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Mixed Media Collage & Drawing: Visual Journaling

0:00 Origin of visual journaling
0:48 Creative freedom
2:35 Creating moods with color
4:38 Capturing moments of life

5:29 Xeroxes, postcards, photos
8:30 X-acto knife, scissors, utility knife
9:05 Adhesives
9:33 Realistic & abstract

12:09 Text & images
13:48 Layout & layering
15:38 Stickers, gel pens
17:13 Adding the date
18:11 Project flexibility & benefits

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Fill journal pages with collected images in a variety of materials.

Core Ideas

Brainstorming, Composition, Shape, Layering, Collage, Experimentation

Recommended Tutorials


Art Prof Caution

X-acto knives are extremely sharp and it’s really easy to cut yourself by accident!  We recommend wearing a kevlar glove on your hand which is not cutting to prevent injuries.

Art Supplies: Strathmore Softcover Sketchbook
Art Supplies: X-Acto Knife
Art Supplies: Scissors
Art Supplies: Cutting Mat
Art Supplies: Glue Stick
Art Supplies: Molotow Markers
Art Supplies: Paint Markers
Art Supplies: Kevlar Glove
Art Supplies: Gel Pens
Art Supplies: Old Photos
Art Supplies: Postcards


Marie Latham

Marie Latham
2018 Intern

“This was a super fun project that incorporated the creative eye and a little spontaneity! I actually regularly keep a bullet journal planner, so I create visual collages weekly to help me remember the fun I had that week and different assignments.

I collect tons of stuff—stickers, photos, magazine clippings, anything that catches my eye. I think it’s really fun to look back on collages you’ve done in the past and see what was visually interesting or what came up in your daily life during that time.

I’m much more of a “do-as-you-go” kind of person, so visual journaling is perfect for me, with its easy format and portability, and its incorporation of my mood and artistic intent. I’d definitely say to start with the big layer of stuff you want on the bottom and work your way to the small things you’ve gathered to avoid covering anything up.

I loved including parts of my day, like travelling into Boston and collecting cards from stores like Tatte, Dig Inn, and Muji! Super fun and rewarding to look back on where you are and what you’re thinking through visual journaling.”

Cindy Qiao

Cindy Qiao
Project Assistant

“This was such a fun project to do because I love spending any extra time I have cutting magazine pages that grab my attention. It was really relaxing and didn’t require any difficult thought or too much planning.

I think this is a perfect way to keep being creative, but also to release stress. It was really easy to get creative with it because the subject matter is already given to you and you get to just play around with it. I think visual journaling and collage in general is still a very difficult thing for me because with all of my art pieces I really like planning them precisely. But with the visual journaling, a lot of that control over the medium disappears because you have to compromise with the material.”

Overall, I think visual journaling is the perfect way to maintain creativity from day to day, even if you feel like you’re in a creative rut.

Partial Video Transcript

Lauryn: “This project idea is called visual journaling. It’s kind of like a cross between a sketchbook and a diary.”

Prof Lieu: “Where’d you come up with the idea?”

Lauryn: “When I was working over the summer teaching classes, two of my students had these visual journals that they would work on every day and they were just beautiful, and I asked them about it so they taught me how to do it and I started my own.

It totally changed my process of working as well. I was feeling really stuck in my artwork, wanting to make these really big paintings that were very serious, they didn’t really have anything not serious going on, so I used this as a way just to meet color palettes that I really liked”

Prof Lieu: “Is it sort of like a breath of fresh air for you, a change of pace?”

Lauryn:“Oh definitely, and I think it is for my teens as well. I think that’s one of the reasons why they do it.”

Prof Lieu: “It’s very low-key, less stress, without making a huge project that you spend hours and hours working on.”

Lauryn: “Right, there’s only as much commitment as you want to put into it. You can do it every day, and in fact I label the pages with the day and so do they. If I only do it a couple times a week that’s fine, or if I do it like once every two weeks, that’s fine too. It’s whatever I need to do it.”

Prof Lieu: “If I were a teacher and I was assigning this project to a class what type of time frame would you put it into?”

Lauryn: “This is a really flexible project and that’s one of the reasons why I love it so much. It can take up a whole class period, but also it’s a great project to either begin a class with or end a class with. If a kid finishes a project ahead of time and needs something to do, this is a really easy project to jump right into and work on until everyone else is done.”

Prof Lieu: “Do you feel like it’s a project you could give as a homework assignment or does it really have to be done in class?”

Lauryn: “I think it can be done as a homework assignment but it was more useful I think having it in class as something to bridge one project to another. I think if you want to take it home and work on it at home, that’s up to the students if they want to do that, but maybe doing a couple spreads a week would be a good homework.”

Prof Lieu: “Well it could be the type of project that you introduce in class and then you say to the students, ‘Okay, now do it on your own,’ where they really have more time and space to work on it.”

Lauryn:“I think what’s really important about it is that it encourages students to want to work in a sketchbook format and gets them to create every day, because it becomes a very personal project and something that they want to go to because it’s about themselves.”

Prof Lieu: “And I think sometimes with sketchbook assignments, if they’re too open-ended, students feel lost. They don’t know how to get started, so I like the fact that this project gives a particular format to work in, but it’s not so constrained that you can’t make it grow.”

Lauryn:“You know you get little knick knacks that you don’t use, like show cards from shows, or magazines… I read Art Forum, but then I have all these magazines and I don’t know what to do with them. This makes me feel less bad about having all that junk around. I could just cut it up and put it in the book and then it’s, it’s nice.”

Prof Lieu: “Do you have a rule that you have to cover all of the paper? Because that seems consistent throughout all of this.”

Lauryn: “Yeah, I feel like that’s a pretty standard thing that all of the kids have done, and that I’ve kind of picked up from them. There’s no empty page stuff. I think my sketchbook has more stuff all over the place, some pages not filled at all. With this, I like to cover the page until it’s totally full, and then it’s done.”

Prof Lieu: “Where do you get materials for collage? It seems overwhelming to think about where you get those images from.”

Lauryn: “I have a few really good sources. One of them is, I have way too many Art Forum’s at my house. These are giant art magazines that I read once to see which shows I want to go to and then kind of toss. Since they’re filled with art a lot of the hard work is already done for you, it already looks so pretty.”

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