would be MY minimum. Yours will be different. 

Getting started
To get started in my journal I simply just sit at my desk. I am lucky at the moment because I have set up an old outdoor table with a plastic table cloth and everything just stays on it. Ready to go when I need. But before then I had a big plastic tub that I just threw everything in. Sometimes I just really feel the itch to create. Then it’s just a matter of allocating the time and going for it. At other times it’s not so clear. If I am really stressed by something I won’t think to journal. I too ‘in my head’ to really make the connection. If I am too emotional I will often ‘just not feel like it’. Both of those scenarios are triggers to me to actually make myself sit down and create. 

Go with colour and emotion
Colour and emotion are really my drivers in, well, pretty much everything. So when I am ready to journal that’s how I start.If I have a question in mind I reflect on that issue. I focus on how it makes me feel.  I look at the colours in my paint collection and just pick one. Wherever my hand lands. I add that colour to the page. That’s my starting point. Then I just keep adding. The video ‘my word for the year’ is done much like this. Starting with images is another way to ‘break the page’. With my burning question in mind, I start flicking through the magazines and just grab any images or text that strikes me. If you have a look at the video ‘How I want to feel’, this is how I did this page. Now, you can get on YouTube or Insta and go nuts searching for art journaling inspiration. It’s what I’ve done. But, the challenge with that is you can very quickly fall into the ‘not good enough’ trap. You’ll see beautiful artworks, fancy supplies. All of it. But that’s not what this is about. I would much rather you focus on creating what is right for you, rather than emulating what someone else does.  So watch away, but do it with caution. 

What I journal 

Well, I pretty much journal everything. But for the sakes of keeping this about business there’s a stack of prompts that you could use to get yourself started. Prompts to get you started 

  • Focus on the phrase ‘I am good enough’. Write that phrase in the middle of your page. Now create according to how the phrase makes you feel. 
  • Create a fiery image of all your self-doubts burning 
  • Create a spread with a strong, tall tree. Fill its trunk and roots with all of your unwavering strengths. 
  • Create a page that shows how you feel when you can say ‘fuck yes!’ to something
  • Create a collage of your future self. The self that you would be without any shame, filters or hiding holding you back. 
  • Create a page with a mask. What is the mask hiding

Or use the following as a way to kick start your creativity. 

  • How do I want to make my clients feel? 
  • If I could make the world a better place it would be 
  • You are writing a book - what’s it about?
  • What does success look like to you 
  • What's my big awesome dream that I just want to make happen.
  • My favourite quote 
  • What do I want my legacy to be?
  • Words to live by 
  • Things that inspire me 
  • My instinct is tell me to… 
  • I’m most proud of myself for…

Grab a printable version of this list  

Now go, create!

I can’t emphasise enough how much using my art journal has helped me in business, and of course, in my life. It has been so valuable to me that I am even incorporating more and more of these kinds of techniques into my personal branding workshops. 

You can read more about the Rainbow Within workshop, and how these techniques are part of the learning approach at Personal Branding Workshops

I have uploaded a couple of videos below to get you started. I also share snippets regularly on my Instagram page. So why not check it out!

Let me know how you go!

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