The {in}Complete List of Art Journal Supplies

art-journal-suppliesIf you are new to art journaling, you may wonder what type of art journaling supplies you might need. Before you go out and spend a fortune at the craft store, the good news is you can get all of you art journal supplies very inexpensively – and many you may already have at home! The possibilities are truly endless for what can be used in making an art journal, which is why we’ve appropriately titled this post the {in}complete list of art journal supplies!

Starting Canvas: Paper, Notebook, or Old Book

The first thing you will need is something to use as your canvas for your creations. I have used loose cardstock (I like 110 lb the best as it is sturdy and holds up well to watercolor & acyrlic paints without warping too much) – I have also used old books, as well as notebooks, old magazines. Just about anything can be transformed into an art journal canvas as long as it can be painted/drawn on.

See: List of Things You Can Use as an Art Journal Book/Canvas

Painting Supplies

You don’t have to use paint in your art journal, but it sure is fun! I’ve used everything from my kid’s Crayola watercolors and acrylic paints to the more expensive stuff you get at art supply stores. If you’re on a limited budget, I recommend starting off with whatever is readily available and inexpensive to you. You do NOT need to spend a fortune on painting supplies to make an art journal!

If you are going to invest in anything for painting, I would suggest high quality brushes. It really is worth the extra $$ on good brushes! Cheaply made brushes can fall apart or leave loose strands in your artwork! You don’t have to spend a fortune, but getting set of good brushes will not only make you feel more like an artist, but also avoid the hassle of loose brush strands on your work!


If you’re going to use acrylic paints in your work, you may definitely want to check out working with gesso! Gesso is similar to paint primer and is great for covering up mistakes, creating blocks or sections for journaling, or just adding some texture to your pages. I also use Gesso quite a bit when making altered books and journals from composition books, as it helps prime and strengthen the page for my artwork later on. Gesso can be a bit pricey, but it’s also a lot of fun to work with. I’ve found it as low at $9 a bottle at my local Wal-Mart or you may also be able to purchase it in bulk online or at craft shops for deeper discounts.

Pens & Markers

A set of nice pens and markers is also nice to have, but don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune on pens either. Try to look for pens which are water proof or water resistant if you’ll be working with watercolors or wet surfaces and it’s worth reading the reviews on pens as well. I’m still yet undecided on my favorite pens for art journaling, but I’ve found that most gel pen brands work okay for most uses. You can also use ball point pens if you have nothing else. Don’t let getting hung up over not having the right kind of pens keeping you from getting started in art journaling!

Markers are also nice to have. I am a big fan of Sharpie fine tip markers (the in-between-medium sized ones) – the ultra fine will wear out within a few weeks, but the bigger ones seem to be a little longer lasting. They come in a variety of colors now. You can also look at other craft markers available at craft stores to see if they have something water resistant or permanent you might like.

Colored Pencils/Crayons

Colored pencils and crayons are really nice when traveling (not so messy!) and are relatively inexpensive, especially if you stock up during back to school times when they are often on sale.

Something also worth considering are water color pencils or water soluble crayons – these are fun to use as well!


Ink can come in spray bottles or in pads and can be a lot of fun for creating with if you’re able to get some. With ink, you’ll probably want to get some stamps – but if that’s not in the budget no worries! – See below on ideas for making your own.

Household Items to Use for Stamping

I’ve been amazed at all the household items we have that I’ve been able to use for making my art journals with! Just about anything can be turned into a stamp – old paper towel tubes, kid’s toys, lids and caps from bottles, hardware pieces such as nuts and bolts glued to a piece of cardboard or wood…the possibilities are endless! I will likely be creating a post about some of my homemade stamps very soon because they are so fun to work with and the price is right. 🙂


Stencils are also a lot of fun to work with in your art journal pages. You can either attempt making your own (hopefully will have a tutorial on this soon!) or you can purchase them relatively inexpensively from most craft stores or you can get alphabet stencils at just about any retail shop.

Paper Cut-Outs, Reciepts, Tickets & Other Misc. Ephemera

If you’ll be incorporating collage into your art journal pages, you’ll want to start collecting paper bits of things to include on your pages. These can be printable things you download from your computer, or cut outs from magazines, or maybe you start saving wrappers and receipts.  Old books, newspapers, and more can all be great places to find stuff to include in your art journals!

Getting started in art journaling does not have to cost you a fortune for supplies or hours at a craft store! You’ll be amazed at how far just some basic paints, pencils, pens & markers and a good notebook can get you in learning this wonderful craft!

Glue & Adhesives

If you’re going to do any collage work in your journal or plan on gluing book pages together you’re definitely going to want to have a lot of glue on hand for your projects! They make a number of archival safe glues – but if that’s not in the budget traditional white glue will work okay too.

Wax Paper/Parchment Paper

While you’re working between pages in your book or creating an art journal from an old book or notebook, you will find placing wax paper or parchment paper in between each page to be a huge help in the process of prepping your book! It can also help avoid paint spilling onto other pages of the book while you are working.

Are there any art journal supplies you consider essential we may have missed? What are some of your favorite products to use when art journaling? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!

We’ll also be keeping this list updated and be hopefully adding some product reviews & recommendations to our site as well as more tutorials on creating your own supplies soon so don’t forget to stay updated through our RSS Feed or Follow Us on Facebook.

Comments 9

  1. I was thinking artist chalks would be a good medium to work with. I got a nice set for under $5 at our local A. C. Moore craft store. It has a lot of different colors and hues and they are pretty easy to work with for shading and using as background colors. I didn’t notice them on the list and thought I’d share.

    • Profile photo of Chelle Stein

      Hi Terri! Those do sound like they would be fun to work with! We don’t have an A.C. Moore here but I’d imagine I could find them at Michaels perhaps – I will definitely have to check those out! Thanks for the idea!

  2. OK…..I”m getting psyched just reading all this stuff! Thanks for getting my creative juices. I have wanted to
    start journaling for 5 years and never knew this little “sub culture” existed, till I found a Pinterest entry.
    Thanks everyone. Fun to get my head back into art again….and I love the Sisterhood and willingness to
    share~ Chicken soup for my soul ladies!

  3. Other good items for texture with gesso include the plastic netting from fruit – citrus – bags. Lay down a scrap of bag, gesso over it, and pull up the bag! You’ll have a nifty pattern like diamonds or squares.

  4. Thank you for mentioning the use of crayola products. When I got into art journling I used crayola watercolors and one of those cheap art kits for kids, the kind that come with color pencils, cheap markers, crayons, and oil pastels (that are more like a dried up crayon, to be honest). So many blogs and websites out there only do reviews on the expensive products and people think that they have to use the same items to get the same effect.

    In most cases that is up to personal opinion. I like my crayola watercolors as well as the student grade tubes I purchased from Michael’s. I even love combining the two, or going over watercolor pencil with them. Thanks for keeping it real. 🙂

  5. I have a lot of different stuff stored for years. I’m trying to go thru my stuff and see what I need. I need some gesso and some white glue. It is really nice how people share their different tips and ways to rely on their creativity. Thanks

  6. I use the plastic bags that held my kids’ cereal. I cut them open into large rectangles and use them as page protectors when journaling. I think tney would also work to stop thepagesfrom sticking.
    I think that thick, slightly opaque plastic from cereal is called glassine in the States?

  7. I recently made an art journal for a school project and used a matte gel medium to transfer images from one page to the next. I like it better than mod podge because then I won’t have to deal with the texture that the mod podge has. Whereas the gel medium makes it feel like it is actually on the page!

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