The 1000 Journals Project

I have always been fascinated by 1000 journals project.  Browsing the website I enjoy the raw, unmediated creativity of it. Since the project started there has been a film made about it and a book produced. Today I thought I would share some links to this inspirational site

Graphic designer Brian Singer who goes by the name “Someguy” purchased blank journals real, physical book kind of blank journals and released them into the world in the summer of 2000 in other words he gave them to friends, left them public places such as coffee shops, book stores,libraries, park benches.The project is described as “…an ongoing collaborative experiment attempting to follow 1000 journals throughout their travels.” Inside each book the instructions are to write or draw in them, then scan and email the page spread before passing them on. The photos where published on the 1000 journals project website.

Although the journals are tracked on the website many have not returned. Andrea Kreuzhage a film maker discovered the stories and set about finding out what had become of them and made a film out of it.

Here the trailer launches with the question Where did your creativity go?

Here 1000 Journals Titles Sequence

If you want to know more about the people behind this project here is an interview by Matt McClure Interviews Andrea Kreuzhage

Visit 1000journalsfilm for info about the movie

On Youtube there is an interview with project organiser “Someguy” at AFI (American Film Institute) Fest

The book about the 1000 Journals Project

The 1000 Journals Project the book highlights page spreads from the project containing a has a myriad of different people’s writings, sketching, photographs and ephemera collaged to the pages. I have the book and enjoy the eyecandy factor very much. The book is a beautifully produced facsimile in the same style of casing as the original journals including in some cases machine stitching designs on the page spreads as the originals had been done. The book is not an instructional book at all but an inspirational treat that makes a great gift for creative people who have an interest in journaling.

The project is inspirational in nature and the website for the 1000 Journals Project never fails to stimulate me. Make a cuppa and enjoy the eye candy.

Finding threads of a story while traveling

Pilgrim shell dated 1200 ADI am not sure what I feel about omens as sometimes they sound like new age clap trap but I did pause to think about the person who carried this shell on a pilgrimage.

This shell dated at 1200 AD was found in the old city at Bristol. Now, the interesting thing about this shell is that this type of shell is not found in British waters. The scallop shell is the symbol of St James and worn by pilgrims as a sort of badge while walking the Santiago de Compestela in Spain. In times past it was believed to keep pilgrims safe and it was also handy to scoop water from streams and drinking fountains along the way. The shells have 2 holes drilled in them and are stung with leather. This enables them to be worn on belt or around the neck. The tradition is still alive as these days pilgrims still carry a shell but tie them to their back packs.

As regular readers know I am slowly heading towards France where Jerry and I are going to walk the Camino de Santiago. This pilgrimage is a 500 mile (800 Kilometres) from St Jean Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago in Spain. It will probably take us about 5-6 weeks to walk it but this shell was found in Bristol so who ever carried it to Santiago and back had a much longer than we do!

Needless to say I had to add a quick sketch to my travel journal. I used aquarel pencils, watercolour, pitt pens in a hand book journal which is 5 inches by 5 inches. The buff colored paper is about 140 gsm and takes a light wash.

Sketch of St James Sculpture 1400-1500

Yesterday we went to the V&A and who should I bump into but a small statue of St James dressed as a pilgrim. Well… Not literally bump as I am careful in a museum. It was found in the Midlands in England, dated 1400-1500. Made off alabaster this figure was probably used for personal devotion.

Once again it seamed appropriate to attempt a small sketch in my travel journal. It was done using graphite a aquarell pencils and I added a light wash of water when I was back at the hotel.

Sometimes stories unfold themselves in a journal. They can appear to be over a couple of days or couple of weeks. It is fun and interesting to watch for and pick up the threads of various stories as they interweave themselves into my life. So I don’t see omens but I do see stories.


Journaling is not about perfection

Journals don’t have to be perfect. This applies to all types of journals, studio journals, written journals, art journals or what I call observational journals. A quest for perfection is a curse.  They do not have to hand crafted pages of mini masterpieces on each opening. Something that really puzzles me is someone saying they have a collection of empty notebooks that they do not use because they might “spoil” them. Using them is what makes a notebook better. An empty notebook is just paper but put some ideas down or some doodles it takes on a life and becomes something interesting!

There are no rules in journaling. I have gathered together some You Tube videos of studio journals. I have featured them because they are from people who work in creative industries. They make their living from noticing, harnessing and working their creative ideas into something that will provide an income.  These visual/studio journals and sketchbooks are used to capture ideas. They are not finished artworks they are part of the creative process. Note the word part, often they are the start of something not the end of something. You will notice when you see these videos that you do not have to know how to draw. You can practice sketching in a journal – in fact it is one of the advantages of keeping a journal. It is a safe place to experiment, try out new ideas and develop your skills. The aim is to express yourself, and catch your ideas so that you can use them later.

Approaching your journal with the expectation of creating something beautiful is self defeating. The idea is to not feed an internal critic, causing all sorts of doubts and anxieties with a notion of what a perfect studio/art journal or sketchbook is. The idea is to get on with it, to stop thinking about some notion of perfection or creating a beautiful thing and actually do it. Journalling is verb its not an object in other words this is process and part of larger activity of living a creative life. It is not a noun, an object of beauty in its own right.  This process of journalling does produce something in the end but it is side effect of the process and when we start we don’t know how it might turn out!

Instead of thinking about a perfect thing, think about fun and allow yourself to be creative. A notebook is just paper. It has absolutely no worth as anything at all, until you have done something in it. Toss an empty notebook on a fire and you have lost nothing, toss a journal on a fire and you have lost a record of your experience.

Here is Zandra Rhodes at home in her studio as she shares her sketchbooks. She explains how that are the start of her highly original work. Everything about her makes me smile as it is all such a celebration of what she sees. I love the way that she tells us if you make a bad drawing – just live with it. I was also amazed at how thin the paper that she chooses to use is.

Suzette Morrow of is an artist and art educator, shares her ideas about Sketchbooks and Journals in this short 5 minute video she made

Stephen Harpster of Harptoons points out that Sketchbooks don’t have to be perfect the main thing is to use them – they were made to be used.

I hope seeing these journals has been useful and helps with the self doubts as journals are very powerful creative tool. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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