People have been making art for thousands of years. The earliest cave dwellers attempted to document their lives. Simple pigments were spit onto the wall or they applied them with sticks and twigs, these were the tools people used to document the hunt.
The first art journals were on the cave walls.
I am not attempting to create a divide between art journalers and scrapbookers, nor a turf war. (Get off mah lawn!) I think we can all coexist peacefully with our different manners of expression, and overlapping expression.
What I do think is that we need to look at the stuff we’ve accumulated and see how we can better fit these tools into what we do in our art journals.
How can we use them more?
How can we adapt them?
How can we break the rules?
How can we use the tools to express ourselves more fully?
This is the essence of the cult of stuff.
Take what we’ve got and experiment with it.
Rising up against the machine of the industry aimed at our wallets. Or really just being aware of how we are targeted to buy more. Everyone wants to buy their latest product. Machines like the Cricut (here goes any chance of EVER being sponsored by provocraft) are crippled for use outside of their very narrow set of rules. To use them you HAVE to use their carts with their designs and they give you a set of instructions for how to put it all together. Rather than giving you a program like Makes-the-Cut which unlocks the real potential of the cricut. With it you can cut and create anything you want. You can make layers in a photo and cut that out. Amazing.
But it makes more fiscal sense for provocraft to have you buy cart from them at $40 each. That doesn’t open up your creativity. They help you some with a $30 (or is it more) program that allows you to mix up the stuff on their carts, which you still have to buy.
Then some brilliant people figure out how to crack it and give up programs like Make-the-Cut and Sure Cuts A Lot and really unlock the potential of the machine.
Meaning that you can break the rules.
Sometimes being aware of the difference in want and need. I might want that 2 inch circle hole punch but do I need it? Well, if I need to cut out 200 2 inch circles maybe, but if I’m going to cut out 5 2 inch circles maybe I should consider an alternative, like an exacto, scissors, or a click knife.
Do I need that shiny brass bijoux watercolor set or is my handmade mint tin set just as efficient and useful?
Some of the adaptation has been a lesson in letting go. Some were hard learned during those first few years right after college when I truly lived paycheck to paycheck. I survived by buying cases of ramen noddles ($5 for 24) and my fresh veggies off the “almost rotten” rack. I’d save a few dollars here and there and splurge once a month on a tube of watercolors or a pen. Sharpies would go missing at work. I drew in ballpoint.
My point is that I had to lean to let go of my notion that I needed the best and the most expensive artist grade paints.
I had to unlearn a lot of what I had learned. I did this by breaking a lot of rules. I learned to live my life.
I used scotch tape in my art journal.
I walked in Boston at 1 AM with hot pink hair and my good friend with bright blue hair, because we had nothing better to do that night and Boston at 2 am is beautiful. (It’s also incredibly stupid and dangerous, so kids don’t follow my path.) I documented the smells of Chinatown in August (yuck), the heat of Lynn at 1pm in July, the sound of firecrackers on July 4th, and how much my neighbors fought. Our lives aren't cookie cutter identical. Each one is unique.
I taped in bits and pieces of my life until it became whole and manageable and real.
Over time with hard work I’ve learned who I am and I’m still progressing.
So when I see corporations targeting art journaling and the journalers I get a little grumbly. Because I know you don’t need all that shiny stuff they want you to buy.
You need a journal, a pen, some glue/tape and you.
What you don’t need are rules.
You don’t need the trap of all the stuff holding you down and slick clever marketing campaigns targeting you to buy more and do less.
You need to be free of your stuff and the preconceived notions of what your art journal should look like.
Because it doesn’t have to look like anything but what you want.