How to Find the Best Art Journal Supplies? The Essential List for Creative Art Journaling!

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Starting your own art journal and want to know what art journal supplies you need to get you started?

An art journal is a fabulous creative project to start! It really is a wonderfully therapeutic activity that stimulates new ideas and helps you to process situations, feelings and thoughts that come up in your daily life.

There are just so many benefits to starting an art journal but at the most basic level – it is just incredibly fun! You get to spend time dedicated to play – and as adults we don’t get much opportunity for that in our day to day lives.

I personally find it really exciting to explore new mediums, techniques and ideas in my art journal and, to be honest, it can become really addictive!

I would recommend that you spend some time looking for inspiration on Pinterest or Google to spur on your imagination. You can check out my article How to Start an Art Journal for Beginners for more info and inspiration on the journaling process.

When it comes to art journal supplies – there are no rules! This is the best part of art journaling – you can use anything your mind can conceive to create art in your art journal. From wax, to sewing to shoe polish – anything goes provided it helps you express yourself in your art.

So, for those of us who are ready to start this exciting process I have distilled a list of my recommended art journal supplies as a guide on what you need to begin.

I would just like to mention that once you start building your art journal resources there is a definite snow ball effect – soon you may have a bulging drawer filled with a collection of random stuff!

So, let’s get started with the essential list of art journal supplies:

a hand drawing in a sketchbook

**This page may contain affiliate links to products I have used or recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.**

A Journal

This really goes without saying, but in order to art journal, you need a book to journal in!

Here you have two options: You can make your own art journal from scratch [see my article on Junk Journals 101] or you can buy a readymade journal or standard sketchbook.

If you use a store-bought journal, I recommend choosing one with good quality mixed media paper like the Strathmore 566-5 500 Series Hardbound Mixed Media Art Journal so that you can paint on it without it buckling or tearing and you can also layer mixed media onto it to create interesting images.

Gesso, Primer, or White Acrylic Paint

It’s a good idea to have one of the above mediums as these are used for a multitude of things. You can use them to paint backgrounds, white-out parts of an image, or create a washed-out effect on the photos or magazine pictures you have stuck in your journal.

Gesso is my preference because it dries with a matt finish and is easy to sketch over with pencil and markers. Acrylic paint dries with more of a gloss finish and it is more difficult to draw over it with pencil.

I use this Gesso:

Pencils & Pens:

Both pencils and pens can be used for drawing and writing. Spend time playing with a range of different pens and pencils to figure out which you like best and what effects you are going for in your art journal.

Graphite pencils

A set of lead or graphite pencils to sketch out outlines and add pencil drawings to pages in your art journal. I always recommend working with a 2B or darker so that you can create deep shadow areas in your drawings.

Colored pencils & Watercolor Pencils

Invest in some good quality colored pencils as well as a set of watercolor pencils. These are a lot of fun to use and you can get some wonderful results from the combination.


Sharpie Markers are always great to have around and can be used for a variety of art and craft activities. They come in a range of bright colors, are permanent, and can be used on all surfaces.

Gel Pens

Gel pens come in a range of colors, as well as metallic, pearlescent, and neon colors. These are great to use over watercolor painting and can be used to create striking line drawings.

Brush Pens

Brush pens are another great type of pen to use – they have a brush tip and carry a watercolor-type pigment.

Faber-Castell Pitt Pens

These pens are permanent and waterproof, which means you can paint over them without causing the ink to run.

Sakura Micron Pens

These are excellent quality, permanent, archival pens for long-lasting mark making. That means your art journal pen drawings or writing will last a loooong time.

Caran D’Ache Neocolor 2

These are high-quality, water-soluble crayons that can be used for a huge variety of different effects. This is really an awesome medium to work in and I love using mine over gesso to create watercolor-type drawings.


You can use black India ink with a dip pen to create contour drawings and write words on an art journal spread.

Acrylic and alcohol inks come in a range of bright colors and can be great to work with. They dry quickly and have a watercolor-type finish. These can be used for backgrounds, text and drawing with a fountain pen or dipping pen.

Watercolor pan set

Watercolor paints are really one of my top mediums for working in my art journal. It’s a good idea to get yourself a set of watercolor pans for easy use. This is also a travel-friendly art medium!

