Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Journal52: Interview with creator, Chelle Stein

By now, many of you have probably heard of Journal52, a new workshop in 2014 that is currently spreading throughout the art journal world. What an honor to have an opportunity to interview its creator, the lovely Chelle Stein.

“There’s always a new page to turn to and more paper!”
-Chelle Stein, creator of Journal52

Q: Chelle, one of my favorite things about 2014 so far has got to be Journal52! For those that don’t know you already, who is Chelle Stein? What is your art/journaling background? And how would you describe Journal52?

A: Glad you are enjoying Journal52 and thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed! For those who are not familiar with Journal52 yet – it is a free art journal workshop with weekly prompts to keep everyone participating motivated, inspired, and creating all year long. The response has been amazing and it's so exciting to see so many people from all over the world come together to share, create, and encourage one another!

As for a little bit about me, I'm a 32 year old girl from Pittsburgh who loves to create. I'm married to a wonderfully supportive guy and we have three kiddos who always keep us on our toes!

All of this started for me when I was about15 or 16 years old – I would buy blank journals and just fill them up with everything and anything –newspaper & magazine clippings, drawings, poems, quotes from my friends – I had stacks and stacks of notebooks.

I took a break from my journals for several years and that was one of my biggest mistakes. At that time, I didn't think it mattered – I thought oh, gotta pay the bills, gotta take care of the kids, gotta clean the house – it really took its toll on me emotionally and physically. Then I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder... that really woke me up to realize that creating – whether it be art, writing, music – anything – was a really important part of who I am and a vital part of staying healthy and being well.

So I started to get back into doing what I always did, and to my delight and surprise I learned that what I did had not only a name, but an entire industry built around it with books and magazines, YouTube videos and products galore!

Last April I created the website where I started sharing the different things I learned and was experimenting with in my own journals. This year I wanted to offer something special for all of my subscribers and Facebook fans – so I created Journal52 – and to my amazement it has grown into a fantastic community of people and inspiration!

Q: Journal52 has just exploded in the last few weeks. Last I heard, there were something like 2,000+ individuals participating. It has been so inspiring to see you in action and to see art created by so many others (artists of all ages and backgrounds, first time art journalers, even kids!). Why do you think it is resonating with so many? What do you hope others get out of it? And how has it impacted you/your art/journal practice?

A: We now have over 4,000 creative individuals just in our Facebook group alone – it is very exciting to see so many people come together and share their work with one another!

I think one of the reasons it resonates with so many is because it is so accessible – there's no gigantic expensive supply list, there's no cost to join, and the community aspect on Facebook gives everyone a chance to share their work and ask questions. I've received so many touching emails and messages thanking me for this workshop, how it's helped them and why they are enjoying it – words can't even express how much those little notes mean to me.

My vision for the workshop is to inspire others to just relax, let go, and create. I wanted anyone who wants to participate to be able to join us and find a way to be creative – with no worries about cost or ability or skill. I've always said, you don't have to be an artist to enjoy art journaling. My hope is that everyone who is participating can find some type of inspiration to get started and just create something – anything! Even if it's just with crayons – creating is such a great way to relax, let go, and just be mindful of the moment.

It's really been beneficial for me as well – having 4,000+ people waiting for me each week has really helped me be more dedicated to my practice of art journaling. I'm a terrible procrastinator, so Journal52 is helping me be more focused and creating on a schedule.

Q: The prompts and pages are wildly different from week to week. Where do you find inspiration? And is Journal52 reflective of your process for your own art/journal?

A: I find inspiration EVERYWHERE. I get my best ideas when I disconnect from the internet. I look through books and magazines, and then just sit down with my favorite pen and a composition notebook and write out ideas until I think of something. Music is also a big inspiration for me. I have a list right now of over 150 different prompts and quotes, so there's definitely enough to keep us creating for this year and beyond!

For my own art journal, I just make whatever happens and what I'm thinking about when I sit down to create. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't – but that's the best part – there's always a new page to turn to and more paper!

Q: You have a message of frugality and encourage others to use what they already have on hand. I love that! What are some art supply lessons you have learned along the way? And what are your favorite art/journal supplies, especially for newbies?

A: It's so easy to be swayed into thinking you need the latest and greatest art supplies and to spend a small fortune in the process, just to learn that maybe those aren't the right mediums for you. Art journaling is such an individual process – which is why I stress using what you have and what you're comfortable with using.

The hardest lesson I've learned through trial and error is to let paint and adhesives dry between layers and writing on them– I can't tell you how many pens and markers I've destroyed or what weird colors I've made because I couldn't wait for paint to dry! I finally got a heat tool a few weeks ago – oh my, what a difference that has made!

