3 Ring Binder Art Journal
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Today I thought I’d share some tips + ideas to create a journal in a 3-ring binder. You can create an art journal, a junk journal, a planner – anything really – in a binder.

It’s been several, several years since I’ve last created any kinds of journal in a three-ring binder, but recently while stash busting through all of my old journals and notebooks I realized binders would be a great way to organize stuff a little more cohesively – and actually even be able to find it + reference it a lot easier again later.

I also like to cut out a lot of interesting articles from different magazines I’m cutting and sometimes those are just too big to fit into a composition notebook or my typical 6×9 sized junk journals.

It’s been so long that I used 3-ring binders for journaling I forgot just how much I love to use them!

Three ring binders typically remind us of stuff like school assignments, math homework, office presentations + boring stuff like that, but honestly they are great for art journaling + today I thought I’d make a good case for them on why you might want to try it!

6 Reasons Why Three Ring Binders Are Awesome for Art + Junk Journals

1. You Can Move The Pages In Any Order

One of the things I love about my easy peasy elusive perfect no-sew junk journal binding method is it is easy to take out and add pages if you like – but there is still one caveat with that method, which is we fold the papers in half so you’re still attached to another page of the journal.

With a journal in a binder, you aren’t tied to any other page – you can easily move another one anywhere you like, or even reorganize the whole journal. You might even decide later to cut that page up + use it for something else!

I like this as a method for making a journal because you can keep adding in pages in any random order as you make them, knowing that you can *ALWAYS* go back in + change them!

2. You Can Work Flat

Another advantage to 3 ring binders as an art journal is you can work flat – you don’t have to try and make your art in a book!

This is is really nice sometimes when you are making different things because you either don’t want your paint to drip somewhere else or you’re trying to glue stuff down + everything keeps bubbling because the pages underneath it aren’t flat!

3. You Can Go Big!

I’ve been wanting to make some big collage pages + art journal pages and while I love, love, love Dylusions big 11″ art journals for nice big pages, there are still the caveats of not being able to work totally flat.

The Dylusions journal does lay flat for the most part, but stuff underneath will always sometimes be an issue when glueing or painting!

With a 3-ring binder, you can make all the 8.5×11 or even a few 9×12 pages to your hearts content! You could even go 12×12 if you wanted to go really big + use a 3-ring scrapbook album!

And of course, if you do like to work small – there’s TONS of options for that also, whether you go for a half size binder or even a Filofax/Planner size binder.

4. Pockets + Page Protectors!

One of the things I want to do a little more of this year is pocket journaling, and of course a 3-ring binder is the perfect way to enjoy all the zillions of different types of pocket pages you can throw in them!

You can also use full sheet page protectors for anything you don’t want to punch holes in or even use them for storing ephemera + magazine clippings to use later. Doing that helps keep stuff IN the journal and out of containers to be forgotten + lost!

Which leads to the next advantage:

5. Stop Worrying About Organizing Your Ephemera + Magazine Cut-Outs

I’ve written about organizing magazine and ephemera cut-outs many times and while I am still a HUGE fan of project boxes for specific projects I know I want to make, one of the things I really wanted to stop doing was just throwing stuff in a container + forgetting I even had it!

Using 3 Ring Binders as a journal gives you total freedom + flexibility to actually put that stuff to use! You can either glue it down when you cut it out or throw in a pocket to use later without taking up a whole lot of space on your shelves.

This is also a great way to make your own collage sheets for words and phrases + smaller items you cut out!

6. Save Interesting Articles or Book Pages That Have 2 “Good Sides”

When I’m cutting up stuff to use for collage + gluebooks, a lot of times I’ll come across whole entire articles that are interesting or helpful and I don’t want to cut them up.

Three ring binders are great for this because I can add a reinforcement strip to the article, punch holes into it or even stick them in a pocket or folder.

If you’ve never made a journal in a 3 ring binder all of these reasons will hopefully inspire you to give you a try!

What You Need…You Probably Already Have!

The nice thing about these 3-ring binder journals is you probably already have what you need and if not, almost ANY store sells these things (even a lot of grocery stores + drug stores, though they’ll always be cheaper at stores that have dedicated office and school supply sections!)

Three Ring Binder + Hole Punch

There are zillions of types of binders + hole punches. Basic economy school ones and my trusty amazing favorite heavy-duty hole punch are my favorites, but of course there’s plenty of other options too.

I ordered this economy pack of binders at the start of the school year since we have 3 kiddos who needed them (and if I’m being honest, I also had some crafty ideas for using them!) They are pretty nice, with pockets on the inside covers + outside covers to slide in photos or artwork or a cover.

If you’re going for a different size binder than your standard 3-ring binder with 8.5 x 11 inch pages, you will just need to make sure that you have a punch that matches whatever types of holes you need.

Fortunately, a LOT of hole punches out there today are made specifically for different kinds of planners and binders and there are even ones with adjustable punching options.

And that’s it really – that’s all you need! Scissors and a glue stick are nice to have too – but even scissors are optional in my opinion, you can always rip + tear things!

How I Like to Set Up Binders for Journaling

There is really not a whole lot of set up involved in using a binder – the whole point of it is to be fun + easy to fill up with almost anything that you can move around later!

But, I do like to get some stuff in there ready to use to inspire + motivate me to work in it + keep making stuff, so I thought I’d share some ideas for things you can put in it to get started!

Gelli Prints + Various Art Background Papers

I love making gelli prints so this is a great way to use them (and even a good excuse for making more!)

Printed Out Papers

If you’re like me, you probably print out a lot of stuff and there’s always either extra things or even some pages that don’t print the way you meant them too – these types of journals are great for that because you can easily cover them up with things you’ve cut out or make art on them!

Because I design a lot of printables for our premium graphics site SteinMixedMedia.com, I’m always testing them out to get them just right + so definitely have a lot of them to use up this way too!

And of course, if you love designing your own papers or buying digital goodies from your favorite designers, this is a great way to use those too!

Junk Mail (Of Course!)

Our 2022 End of Year Stashbusting Challenge has really pushed me to use all my junk mail in new ways!

There’s so many ways you can use junk mail in a 3-ring binder journal from pockets and blank pages to make art on or even use as reinforcements for other pages.

Articles + Pages From Books

There are so many times I cut out book pages + magazines where I want to use both pages – this is the perfect opportunities to use those articles + pages + more without worrying about which side is the “good side”.

You can reinforce a lot of pages with a strip of junk mail or even pretty paper down the side for punching holes, and don’t forget you can always paper clip things on instead of gluing directly onto the page as well!

Pocket Pages + Sheet Protectors

I LOVE pocket pages + sheet protectors for these kinds of journals and so they almost always work their way into any kind of journal I make.

The nice thing about these is you can make smaller things like ATCs and tags + have a fun place to put them!

Anything Else That’s Flat!

And of course – you really can put anything in a journal. If it’s flat + you can stick it in a pocket or poke holes in it, it’s fair game for a 3-ring journal (or any journal, honestly!)


I hope this inspires you and I’m so excited by the different 3-ring binders I’ve put together for journaling in for 2023!

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