Acrylic paint

Acrylic paint is an opaque paint and it dries quite quickly with a glossy finish. Acrylic paint blends beautifully and is similar to oil paint in the way you can create gradations of color. You can also mix is with a drying retarder so that you can slow down the drying time and spend more time blending the paint.

Acrylic paint can be used to build up art journal page backgrounds and painting objects or scenery on top of a range of surfaces.

Gouache Paint

I really enjoy working with my Himi Gouache Jelly Cup paints. I find gouache to be an easy paint to control – you can easily paint over mistakes in your artwork it dries quickly.

Gouache paint has a matt, chalky finish and can be used to create blooms and bleeds – very much like watercolor paint.

Stencils & Stamps

This is a good addition to art journal supplies because you can use it to create background shapes, patterns and layers on your pages.

Stamps can be used to create areas of interest and emphasis on your art journal pages.


Elmers craft glue is great to have on hand. You can also use a glue gun if you want to quickly stick down embellishments or create a textured surface on an art journal spread, or even on the cover of your art journal.

Needles and thread

You can sew into your art journal! It’s a good idea to use a needle that is thick enough to easily penetrate paper or cardboard.

Fabric scraps

Stick or sew fabric scraps onto the pages of your art journal or use them to cover it.

Ephemera and old or interesting materials

When you start an art journal it’s a good idea to look around the house (or office) for interesting old materials and paper which you can use in your art journal pages.

Where else do you find ephemera?

Visit your local library or book store and see if they have any old materials lying around that may be headed for the recycling bin.

You can also visit your nearby charity stores for old books, papers, posters and photographs. Anything from newspaper to cereal boxes, to old till slips will do.

Collect whatever material sparks your imagination!


Buttons, pins, stickers, stones, wire, dried flowers, embroidered badges, broaches and more!

Once again, explore your local charity stores to find small embellishments to place in your art journal.

Americano Sealer

If you have worked on your art journal pages with charcoal, pencil or pastel it’s a good idea to get a sealant to stop your art from smudging and to prevent your art journal pages from sticking together.

Clear White Candle

Another way to stop your art journal pages from sticking together is to rub a white clear candle all over the surface of the art work.

Art Journal Starter Kit

This is a great way to start building up your resources for beginners. You can buy a pack of various materials and tools to start you off.

Packs come with a range of papers and materials for you to add to your art journal. Just remember not all kits will come with the art journal book itself!

Here are some starter packs you can order to kick start your art journal:

9 Essential Travel Art Journal Supplies

A Travel Art Journal on a desktop

If you are going away on holiday or are traveling for another reason, it can be a great opportunity to have some quiet time for yourself and fill your art journal pages!

Here are my recommendations for light-weight, compact and hassle-free, travel art journal supplies:

1) Art Journal

Light weight and compact art journal that you can easily slip in and out of your bag.

2) Graphite Pencils (eraser & sharpener)

Keep your 2B and 6B with you to make sure you have to tools for quick sketching or scenery and objects

3) Watercolor pan set

Easy to take out and paint a watercolor background or a landscape. This set comes with a paintbrush

4) Watercolor pencils

Easy to carry with your graphite pencils and Pitt Pens for quick, controlled color-pencil drawing.

5) Faber Castell Pitt Pens

Great for quick drying, permanent writing, or pen drawing over paint or on a blank page.

6) Caran D’Ache Neocolor 2

No prep needed. Draw and go! You can use these in a similar fashion to watercolor pencils. Great for landscapes and watercolor washes. You can also use these to create fascinating textures on your art journal pages.

7) Scissors

To cut out pages of a magazine or peep holes in your art journal pages.

8) Glue Stick

9) Acid-free masking tape or washi tape

Great for taping down interesting ephemera, embellishments or even leaves or flowers that you find on your travels.

More Art Journaling Supplies
Watercolor half pans and paint brushes


Making an art journal is a wonderfully creative process to be involved in and there are just so many benefits to it! If you are ready to start your art journal journey the list of art journal supplies above should give you a good place to begin. Happy art-journaling!

Art Journal Supplies

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