Some of my favorite supplies I recommend for beginners: matte gel medium for collage/as an adhesive, student grade acrylic paints, and old books and magazines from thrift stores to use as collage materials. I recently also received a wonderful gift of Sakura Koi watercolors which I am so thankful for – they are so vibrant and fun to use and I would recommend them for anyone who wants to get started with watercolor painting. I have a lot to learn about watercolors, but I'm enjoying them immensely.

Q: Any other advice for new artists/art journalers?

A: Just dive in and keep practicing and learning! I think the two hardest things when just starting are finding your style/voice and getting past that fear of creating. So my suggestion is just keep creating and making stuff – you WILL get better the more you do it and practice and eventually you will find a style that's unique to you. The important thing is at the end of the day you took some time with yourself to create – that's what really matters.

Q: Your Journal52 art journal pages are so positive and cheerful. Has it always been this way? How has your art/art journaling practice evolved over time?

A: My art hasn't always been happy stuff, no – because as we all know, life is not always happy. But with art and anything in life – you have a choice. You can dwell on the sad stuff, and sometimes it's good to get those really emotional pages out of the way – but in the end I'd much rather make art that lifts me up when I look back at it. For me, life is about living in the moment, so I don't really dwell on the stuff that's happened to me – I've learned to let it go and move on so even if I do create something that's emotional, I usually don't keep it. Once it's on paper, it's out of me and I'm done with it and ready to move on to the next thing. I'd much rather focus on the positives in life!

Q: How are you able to manage the personal connection you seem to have with so many others? What strategies are working for you? What have been some of your challenges and how are you overcoming them?

A: My biggest challenge right now is that I want to comment on each and everyone's lovely art pages and tell everyone how amazing they are - however with thousands of pages each week it's just not physically possible. So I am really happy to see everyone in the group commenting on each other’s work and liking each other’s' posts.

To stay on top of everything else, I've been using Evernote – it is the most amazing and awesome organization tool ever invented – I use it to help organize the prompts, collect inspiration for's really helpful for keeping track of everything in one place.

I've also found it's important to give myself a schedule for checking email, looking through photos, moderating posts and comments, etc. - because it can really interfere with family and life balance if you're not careful. I try to unplug for several hours each day though that sometimes takes more discipline than I have!

Q: What advice would you give to others who want to attempt launching something like Journal52?

A: It's clich̩ Рbut just do it! Write or doodle out a plan and make it happen! Keep it simple, create from the heart, and share your unique gifts with the world.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: My mind is always racing with ideas and possibilities for what's next. I have some pretty big, wild dreams that are going to take a lot of planning, work, time and the help of others. But I do know I will always be focused on making art accessible and using art to help people.

If you'd like to join Journal52, you can learn more here:

And of course please join us on Facebook:

Get to know Chelle Stein:

“…even if I do create something that's emotional, I usually don't keep it. Once it's on paper, it's out of me and I'm done with it and ready to move on to the next thing. I'd much rather focus on the positives in life!”  -Chelle Stein, creator of Journal52

Wow, over 4,000 and still growing. Congratulations, Chelle. Thank you for the positive impact you are making in the art journaling world. Wishing you all the best in 2014!
There are no rules!
;-> Felicia M. Borges-Mixed Media Artist
aka The Journal Junkie
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  1. Such a wonderful inspiring interview. I am part of the Journal52 world and it has given me insight to get out my paints and following the weekly prompts really gets you to be creative. There are loads of wonderful items posted in the group each week and Is just great to know that no-one is laughing at you and your creations. I suffer with Anxiety and Depression from previous happenings in my life but Journal52 thanks to Chelle is helping me along so much in my life. Keep up all the hard work you put into the group Chelle lots of us am sure appreciate everything you do and you are an inspiration to me xxx God Bless Ya love xxx

    1. Wendy, thanks for stopping by. Isn't Chelle the greatest-such a catalyst for positivity and momentum. Just adore her. Glad to hear that Chelle/Journal52 are doing good things for you.

  2. i am so grateful for journal 52, already in 4 weeks, i have grown a lot, in painting,the positive attitude i have when i star drawing, its art and i have learned through all these new people in my life right now how thankful i am and i get to do what i have loved to do since i was very little.i get so excited about what we are going to do next ..just fantastic ty again chelle

    1. Becky, appreciate your being here. Chelle is awesome, isn't she! Just love what she is doing with Journal52. Glad to hear you are getting something out of it as well.