The Art of Memory Keeping {Art Journal Inspiration}

Hello, my friends!

Do you ever collect random bits like brochures from trips, pressed flowers from your garden, and stickers you got in a letter, and then not know what to do with them? There’s a word for that stuff: ephemera. And there’s a place to put it: in a journal!

Instead of throwing it away or keeping it in a messy heap in a closet, I love preserving those memories in one book. I’ve been art journaling (or junk journaling or scrapbooking, depending on who you ask) for a couple years now and I absolutely love going back and looking through old entries.

If that sounds fun but you don’t know where to start, keep reading! Today I’m going to give you guys a peek into my own art journal to give you inspiration for creating your own. If you enjoy artsy stuff, you can make your journal a lot fancier and prettier than mine. If you don’t, you can simply stick in ephemera and photos and write a bit about them. It’s totally up to you.

Okay, enjoy this little dose of journaling inspiration!

Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, the price won’t change for you, but I’ll get a small commission for advertising and you get to support this blog for free! πŸ™‚

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Before we get started, I wanted to show you the journal I use. I received this one as a gift so I don’t have the exact link, but click the button below to find a very similar option on Amazon.

Okay, let’s get started with some journaling ideas! Do you guys ever make a packing list when you go on trips? I folded up my list from a Thanksgiving visit last year and put it in here as a piece of ephemera that reminds me of the weekend. I taped it in so it made a flap where I could write underneath. On the right, I added a list of some of the things I was grateful for in the past year. Gratitude lists are a great way to fill your journal or notebook.

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Here’s a New Year’s page, which I like because of how well the colors go together. πŸ™‚ I saved that little paint test at the bottom for a pretty decoration instead of throwing it out.

This spread was FUN. I took a whole bunch of random bits and pieces I didn’t know what else to do with and stuck them all in one place. Then I numbered everything and added a little “key” describing each item so I would know where it came from. I should do these more often…

I completed one of those “Read the Bible in a Year” plans in 2020, so I stuck some of the filled-in pages here as a background to the journaling I did about the experience. Ephemera like this makes great background paper.

Ooh, I love this! Using a limited color scheme and the same materials throughout a spread always helps the cohesiveness. The right page is leftover sticker-packaging turned into pockets for quotes. I attached some notes from books I was reading to the left page by punching two holes through both the notebook paper and the art journal page. Then I tied the notes in with a bow so they can be completely taken out of the journal. It also, again, makes a flap so I could write on the kraft paper behind it.

collage 1

I love taping dried flowers or herbs into my journal! I left the lavender blooms exposed so I can still smell them as I’m flipping through the pages. I just really love the way this spread turned out with the sticker-paper quotes, pretty collages, and tiny pearls.

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To make this collage more interactive, I added a pocket filled with some of my favorite words. And yes, I know I spelled “rhapsody” wrong. Oops.

An art journal is also a great place to put… well, art! I like adding in miscellaneous sketches or art other people have given me. Paint chips are another fun thing to include as part of a collage or as a canvas for sketches.

For this spread I wrote a bunch of verses on some stickers I made with paint + sticker paper, then stuck them on photos cut out of an old National Geographic book.

Sometimes I put straight-up trash in my journal, haha! The licorice labels were actually packaging from a gift box my friend sent me. Instead of throwing it all away, I recycled some to remember my favorite kinds of candies. I’ll also sometimes include cards I receive. I cut the front off this cute card one of my students gave me and then journaled on the opposite side.

collage 5

This page is rather random, but I thought it would be fun to keep a collection of the different ways people write my name. πŸ˜› I wrote each contributor’s name underneath. A handwriting collection!

Some more junk in this spread – a piece of a paper napkin and a caramel candy wrapper from going out to eat on vacation. I just love recycling random ephemera like this. πŸ™‚ I also stapled a little quote thingy on top to make the junk into a pretty collage. Voila!

That CafΓ© Du Monde paper on the left is ripped off of a paper bag from getting beignets on our trip. Yum. Now I’m hungry… I decorated the background with New Orleans colors to give the page more pizzaz.

Oh yeah, I like this trick! I opened to the next blank spread in my journal and folded the right page in half. Then I stapled the bottom sides of that folded page to the left page, making a pocket as well as a flap to lift where I could write even more. That was… a confusing explanation. Sometime I’ll just need to make a video flip-through I guess.

collage 4

I love making ephemera into pockets to hold journaling about the ephemera. πŸ™‚ Seed packets work especially well for this.

As do small bags! I just cut this one in half and glued the back to the journal page so I had room to fit a bit of writing inside.

This page includes a flap-booklet with journaling inside, a feather given to me by a little boy when we were helping set up for the event, and a 3rd place ribbon which of my friends won and then gave to me. πŸ˜› I recommend putting clear packing tape over something easily mussed up, like the feather. And I recommend using a stapler instead of glue for something thick or bumpy, like the ribbon.

Random layered scraps of pretty paper along with a happy list. I love making lists like these!

I cut out these pretty flowers from a birthday card and stapled them to the corners to act as pockets for journaling about my birthday. I also put some wrapping paper from a gift in the background and used a tag from another gift to write on.

