Traveling Journals: Changing the Rules

When I decided to create four traveling journals, I kept the idea pretty close to the 1000 Journals Project because that was a good model. As the journal entries unfolded, several interesting events took place:

Red traveling journals

Red traveling journals

1. Creative Insecurity. The person who started one of the journals has a great deal of art talent. In a class, one of the participants said, “I’m glad I’m not following her.” I didn’t understand, so she explained, “Well, if I saw this great art, I’d feel bad. What could I do that would be as great?” I had never thought of the journaling experience as being competitive, I had thought of each person contributing something new and different, a new perspective. But I’m sure that competitive perspective is not unique.

2. Not enough journals. With four journals, I can’t have a class work on them. If a class has a dozen people, no one will have enough time, and keeping the ones not working on the journal busy will short-change the one who is working on it.

3. Time constraints. Each person keeps the journal about 10 days. Mailing takes about three days. I have people from Australia, Bosnia, the Phillipeans and other countries signed up. The waiting list for one journal is already four months. A long waiting list was one of the problems that people told me about with the plan.

4. Lack of meaning-making in the concept. Circulating the journals is an administrative task that I don’t find compelling or packed with meaning-making.  I have to ask people not to create pages that are too thick to keep the book from closing comfortably. I hate restricting imagination and creativity.

What to do? I asked participants in the creativity incubator, I thought it over, and came up with some great alternatives. If I circulated loose pages, most of the above problems would be solved. If I circulated loose pages to create on while people were waiting for the books, and encouraged people to do both, the resulting creative rush could be exciting and fulfilling.

If I gathered the loose pages and created inventive ways to bind them, well, then, I could also have a creative experience. This sounded like a workable idea. It also changed the art experience to a completely different journaling experience than the one created by Someguy, the person who ran the 1000 Journal project as an art experiment.

Solution that re-tooled the project:

  • You can still sign up for the red traveling journals. You sign up for them, and I
    Re-purposed book

    Re-purposed book

    manage them, scanning and posting the pages as they come in and sending them out again to the next person on the list. You can see the list of where the books are, and who will have it next here. You can sign up for more than one journal.

  • You can also sign up for loose pages. You won’t have to wait for them, because I have them pre-cut and ready to go. You can create FAT pages (layer papers, add photographs, use multi-media techniques) or FLAT pages (writing, drawing, watercolor, thin collage) depending on your style, art, ideas, and imagination. You can use one of the themes from the red traveling journals (travel, dreams,  or Summer in the Sonoran) or make up your own.
  • There is only one rule: Because I will use different binding methods, some of which I haven’t invented yet, you will need to leave a half-inch margin all around the edge of each page. You can run color or collage up to the edge, just keep words and important image parts one-half inch aways from the edge.
  • The re-purposed book. One idea I have is to re-purpose books. I’ve snagged some books from a future in the landfill. I’ll cut out the pages, leaving a margin. I’ll send you a few pages along with some art paper. You can choose to use some, all, or none of the existing book pages. When you send it back, I’ll re-attach it to the pages I cut out. A re-purposed book!
  • Re-inventing the book. Another idea is that I will choose pages that relate to each other and find inventive ways to bind, stitch, rivet, or otherwise attach them to each other. This gives you the joy of creation and it gives me the chance to explore the meaning of “book” and play with the form. Everyone is happy.

I’m excited and eager to see how this adventure unfolds! I plan to continue this program as my main creative work for the foreseeable future, so if you are reading this and wonder if I’m still running the program, ask.

Sign up. You do not have to be able to draw to participate. The only requirement is a hunger to communicate with people from around the world in a culturally interesting project. You can read more about raw art journaling on my website.

You can sign up for the red journals, fat or flat pages, or both by sending me an email: rawartjournals [at] gmail [dot] com. Or use the link at the bottom of the left column or top of the right column on this page.

—Quinn McDonald is an artist, writer and certified creativity coach. She is managing this project our of her own funds and hopes to take the completed books on tour to museums and libraries. You can contribute to the project by using the button at the bottom of the page, here.