I'm a folk art creator who has been bullet journaling for a lot of years already. I like keeping track of my time and activities.
The Freedom of Bullet Journaling
Your bullet journal reflects your personality, your interests and activities. It shouldn't be just like anyone else's. Don't despair if you can't replicate some of the beautiful calligraphic pages others post to Instagram without using a stencil as a guide. Instead you can get wild with it and make your bullet journal creation uniquely just like you.
I don’t know anyone else who creates bullet journal border art the same way I do so I’ll explain my method and show a bit of what other people are doing with bullet journaling these days. With bullet journals, the possibilities are endless. For me at least, the goal was to find a way to use mine in a sustainable, habitual way. I needed something that works for me.
A Brief History of the Bullet Journal
Before I get started with art-talk, let's remember the origin of bullet journaling. What is it? Why has bullet journal art become such a wide spread phenomena?
Bullet journaling became popular—especially online—because of the original bullet journaling site based on the work of Ryder Carroll, who created this method to be more productive despite learning disabilities. Since then many creative people have come up with variations on his work including weight trackers, habit trackers, reading trackers and so much more.
Ryder Carroll's groundbreaking website about bullet journaling is still online as of 2022 at BulletJournal.com.
My Bullet Journal History
I learned about bullet journaling from Ryder Carroll's site at least ten years ago and started my first bullet journal in a Moleskine journal. I decorated the pages with washi tape and used the traditional, prescribed basic bullet journaling format and marks.
In subsequent years, I used a variety of journals and started creating my own bullet journal borders. Each year, I'd get a fresh new journal. As my understanding and appreciation of a variety of art supplies increased, my techniques for creating these borders changed accordingly.
I don't have great calligraphic skills (I've tried). However, I've been able to make borders that thrill me with colors and creative abandon. Some of my techniques were learned by taking classes from Joanne Sharpe, an online whimsical mixed media art instructor and author of several whimsical art books (I love art books and that's how I first became aware of this artist). She cannot be blamed, however, for all the art mistakes I've made over the years. I got ideas from other places as well.
My Bullet Journal Border Art Videos
Back in 2018, I started an online art creation archive of videos on YouTube. I call it "Adventures in Creativity." I loved making and sharing my art-adventure videos but quit when I left Idaho. My life has been too chaotic since then to sustain that level of video-making activity.
I moved back to Northern California from Idaho, bought a property with a mobile home in the Klamath Forest, and then lost my mobile home and everything in it during a huge forest fire in 2020 that destroyed over 200 homes. I saved most of my art books and art supplies as I was running around like crazy before evacuating the area!
It has been kind of difficult since then and I still don't have an art studio, so the YouTube art adventure is on hold right now. It isn't that I'm not thinking about art, but just that my art space isn't right for making videos. When I can, I'll get back to my fun activity of filming myself making bullet journal border art or whatever other types of art appeal to me.
Art Supplies List
I'm giving you a list of some art supplies I've used in my bullet journal for making page borders but expect to use what you have on hand, or buy sparingly, one new item at a time perhaps, and you'll find that some things work better for you than others. These are just suggestions.
Tombow Dual Brush Pens—These are high-quality nylon fiber brush tip pens that help with illustrations, calligraphy, journaling, and any type of fine art.
Water brushes and regular paint brushes, both flat and round
A Platinum carbon pen (buy the refills when you buy this)
Gelly Roll pens—Try their many varieties like Moonlight, Souffle, Stardust Galaxy and Metallic.
Noodlers Ink either painted on or use in a Twsbi Eco fountain pen
Uniball Pens—black, white, gold and silver
Mildliner Pens by Zebra
Zebrite Bible Highlighters by Zebra
Sakura Micron Pens (black and many colors)
Acrylic paint (The inexpensive liquid paints found at Walmart will do for this project)
Kuretake Watercolors (professional grade)
Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolors (travel set)
Painting With Ink in Your Bullet Journal
Here's a bullet journal page created with two shades of Noodler's ink: Apache Gold and Shah's Rose. This is regular fountain pen ink, but sometimes I use it to paint.
It was an easy page to create with a flat brush creating the basic border background and then a #8 round watercolor brush to make swirls and scrolls on top. This is so easy to do. If you're not used to the movements, try it with pencil and paper first.
If you decide to use ink, be careful not to spill any as it will be hard to remove from clothing or rugs. I used an eye dropper to remove ink from the bottles, then put that into jar lids.
What's Inside My Bullet Journal?
I have a book list and goals for the year at the front of my journal, then start my decorated pages, which normally contain a few to-dos and a lot of ta-das as I like to keep a list of things I've done each day. I do that because I don't like to get to the end of the day and wonder, "Where did that day go? What did I do? Did I get anything worthwhile accomplished?" Now I can look back and see what I've done every day of the year.
Sometimes I break away from the pattern and dedicate a page to books I want to read (a TBR list) or things I wish I had, or a floor plan for my maybe someday home, or whatever comes to mind. A bullet journal is a great place to keep track of daydreams and plans for the future.
Get Started With a Bullet Journal
If any of this appeals to you, don't hesitate to get started. Try it out and find out what works for you and what doesn't.
You don't have to be just like everyone else. Do it your way. Do what works for you and what makes you happy.
Your imagination will take you there.
Whatever you want to do with your bullet journal, go there. Do your own thing. Make your bullet journal your happy place, like I do with my whimsical and artistic bullet journal borders (not all of them are on video). Make room in it to record the things that are important to you. We're all different.
Be inspired by others but remember, there's only one you. You're unique so your bullet journal will be, too.
Where to Learn More
There are many online resources for learning new bullet journal ideas. You can find groups on Facebook sharing page layouts and tips with each other. You can look at some beautiful pages from bullet journals at Pinterest or on Instagram. Just use their search engines to find what you're looking for. There are also other bullet journaling articles here on this website.
You can watch all my YouTube videos about bullet journal borders. There are a lot of other videos there about bullet journals too. Just use the YouTube search engine to find them. You can read the original bullet journal site and download their app for your phone. Most important, you can start now and teach yourself as you go along. There's nothing more educational than trying things out for yourself. You may find the bullet journal life works perfectly for you.