Most journals are created using mainly text together with a smattering of photographs and memorabilia and have minimal enrichment in terms of design and visual features. But there is no reason why a journal should not have plenty of graphic and enhancing elements to make it a real treasure.
So you love to write and have no trouble filling pages of your journal, but why not make your journal shine by using a few simple visually appealing ideas? Using lots of text may explain and give great detail about your thoughts and feelings but using sound visual presentation techniques will make your journal into an heirloom for future generations while giving a clear impression of what each aspect of your life was like.
Here are a few tips to help you make your journal a precious keepsake:
1. Prepare and Plan
Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start and overwhelm sets in to block progress. To prevent this a little planning and forethought can be helpful. Things you need to think about include:
- who or what is the subject or main theme of the journal?
- what size and style will be suitable? – will you need to be able to add to it later for instance;
- think about some headings to break down your main theme further into “chapters”;
- what is your budget? will you purchase expensive materials or use “found” items?
- how much time do you have? is there a deadline and if so what methods will be best to enable you to meet it?
2. Ideas for Your Journal Layout
It’s important to have a design format for your pages to make sure that you can fit everything in satisfactorily. Different pages can have different layouts depending on the balance between text, photos and other elements. Some ideas to consider are:
Newspaper style layout – with columns of text of different heights broken up by visual elements and titles. This looks effective if black borders are used for the page itself and the individual columns. Use black, grey and white colours and maybe use one vivid primary coloured element for a striking effect.
Collage approach – using torn edges and built up layers of other relevant items. Use different textures and experiment with all the elements till you find a pleasing balance. Finally, add drawn or painted elements.
3. Create Visual Themes for Different Aspects of Your Journal
Themes can be used to interpret specific events or subjects for individual pages or for the whole journal. The pages are then designed in keeping with the chosen theme. For instance if the page is describing a boating holiday, choose colours and elements with a nautical aspect.
4. Choose Suitable Photographs
Photographs and pictures can apparently paint a thousand words so choose the ones which describe the event or aspect which triggers the memory. Use your journal text to enhance the story behind pictures and memorabilia. Don’s try to put in too many – less is more in this context and simple layouts are more effective. If you have a sequence of pictures and need to include more than can be displayed, use an envelope (you can make or buy these, and attach to the page. consider decorating and tilting your journal entries and envelope to achieve an attractive result. Lastly, while quality is important, don’t worry if yours are not perfect – journals are a personal record and the most important aspect is the memory of the moments recorded.
5. Include Memorabilia
Old ticket stubs, clippings from newspapers or brochures, snippets of cloth, dried flowers, shells; all these things and many other tokens can preserve memories for you and for those you pass your journal to. They give a greater depth of meaning and add a sense of place and time to your journal. You can either glue or attach to the relevant page, or, if there is too much or permanent attachment will cause damage, then make up / purchase an envelope to hold your precious memories and glue that to the journal page.
As a final idea and in conclusion, many people make gifts of mini journals which have been created based on specific people and events, others keep their journal as a purely personal record. Whatever your motivation you need to consider carefully how you will preserve your journal and its contents over time.
The most important element in this regard, is choice of materials. Use good sources (scrap booking and art suppliers) to make sure that the adhesives, papers and cardstock are suitable for your purpose.
Paper and card especially must be acid free otherwise it could immediately react with photographs and memorabilia items on contact, starting a process of discolouration and general deterioration. One idea to ensure you keep some sort of record in case of disaster, is to photograph or scan your journal pages and store the results digitally. That way the long term enjoyment of your creation will be safeguarded.
About the Author: Mo Redman
Mo Redman is founder and regular contributor to http://lightbulbmomentsforyou.com where she records the rocky rides and occasional pleasure cruises of life.