Saving Images for Your Art Journaling and Mixed Media Collages

art journaling collage

Are you art journaling? Do you struggle to collect and organize collage photos, papers and ephemera?

I’ve found a system that works well for me. It might help you, too.

Art journaling – and mixed-media collage – can require lots of images. And, to remain “in flow” as you’re creating a new journal entry (or embellishing an older one), organization can be vital.

Here are some tips.

Step One: Sort collage elements by themes

I save my collage elements – especially magazine photos – by color, in manila folders. I start with the major color groups (red, blue, green, etc.) and then expand (lime green, turquoise, etc.) as my collection of saved images becomes too large for anything simpler.

I include all kinds of papers in my folders. So, when I want something blue, I open my “blue” folder and I’ll see my primarily blue magazine images, but also blue tissue paper, maybe some bits of blue ribbons or fabrics that I intend to use in collage, and so on.

Of course, my art journaling collages are usually more color-driven than image-driven, per se. So, organizing by color makes sense to me.

For someone else, it might make more sense to organize by other themes, instead of (or in addition to) by colors.

And, I’ll admit that – for art journaling – I’ve started folders that say things like “skies” and “green plants.”

Your categories might be “faces” or even more specifically, “women’s smiling faces,” etc. Or, “nature,” “dark-looking castles,” “cute cottages,” “kissing,” “fast cars,” “vintage images,” or whatever.

Step Two: Store the folders in a big portfolio

All of my manila folders are stored in one large, flat old-fashioned artist’s portfolio. You know, those huge black folders. Some are made from heavy cardboard, covered with a black, textured surface. Others are fabric, and sometimes reinforced.

If the portfolio is inexpensive (under US$20) and comes with a handle or shoulder strap, that’s ideal.

(Collaging the outside of your portfolio is optional.)

But, any good, big portfolio will work fine.

In my studio, the collage elements portfolio fits nicely on top of my chest of drawers.

That’s the same one that holds my fabric art and mixed media supplies, like my iron, fusible webbing, and fabrics like muslin, etc.

Of course, you can also hide the portfolio folder under a bed, behind a door, between or in back of bookcases, and so on.

I’ve tried many organizing systems for my stacks of wonderful papers and collage images. This has worked the best for me.

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