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One of the first things you’ll need to do when you start art journaling is choosing what type of book/notebook solution to use as your art journal “canvas”.

There are a TON of options out there for every taste and budget, so you’re sure to find something wonderful to use here!

I also have my review of the best art journals for art journaling – so that could also be a good place to start!

Here are some of my favorite choices:

Composition Notebook:

I love composition notebooks because not only do they have nice sturdy covers to use as a background to paint on, but they also usually have sewn binding, which makes it durable as well!

You can find composition notebooks at just about any retail, grocery, or drug store. They are very common and inexpensive, making them a great medium to use as your art journal! I usually have several “themed” composition notebooks I have going on at one time.

See This Post for Inspiration: How to Make an Altered Composition Notebook for Art Journaling 

Old Books for Art Journaling

Old books also make for a great blank canvas for creating an art journal. See our post on Preparing an Old Book for Art Journaling for some tips to make sure your book withstands the creation process.

You can find many old books to alter in many different places. My post on how I shop used book sales for art supplies should give you lots of great ideas to get started with!

Moleskine Journals:

Moleskine journals are a pricey but popular choice for making art journal books out of. They are one of my favorite notebooks to use for all types of creative journaling!

If you choose to go with a Moleskine notebook, choose one that is meant for watercolor/painting/art and be prepared to gesso and glue together pages as they do tend to be on the thin side for art journaling.

Spiral Bound Notebooks:

Spiral bound notebooks make for a good choice because the pages usually lay flat and you can find ones specifically for painting, drawing, and sketching in with thicker paper that can withstand the extra weight, such as the Canson XL Notebooks and Strathmore Visual Journals.

The downfall to spiral bound notebooks is pages can easily tear out and it’s difficult to make two page spreads in them, but they can be a great medium to try.

Individual Pages Put in Pocket Protectors in a Binder:

This is perhaps one of my favorite methods of keeping art journal because you can make your pages individually on loose sheets of paper (I use 110lb cardstock) and then slip them in plastic page protector sleeves and keep them in a binder.

You can easily reorder pages and move them around and add pages or take them out at any time. This is great if you create pages digitally and print them out also!

Handmade Books/Journals:

You can also try your hand at making your own books and journals as well. There are a number of great tutorials available here at our website you might want to check out!

Learning to make your own journals might seem intimidating at first, but it is a lot of fun to do, I promise! It’s a great way to use scraps of paper and create a custom one-of-a-kind journal that is perfect for exactly what you need!

Notebooks, Notebooks, and More Notebooks!

Now that we’ve explored the different types of journals available, you’re ready to choose one and get started in creating!

Note: This article was first published when this website was brand new, almost 5 years ago if you can believe that – so if you would like to know which the best notebooks and art journals are for this current year, you may also wish to visit our page here: The Best Art Journals – Updated!

What Are Your Thoughts? Any Recommendations for Art Journaling Notebooks I Might Have Missed?

I’m always trying out new journals, and would love to hear what types of notebooks and journals you like best for art journaling! Share your experiences, thoughts in the comments below!

And of course, if you have any questions about the different types of journals, we’re happy to help! Ask your comments in the comment section below, or join our Facebook group to connect with creatives world wide – we’re happy to answer any questions you may have!


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  1. Thanks for the great article! I really like the idea of using sheet protectors in binder method. My only suggestion would be to use archival plastic pages. Regular plastic does cause corrosion over time. And, I am pretty sure it’s possible to find a ‘matte’ or semi-matte finish archival page. I know I would prefer a more matte protector to see the artwork better 🙂 Again, thanks for the article – it’s great for beginners like myself!

  2. The Paperblanks notebooks are also really nice, I prefer them to Moleskine. They are acid free, and they can handle a lot of stuff inside. Plus, the covers are so beautiful! I use them for anything related to keeping memories. They are a bit expensive, but they worth it!

  3. I have to decided on starting an art journal. I used an old Starbucks planner I got for free since I had two of them. 🙂 the paper is quite thicker than regular notebooks but i glue two pages together to reinforce them. 🙂

  4. I have been wanting to do a family history journal and was having trouble deciding what type of book but now I will do the binder with plastic sheet protectors – archival kind. Thanks for the article! It really helped.

  5. Thank you for these suggestions! I’ve mostly been working on canvas and cardboard lately, but I’m trying to get back into working in a journal.

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