What is Junk Journaling?

I think you might be surprised how hard it is to actually answer the question: “What is Junk Journaling?” Simply put, in my mind, junk journaling is a form of art journaling. But obviously, there’s a lot more to it than that. 

To add to the confusion, many “old school” junk journalers are purists: only things that would be considered actual junk (or ephemera) belong in your junk journals. 

Yet, I’ve seen many, many journalers use all brand new materials for their junk journals. 

So, who is right?

Well, I believe there are no rules in art, and junk journaling is no different. If you want to use ONLY junk and/or ephemera, do that. If you want to use mostly new supplies (especially things that have been sitting in your supply stashes for a long time!) then do that! 

I will say, if you’re using 100% new materials, that might be something else. Scrapbooking, possibly. Art journaling, maybe. 

But no matter what you use, creative exploration and expression is what it’s all about! 

But let’s get more details and finally answer the question: What is junk journaling, anyway? 

What is Junk Journaling?

Junk journaling is a form of art journaling in which individuals create journals using a variety of found and recycled materials, such as old books, magazines, newspapers, and other ephemera.

The term “junk journal” refers to the use of these found materials, which are often considered to be discarded or unwanted, in the creation of the journal.

In junk journaling, the focus is on using a wide range of materials and techniques to create a unique and visually interesting journal.

This can include collage, mixed media, drawing, painting, stamping, and other creative techniques.

Junk journaling can be a fun and creative way to repurpose materials that might otherwise be thrown away, and it can also be a therapeutic and expressive activity.

Some people enjoy creating junk journals as a way to document their thoughts and experiences, while others use them as a platform for artistic expression and experimentation. Many combine the two! 

Why Do People Junk Journal?

Junk journaling is a creative and expressive activity that allows individuals to repurpose found and recycled materials.

People may choose to junk journal for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Personal expression: Junk journaling can be a way for people to express themselves creatively and to document their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a unique and visually interesting way.

  2. Artistic experimentation: Junk journaling allows individuals to experiment with a wide range of materials and techniques, such as collage, mixed media, painting, and more. This can be a great way for people to develop their artistic skills and to try new, creative things.

  3. Mindfulness and self-reflection: Junk journaling can provide a space for individuals to practice mindfulness and to cultivate a sense of self-awareness. The process of creating a journal using found materials can be a meditative and reflective activity.

  4. Sustainability: Some people may choose to junk journal as a way to repurpose materials that might otherwise be discarded, which can be a sustainable and environmentally friendly activity.

Overall, junk journaling can be a fun and creative hobby that provides a wide range of benefits to those who engage in it. It allows individuals to express themselves artistically, to try new things, and to practice mindfulness and self-reflection.

How do you start junk journaling?

To start junk journaling, you will need to gather some materials and tools.

Here are a few steps you can follow to get started junk journaling:

  1. Gather materials: Collect a variety of found and recycled materials that you can use to create your junk journal. This might include old books, magazines, catalogs, newspapers, envelopes, greeting cards, tickets (from movies, shows, trains, flights, etc.), menus, packaging materials, and other ephemera. You will also need some basic art supplies, such as scissors, glue, pens, and pencils.

  2. Choose a theme or focus: Consider what you would like to explore or express through your junk journal. This could be a specific theme, such as nature, emotions, or personal growth, or it could be more open-ended. (I personally love the freedom of an open-ended junk journal with the possibility of themed pages or spreads.) 

  3. Begin creating: Start experimenting with the materials you have gathered to create your junk journal. This might involve cutting and collaging, drawing, painting, or using other art techniques to create pages in your journal. You can also include written elements, such as journal entries, poetry, song lyrics, or quotes, to add depth and personal meaning to your junk journal.

  4. Experiment and have fun: Remember that there is no right or wrong way to junk journal. The most important thing is to have fun and to allow yourself to be creative. Don’t worry about making your junk journal perfect, just enjoy the process of creating and exploring your thoughts and feelings through art.

Remember, junk journaling is a personal and individual activity, so there is no one “right” way to do it. The key is to find what works best for you and to have fun with it.

You can also explore different techniques and materials, and see what works best for you and what you enjoy the most. As you create your junk journal, you can also consider adding personal touches and details, such as photos, ticket stubs, or other small items that have special meaning to you.

The goal is to create a junk journal that is unique and meaningful to you, that ends up being anything but junk! 

Want to See Junk Journaling in Action?

For me, one of the best ways to learn anything is by watching other people do the thing I want to learn. That said, I’ve collected a sampling of junk journalers on TikTok. Stay with me, especially if you’re thinking:

But Jules, I’m not on TikTok! 

That’s okay! Even if you don’t have an account, you can watch TikTok videos right in your browser. (And if you do have a TikTok account, I highly recommend giving the accounts below a follow and some hearts!)

There are probably hundreds more! Maybe thousands? But I think this is a really good sampling for you to check out. 

Before you go, I’d love it if you got on my email list so I can stay in touch!