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Visual journal

Whether or not it is a requirement of your course, keeping a visual journal is good artistic practice. Your journal is a way of documenting your explorations and development as an artist or designer. It will help you gain greater awareness of the things that inspire you or impede your progress.

Try to make journal writing part of your day and don't restrict yourself to your specialist area. Both designers and artists know influences can come from the most surprising sources. Even a trip to a hardware store can cause you to think about objects and materials in unusual and creative ways. Be curious. Look at areas such as:

fashion furniture typography advertising
sculpture public art product design literature
dance video film poetry
music theatre jewellery glass
illustration technology science philosophy
homeware engineering medicine sport

Keep an eye out for things that suggest:

colour pattern proportion paradox
illusion language alphabets words
ideas culture style aesthetics

Your journal should record your work and observations in both visual and written forms. Here are some suggestions from staff at the Gippsland Centre for Art & Design for how to do this:

  • Be constructively critical of your own work.
  • Express your opinion about art and various issues.
  • Describe your approach to your current project and what you are trying to achieve.
  • Describe what you would call your 'personal' expression or what you are trying to communicate through your work.
  • Record any opinions of staff or other students about your work, including your reaction to these criticisms.
  • Describe as precisely as possible your reactions to all exhibitions you see. Try to analyse what makes something good or bad in your view.
  • Offer opinions about artists' talks you attend.
  • Note your positive and negative reactions to art and design, artists and designers, and art and design movements in both historical and contemporary contexts.
  • Comment on the formal elements within your work such as composition, colour, form, line, volume, shape, space, texture and pattern.
  • Include pictures of work by designers and artists you like. These can be useful as reference material and points of discussion.
  • Include any diagrams or images you may be using as source material. Use anything that grabs your attention.
  • Try to describe your responses to what you see and read, as well as experiences you have. Your life and your environment will feed your work.

You can learn more techniques and ideas for keeping a visual journal by searching the internet for inspiring sites.

Monash University also hold collections of artists' books at the Caulfield and Clayton campuses which can be viewed as reserve items in the library. For more information about these books, contact Judy Nolan.

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