24 comments on “Art Journal vs. Smash Book

  1. Hadn’t heard the term ‘smash book’ before … interesting concept. I can see that art journalling could also include everyday ephemera and be part art/part smash; come to think about it, some of my art journalling already does that!

    • I, too, use some ephemera in my journal, but Smash Books are truly really only about ephemera. There’s no real artistic ability needed. That being said, I think it’s an interesting way to store stuff that would normally get tossed. I guess I’m torn on the issue!

      • “no real artistic ability needed”…
        No “real artistic ability” is needed doing “art journals” either. Just because it’s called “art” doesn’t make it more art than a smash book. And there are kits and ready-made and half-fabricated and step by step tutorials online about art journals as well. They are even selling courses in “how to make an art journal”.
        How much “artistic ability” is needed when you put a face on the paper by cutting it from a magazine, using stamps or transfers and then coloring it?
        How much “artistic ability” is needed to color a coloring book?

        How much an “artist” do you think you are, and do you think some “artists” are better artists or “more” artists than others?
        What price creativity?

    • Yes, you can have a bit of both in one journal. I like both. I began a smash book, but thanks to you, Aaron, I am hooked on my Art Journal!

      • P.S. When I first stumbled on smash books and art journals I thought – what a mess! Then I watched more and more videos and began to understand! I love both! I never got into scrapbooking because I KNOW it would take me hours…days to finish one page! Each page would have to be perfect and take too much planning for me. I do love them though – I just don’t have the time right now. Smash books and art journals are great for me – nothing has to be perfect! I feel so free!

      • I felt the same way about some art journals! Some felt sloppy and uninspired to me but some were magical! It does take me hours to finish scrapbook pages sometimes. I hate that! I have been forcing myself to take less time on them lately and have been using more mixed media techniques on them and I have created some of my favorite pages yet this way!

  2. Smash books leave me rather confused. I put stuff like movie-tickets and such in my normal journal (also called a diary) to keep track of things I did and saw. I have journals going back over twenty years and sometimes page through the old ones to reconnect with my younger self or see what was going through my head during a specific time.

    I’m only starting with art journaling. So far I see it a bit like taking the doodles and scribbles I did in my normal journal and move them in another journal and add to that. Play around with colour and paint and just test things out. Maybe in a while I’ll even try myslef at a canvas or something. But art journaling is more like a visual expression as opposed to my written notes. Or in addition to my written entries.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. Art journaling truly is more visual. Smash Books cater to people who don’t keep journals (diaries) but want to track all of their junk. My wife will start keeping one because it’s an easy way to get something started that doesn’t look bland. I’m not a fan, as I’ve mentioned, but I see their purpose. I use my art journal a bit as someone might use their Smash Book like when I made a spread using my wife’s winning bingo card. I would not want to do that for every single time I see a movie, but it’s good enough for my purposes. Still torn, I guess. 🙂

  3. Hi, I am new to this site but have admired your art journalling via your videos for a while. I have seen smash books but they are not for me. I art journal and cannot see how I could fit that into a smash book, It would be too restrictive. I can understand people using them though and I think whatever we do is ok as long as we are doing something for our creative souls. Thank you for your great videos and your lovely casual style.

    • I couldn’t agree more! While Smash Books are not for me, my wife loves hers and has a lot of fun playing in hers. Have you ever thought of sharing your art journal? It’s terrifying at first and then extremely liberating. If you can share your art with the world, you can do anything! HUGS, Aaron

  4. I really like your comparrison. A crafty friend told me about smash journals today. I had not heard of them, so I have spent a couple of hrs looking at the web, prices, videos etc. I agree that Smash being the operative word, and pre-designed being the attraction they may seem ‘fun & easy’, but how much is decipherable to the stranger? As a historian and librarian I know the importance of keeping ephemera, and documenting why it is kept, and smash books look a little ad hoc to me. I love the idea of art journals, I have bought them for my kids to keep records of their drawing and writing ideas, I use traditional scrapbooking at the moment for more than photos to include ephemera and journalling, but they are clunky and not portable at all, so an A5 or A4 art journal may be the way to go, and that way I can make it legible for future readers. How sad it would be if all the work that people like my friend have done in their books, simply gets tossed by cleaners and family who don’t know what they mean in the context of the maker’s life. At no time will I be a van Gogh or da Vinci, but their art journals show the development of their style and thoughts, so after some 3 hours, I vote heartily for ART JOURNALS.

  5. I think you can have both. It is also a form of creativity either way so I don’t think one is better than the other. One will just have more mementos in it.

    • I get the best of both worlds! My wife keeps her Smash book and I keep my art journal! Teamwork for the win! After seeing what my wife has done, I really appreciate Smash books more now than I did at the time of this article. It’s nice to be able to tape some ephemera and stickers into a book and flip through it.

  6. I love art journals, but really, I am not an artist and won’t be keeping an art journal. I have done scrap booking (12×12 pages, stickers, stamps, matting, etc) for nearly 20 years. The process is nearly crippling to me – i can never be current, caught up, etc. Smash journals are fast, easy to keep current. And I write a LOT more than I do in my scrapbooks.

    • Wow…your comment about scrapbooking being crippling really hit me. Scrapbooking became such a chore (much as I imagine Project Life would be) for me that I stopped doing it for a while. Now I scrap when I’m in the mood. I say Smash, Scrap, Journal, Stamp, Stick, Create…do what makes you happy! -Aaron

  7. I too tried Scrapbooking and soon found it a chore to keep up. Like I was a job instead of fun. I know Smashbook is a copywrited title for something I did in my teens and I wish I had those pages today with all the cutout music/movie pics and such from all the teen magazines I slaughtered. Much to my surprise I keep a smashbook of sorts today, one of those blank journals people are always giving me. It’s full of quotes, odds and sods, titles of books, dates to remember, business cards, even a couple tea and cheese labels. I’m old, I need to remember things. Fun stuff goes in like cute stickers from envelopes and tags from gifties.
    I consider myself a mixed media art journalista. A little of this and that. I love colour and use composition books to slap bits and pieces of paper in. I junk journal, I quote journal, I zen doodle. I use cheap, use what I have and go from there in my art journals. Have more than one in different sizes and pick which ever one I feel like exploring with. Am I an artist? Heck yah, I may not be as good as Pablo P, but I have fun. Am I as good at art as some of the artists you mentioned? Nope, but then, I’m not them. Everyone should go with their flow, do what makes them feel good, what pleases them. All art is art.
    If anyone wants to see examples of the artist me? https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcsgreymowser/

  8. Smash just seem like another entry point to your wallet. Art journals are intrinsically creative and don’t require purchasing stuff

  9. I disagree with you.
    A “smash book” was “invented” by art journalists, not any company. The companies have taken that concept, too, and are running with it, because there will always be people who want to get something “creative” quickly but keep it looking “tidy” and “pretty”.

    I have seen smash books, junk journals, glue books, or what ever they are called, made from scratch – and junk – that are amazing and way beyond anything normal kids do. Some are made by teenaged girls. They are every bit as artistic and creative as any art journal…
    Also, there are the “dozen doers” in art journalism as well, who buy this designer’s journal and that designer’s stamps and inks and doodaas and whatchamacallits and whatnots and follow YouTube tutorials step by step to “create” “beautiful” “art”…

    Just as you shouldn’t say “all this genre music is crap” or “all this genre literature is crap”, you can’t call smash books crap either, just because there are people who have taken the name and use it to mean something it originally wasn’t meant to be used.

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