My sweet art students gave me lots of cards and gifts at the end of the school year. Instead of saving the whole card, I just saved the messages inside and put them all on one page. It makes me happy. ❀

Flyers are easy ways to fill up a page. I stapled in the top of the flyers so I could still open them up – and again, write underneath the flap they created.

I found these two four-leaf clovers after church one day, then pressed them and preserved them between two pieces of packing tape.Β 

Well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten in this journal so far! It’s already WAY too thick, yikes. I may need to cut out some of the blank pages if I want it to close at all… Anyway, this guy will definitely feature in more art journal posts.

There you have it! That was a fun post to put together. I hope you guys enjoyed that memory-keeping inspiration… and maybe zooming in to read my handwriting, haha! Does anyone else do that or just me? πŸ˜›

Do you scrapbook/journal/preserve memories? What page or spread did you like best?

Thanks so much for reading, my friends, and have a lovely day!


P. S. Photos taken with my Nikon D3400 and a 35mm lens. Edited with Lightroom.


62 thoughts on “The Art of Memory Keeping {Art Journal Inspiration}

  1. I enjoyed seeing these. I’m sentimental and do tend to collect little things, but so far haven’t really done a junk journal/scrapbook. We’ll see. This post was full of fun ideas.


    1. Yes, I know the feeling! I don’t like keeping a lot of junk because I prefer to be organized, but I also love looking back on old memories, so the journal works out well. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!


  2. Ah, this is such a fun idea!! Now it’s a matter of finding all my random ephemera and choosing a notebook from my….admittedly, WAY-too-big notebook collection.


  3. I never really thought of Memory Keeping before, but your journal looks beautiful! I’ll have to try that when I do something again. Great post!


  4. Oh my goodness, you are SO talented! For real!! You have such an eye for beauty. I don’t know if I could do this, although you made it look so easy. πŸ™‚ I did SO enjoy looking at the pictures of your journal, so I hope you’ll keep sharing. So beautiful!!


  5. Yes yes yes I do (hopelessly sentimental) and keep them all in a cute box. I’ve been meaning to create a memory journal and now you’ve inspired me. Next holiday project!!!! Thanks for sharing. Dee


  6. I love this! I’m definitely not an artist and I’m pretty sure that it would be a disaster if I tried this, but it looks so pretty that I might just have to try.


    1. Haha, well the good thing is that 1) you don’t have to make it for anyone but yourself so if it’s a disaster it doesn’t matter, and 2) you totally don’t have to be artistic to make one of these! You can make the pages a lot simpler than I did by just pasting in photos, flyers, etc. and then writing a bit about them. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! I love looking at these types of crafts because I can tell that this takes so much effort, this seems so fun. I’m inspired.


  8. Thank you so much for giving a tour of your Memory Journal, Allison! Everything looks lovely. It was really cool to see my sister’s play (the Trial of the big Bad Wolf) in the journal! I enjoyed getting to meet you guys there (again!)



    1. Well thank you for reading, Emily! Ah yes, it was so fun to see the play and meet you guys again there! Your sister did a fabulous job. πŸ™‚


    1. YAY! I’m glad you like the idea. And hey, you got it! Yep, I drew Toothless because I was journaling about teaching art class and one of my art students is obsessed with How to Train Your Dragon.


  9. I read your your journal. It is so creative and nice to follow. I have always like to make my own journal since i was in high school and help me to speak my mind and my thoughts. Reading yours giving me so much more ideas. Inspired.


    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed my journal, Tanie! You’ve been journaling since high school? That’s wonderful. ❀ I'm happy my post could inspire you!


  10. This is what I *need* to do but I never get around to it! I journal a little but don’t keep scrapbooks which is silly as I’m a sentimental gal and hoard loads of bits and bobs from places I go to.


    1. Haha I feel you! Yeah, it’s hard for me to “get around to it” too, but some days I sit down and catch up with all the ephemera I missed. Hope you get to try this type of journaling!


  11. Your journal looks fab already! I also keep a journal where I doodle random stuff with sketch pens, pencil colors, pens etc, and keep it as unedited as possible. It’s nice to see how others are keeping up with their journals… πŸ™‚


  12. Was Feeling Distracted Before Coming Here ! Just Gone Thru your Journal: It Made my Mind Fresh and Calm. I Can Say that your Blog is a way of nourishing one’s mind when needed. In this Social Media (Full of Negativity) I just got a peace to see as your excellent journal article is concerned. Thank You πŸ™‚


  13. I absolutely love art journaling/junk journaling! Memory keeping is important especially for future generations. Your spreads are amazing! I will have to include some of mine on our travel blog with the ephemera that I’ve been collecting from our adventures. Love your blog!


    1. I’m happy to find a fellow journaler! πŸ˜€ Yes, I totally agree! Aw, thank you. Ooh yes, if you make a post about that please leave a link here and I’ll be sure to check it out! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I loved this post. It brought back memories of my first few journals. Oh the days when I had time to journal like that! I hope to return to that style (wow I didn’t even know it had a name!) and when I was in PEI in 2009 I was inspired to see L.M.Montgomery’s scrapbooks were full of memorabilia and used as ideas in her writing.


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