The 17 Best Art Journal Supplies | Exciting Essentials for Creative Art Journaling

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Last Updated on February 23, 2023 by Dee

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

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Are you looking for a way to unleash your creativity? If so, art journaling may be the perfect solution for you! In this blog post, we will share with you a list of the 17 best art journal supplies. With the right tools, you can create beautiful works of art that represent your unique personality. Let’s get started!

Art journaling is a fabulously creative activity to start! It is a wonderfully therapeutic activity that stimulates new ideas and helps you process situations, feelings, and thoughts that come up in your daily life.

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

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

I recommend spending 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 of creating art in your art journal. Everything goes from wax to sewing to shoe polish, 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 snowball 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 want to make your own, you need a stack of heavy paper [this can be drawing paper, watercolor paper, cardstock], some scissors, and a glue stick.

If you prefer the convenience of a store-bought journal, there are many beautiful options.

If you want to use store-bought art journals, 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

The next item on our list of art journal supplies is gesso, primer, or white acrylic paint.

Gesso is a type of paint that is used as a primer for painting. It helps to create a smooth surface and provides a good foundation for your painting. If you have worked on thin paper with mixed media then you know it can be difficult to keep the pages from tearing!

Primer is similar to gesso but it is usually clear.

White acrylic paint can also be used as a primer.

I like to use gesso because it is white and it helps me to create a bright background for my journal pages.

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 a pencil.

I use this Gesso:

Pencils & Pens

You will need a set of pencils [I like to use mechanical pencils because they are easy to sharpen and have a lead that doesn’t break easily] and a black pen [I like Sharpie Pens because they don’t bleed through the paper].

You will also need a white gel pen [I like Pentel Arts Sign Pen because it is easy to find and doesn’t bleed through the paper] and a black fine-tip marker [I like Copic Multiliner because it doesn’t bleed through the paper and has a nice, fine tip].

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.

A set of colored pencils or watercolor pencils can be used to add color to your art journals. I prefer watercolor pencils because they can be used dry or wet and they produce a beautiful, soft effect when used with water.


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 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.

These are perfect for adding color to your journal pages without the mess of traditional paintbrushes and watercolors.

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

I love these art supplies. 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 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 it 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 paint objects or scenery on top of a range of surfaces.

Gouache Paint

One of my favorite art journaling supplies is 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.

[Related Article: Himi Gouache Paint Set Review 2022. What is so great about Jelly Paint?]

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

laying out himi gouache paint jelly cups

Stencils & Stamps

Stencils and stamps are a great way to add pattern and texture to your journal pages. You can use them with paint, ink, pencil, or even crayon!

There are all sorts of different stencils and stamps available – from simple shapes to complex patterns. You can even make your own…

Check out these free printable stencil templates I made for art journaling…

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.


Elmer’s 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 it into your art journal! It’s good to easily use a thick needle to penetrate paper or cardboard.

Fabric scraps

Pick up some fabric scraps from the craft store if you don’t have any lying around. Stick or sew them onto the pages of your art journal or use them to cover it.
I love using fabric in my art journal – it can add so much texture and color. You can glue it down or even sew it into your pages.

Ephemera and old or interesting materials for Art Journaling

What is ephemera in art journaling?

Ephemera refers to items that are created or collected for a specific purpose but which have only a temporary value.

This can include things like ticket stubs, receipts, postcards, and labels.

For many people, the idea of ephemera is closely linked to the concept of nostalgia, as these items often hold personal meaning and evoke memories of past experiences.

In recent years, however, ephemera has also become popular among artists and crafters as a way to add visual interest and texture to their work.

For example, ephemeral objects can be used to create unique embellishments for scrapbook layouts or mixed media projects.

They can also be incorporated into art journals to add both visual and emotional depth.

Whether you’re using ephemera to document your life story or to add an artistic touch to your latest creation, there’s no doubt that this humble material can have a big impact.

When you start art journaling, looking around the house (or office) for interesting old materials and paper that you can use in your art journal pages is good.

This can be anything from old postcards and stamps to leaves and feathers. You can use these to create interesting backgrounds or embellishments in your art journal.

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Where else do you find ephemera?

Visit your local library, craft stores, or book stores 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!

Embellishments for Art Journaling

When it comes to art journaling, the sky is the limit in terms of what you can use to embellish your pages.

One popular option is washi tape, which comes in a variety of colors and patterns. You can use it to create borders, frame photos, or add interest to any other element on your page.

Another option is stickers. Like washi tape, they come in a wide range of designs and can be used to add pops of color or to make a bold statement.

If you want something with a bit more dimension, you can try using die-cuts or embossing powders.

And of course, don’t forget about good old-fashioned stamps and ink! Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, there are endless possibilities when it comes to embellishing your art journal pages. Just let your imagination run wild.

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 are using charcoal, pencil, or pastel, it’s good to get a sealant to stop your art from smudging and prevent your art journal pages from sticking together.

Clear White Candle

Art journaling is a fun and creative way to express yourself, but it can be frustrating when your pages start to stick together.

There are a few different ways to prevent this from happening, and one of them is to rub a white clear candle all over the surface of the artwork.

This will create a barrier between the pages that will help to keep them from sticking together. Another way to stop your art journal pages from sticking together is to use a spray-like workable fixative.

This will help to hold the medium in place and allow you to flip through your journal without worry.

Whatever method you choose, make sure to test it out on a few pages before using it on your entire journal.

Pick up my Gratitude Art Journal Workbook to Kickstart your Art Journalling Journey 🙂

Art Journal Starter Kit

Art journaling is a therapeutic and fun way to express your creativity. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, and there are no rules when it comes to what you put in your art journal.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, an art journal starter kit is a great way to get all the supplies you need in one go.

Plus, it’s usually cheaper than buying each item separately. Most art journal starter kits will include papers, pens, markers, and other embellishments like stickers and washi tape.

Some also come with art journals, but not all do, so make sure to check before you buy!

With everything you need in one handy pack, an art journal starter kit is the perfect way to start your journey into the world of art journaling.

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 journaling supplies:

1) Art Journal

Lightweight 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.

Also check out these new art journaling supplies: Faber Castell Journalling pens!

[Related article: 27 Awesome Gifts for Artists Who Draw]

6) Caran D’Ache Neocolor 2

No prep is needed. Draw and go! You can similarly use these with 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 peepholes 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
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With the right art journal supplies, you can create beautiful works of art that represent your unique personality. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, we hope that this blog post has provided you with some helpful tips and ideas for your next art journaling session. Be sure to experiment with different materials and techniques to find what works best for you. And most importantly, have fun!

Other articles you may enjoy…

Looking For a Mixed Media Sketchbook? 16 Best Mixed Media Sketchbooks for Wet & Dry Media

[Gouache vs Acrylic Paint | What’s the best paint for you? (2023)]

[15 Best Pencil Cases for Artists & How you Should Choose One]

How to Get Your Creativity Flowing in 2023: 101 Inspiring Art Journal Prompts for Artists Block

How to Create a Vision Board Art Journal – For a Fulfilling 2023

How to Start an Art Journal for Beginners

Make a Junk Journal & Create Art

The 22 Best Beginners Art Supplies | Everything You’ll Need To Get Started Making Art

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