An Art Journal Q&A by Dawn DeVries Sokol
This month, Dawn chats with Michelle Geller of Beaverton, Oregon.
I met our featured artist a few years ago online, and then briefly at Artfest a couple years after that. It wasn’t until this year at the Play retreat that I got to spend time with her. We even shared a room at Artfest this year, and I’m so glad we did. She’s not only a great artist, but also a great friend. Her art journal pages exemplify her style and sensibility with their whimsical lettering and vintage bits and pieces. Here’s Michelle Geller…
Why art journaling?
My art journaling is an evolution of my scrapbooking. My scrapbooking used to just be cropped pictures, stickers, colored triangles in the corners and letter stickers spelling out names. However, over the years my scrapbooks became less about preserving memories and more about capturing emotions and using different mediums that I’ve discovered and come to love along the way from college courses and classes I’ve taken at art events.
What inspired you to start art journaling?
I love writing. I love bookmaking. I love holding books. I love office supplies. I love vintage office supplies. I love old, stinky ephemera. I love creating mementos and souvenirs. For me, art journaling is the perfect happily-ever-after marriage of all of these things.
What art journalers are your faves? Other artists you look to for inspiration?
Journalers that inspire me are Mary Ann Moss because she has an awesome aesthetic to her work. Pam Garrison is ridiculously inspiring mainly because of the color palette she uses. I also love Sabrina Ward Harrison. Her work is raw, colorful and I love her use of white space.
Other artists I go to for inspiration are:
Explosions in the Sky (music)
What important bit of advice can you give to those wanting to start art journaling?
There are no rules. Play. Have fun. Ask yourself what you love (paper? paint? crayons?) and bring that into your art journaling. Make stuff up. Experiment. Art journaling is a process, so don’t be afraid to practice and make mistakes. And most important, embrace your writing! I realized several years ago how precious personal handwriting is. My father passed away in 1995 and as I went through his things, I discovered notes, cards and recipes he had written in his horrible chicken scratch. And it made me smile and became completely beautiful to me. So love your writing and share it. It’s one of the most personal forms of expression you have.
Tell us a little about your process. What mediums do you like to use?
Even before I start using a journal, I want it to have that look of the pages all mismatched, colorful and chunky with things sticking out. If I have that even before I start my journal, I feel inspired and want to work in it. Since I love that look, regardless if I’ve made a journal from scratch or am altering an existing book, I first collage every page. I use a combination of glue stick and double-sided adhesive tape. Once the pages are collaged, I will begin writing on them. Did I mention that I love lettering? I have found that I have a ridiculous amount of patience when it comes to lettering. Writing out a word and then going back and thickening up the downstrokes or loops is very soul-soothing and satisfying to me.
Do you also have other ways you like to create, and if so, what are they?
I often say that I major in books arts and minor in jewelry-making. I love beading, soldering and taking remnants of broken (either intentionally or unintentionally) necklaces and making new and unique pieces. I also love bookbinding, pastel painting and gardening.
You can learn more about Michelle at her blog.
Dawn DeVries Sokol is the author of 1,000 Artist Journal Pages, Doodle Diary and Doodle Sketchbook. Click here for Dawn’s blog—an endless source of inspiration.