Creativity, Photos

Art Journaling, scrapbooking or smash books?

I would like to try my hand at some art journaling/scrapbooking/smashbooking this year, each of these terms I have come across on pinterest and the internet and have got me very intrigued but also a little confused. I have been wanting to start an art journal for a while now but never really knew where to get started and I think the pressure of all those blank pages got to me a little! So in this post I am going to attempt to sort out the difference between each form hopefully to clear up any confusion, and this may help me to decide which route I’d like to go down.

Smashbooking-  Smash books are actually a brand of books/journals/ folders you can buy for the purpose of smashbooking from this website



The term has now been coined by crafters as a form of scrapbooking and of recording of memories, mementoes etc in one book, but unlike scrapbooking it doesn’t require specific layouts and planning. It basically consists of “smashing” all of your ideas, bits and bobs, scraps of paper, doodles etc all into one book as you go along, so for example if you were to take a “smash book” on holiday with you, you would fill it up day by day with all your ticket stubs, maps, beer mats- whatever mementoes you decide on keeping with no formal planning or process.

example of a holiday smashbook from


Some crafty folks also make their own “smash books” by repurposing other books or by making them out of random pages sewed together to make their very own book in which to smash stuff in.

handmade smash book

To create a “smash book” you do not need to be particularly crafty- its not about a stylised finished product but more about creativity on the move- it embraces mess, new ideas and spontaneity. This type of journal is also referred to as junk journal or junque journal- which means that it is filled up with the “junk” from your everyday life- usually recycled or repurposed papers, mementoes and bits and bobs.

junk journal

Art Journaling- Art journaling is a way or recording emotions and thoughts using art combined with words.

Art journal made by Alisa Burke at


It is often therapeutic or cathartic in nature and is not necessarily made to be seen by others- the process of making the art journal is more important than the finished product. You can put anything you like in an art journal and you don’t have to stick to any specific techniques or lay outs- it can be mixed media, collage, painting, drawing, doodles, what ever medium helps you to express yourself in that given moment.

art journal from

These books are not necessarily used for storing mementoes but for expressing yourself through words and art. They are often used by artists as an extension of sketchbooks but can be used by anyone who feels compelled to create and express themselves through art.

Scrapbooking-  Scrapbooking is essentially a way of storing and presenting mementoes and photographs in an ordered and beautiful way, giving you a book which you can keep to look back on specific memories, or give as gifts.

scrap booking- baby’s first year by Susan Weinroth

Scrapbooking requires some skill which is developed over time and generally needs craft supplies such as fancy papers, embellishments, ribbon etc in order to make a beautifully presented finished product. The pages are usually planned out in advance, and the book as a whole is typically linear in telling a story or recording a specific time in history.

Christmas scrapbook page from

Each memento has its place and purpose and it is definitely made to be viewed- it is more about a finished product than experimenting with artistic process.

I hope that clears up any confusion around the terminology for you! It has certainly helped me to understand what I want from my Journal. One thing that I have learned is that I do not need to be defined by the terminology- the kind of book I intend to make will probably be a mixture of a smash book/junk journal/art journal/research paper! But I do also really love the structure and skill present in the beautiful scrapbooking designs I have seen- perfect for gifts and for keeping safe precious mementoes.  Keep tuned to see more posts on journaling in the coming months and to see how I get on trying to find my niche!


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