In the first of what I hope to be regular book reviews, I’d like to offer my thoughts on:
Art Journal Kickstarter: Pages and Prompts to Energize Your Art Journals (2015)
Kristy Conlin (ed.). North Light Books. 144pp.
First off, it’s good to find a book on art journaling that doesn’t regurgitate the various way of working with mixed media in a book. This one is illustrated with ‘back-to-back journal pages’, each accompanied with a Q&A summary with the artist. The questions tend to follow a pro forma – what was your inspiration; which mixed media artists inspire you; what interesting or unique techniques did you apply to this work. Alongside these ‘interviews’ are quotes and sayings that are more than suitable to include in your own work, or to stimulate creative juices. There are also some gems, suggesting the artist was less than impressed with the interview questions – such as describing art journaling as their ‘yoga mat’.
There are 99 contributing artists, resulting in a true variety of styles, subjects and techniques. Just about every mixed media technique is covered, including watercolour, collage, image transfer, acrylics, stamping and inks. It’s also nice to see carefully assembled pages alongside cathartic explosions of emotion, exploring the range of uses of an art journal from experimenting with materials through diarising one’s day to illustrated quotes and expressions. There are also various sizes and types of journal leaving the reader no excuse when trying to find a suitable book to work in.
The illustrations are in rich colour (as they need to be) and aren’t annoyingly cropped to fit the page. This does result in loss of detail on some of the larger spreads, but this doesn’t detract from the overall impact of the featured journal page. Each image is also accompanied by a short summary of materials used, which is often enough to work out the techniques used if this isn’t included in the Q&A section.
If one were to follow up all the artists who have inspired, many months could be lost online – and would be a great way of using the book as a further reference for art journaling inspiration. The advice to other art journal makers are pretty much of a muchness: it’s your book, your own artistic expression, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise, including yourself. This in turn does lead to the implied rule: don’t compare your own pages to those featured in the book – that’s not what it’s for!
One other thing I noted – certainly less than 10%, and may be even just 5% of the featured artists are male based on the names. Is this because few men journal, or are less likely to submit work for publication, or some other reason? I’d love to follow one piece of advice given, which was to form a group to journal with – so if you’re a male art journaler, please get in touch!
Am I glad I bought it:
Who’s it for:
Someone already used to working in mixed media, looking for inspiration.
Estimated time spent reading:
Three to four hours – a fascinating insight into the artists, as well as the art.
Overall rating: 5/5