dollar store art journal

One thing I love is a good journal. Being a writer, for me, half the fun is picking out a really nice journal. The other thing I love is Target. I try not to, but alas, I do. I love them for their dollar section, really. In need of a new journal, I decided to shop for a new one, but I didn’t have a whole lot of money on hand, and the journals I usually admire cost around $35 or more.

So enter the dollar spot at Target. I found a journal, bought it, altered it, and now I want to show you how I did it.

Dollar Store Altered Journal

by Diana Gonzalez, Arte Y Poemas

Project Materials:

  • Journal, $1
  • Gesso or white acrylic paint, on hand or $1
  • Pigment inks, $1 each and up
  • Bubble wrap, on hand
  • Magazine clippings, on hand
  • Glue stick, on hand
  • Mod Podge, on hand or about $5

Total: $1 and up

First, I bought myself a plain journal. I always go for nice thick ones, with lined pages, since I keep my writing separate from my artwork (as far as journals go, anyway).

dollar store art journal

It’s nice enough this way, I suppose but I really wanted to have a journal that I’d look forward to writing in. In my art journals, I keep minimal art on the covers, as somehow it hinders me. But with writing journals, it’s the opposite. Don’t ask me why.

Anyway, I covered it in gesso. If you don’t have gesso, just use white paint. I watered down my brush a bit, so that the the design on the cover still peaks through a little bit.

dollar store art journal
After that dried, I inked it up with some pigment inks by Clearsnap. USE PIGMENT INK. You can use any color; I used different shades of pink. I have found small pigment inks at Michaels in their dollar bins, so just keep your eye out when you are there.
dollar store art journal

After that, I remembered I had this fun mesh netting thingamajig so I used that, with some blue ink over it.

dollar store art journal

Just as I type this, I realized the name for the mesh thingie is “sequin waste ribbon” or punchinello. If you don’t have any, you can buy some at Gauche Alchemy for cheap. But use what you have! To get a similar look, take bubble wrap and ink it up like a rubber stamp, or use lace. You don’t have to buy anything.

Anyway, once you ink that up, blot it like a lipstick with a white piece of paper.

dollar store art journal


That leaves a very cool piece of paper that I will keep for my next project.
dollar store art journal

Now, I’m ready to do some collage work.

Just get a magazine or two that you like or that you read already, and clip out phrases and pics that inspire you or say something to you. Arrange as desired, and secure with glue stick or Mod Podge. There is no wrong way to express yourself!

dollar store art journal
First, I collaged the pieces around on the journal. Then, at the title, “True love sparkles” is where I messed a bit, so my mistake is being covered up with some scrapbook paper. Then, that butterfly is from a pack of stickers I got a few years back. I save (aka Hoard) certain supplies and things for rainy days and projects in the future. I bought that butterfly at least two years ago and now I am finally using it.
dollar store art journal
Once you’ve got your images down, add a bit more color! I used oil pastels by Pentel, and here’s a word of advice: oil pastels are CHEAP. CHEAP. You can pick a small pack of oil pastels up at your local craft store for about $5. Use what you have, though! You can use acrylic paints, PAN pastels, or whatever. Just add a little color. Or, glitter it up if you want! Just remember to spray it with some acrylic varnish afterwards, so you can stick this journal in your purse or backpack without getting your paint or glitter smudged.
And that’s it! My dollar spot journal got a makeover! I hope I have encouraged you to look at dollar store basics with an artistic eye. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a nice art journal!
dollar store art journal
Diana Gonzalez is a self taught mixed media artist and writer who blogs at
-Diana Gonzalez

“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
{Jack Kerouac}