We got to know Hanna through one of our mutual friends. (which is Shannon, if you remember her from our Ikigai blogpost) We knew that she was one of our customers, but only when we stumbled upon some of her posts on her bookstagram account, did we discover her collages.
We knew we had to see her notebooks in person. Eventually, we invited her to our studio and she brought all of her journals along. As we flipped page after page, we saw these really personal and experimental collages about music, memories, and emotions. Read on to find out more about Hanna's journaling style and process.
All the words were intentionally blurred out upon the request of the creator.
When did you start journaling?
I started in 2016 when I graduated from diploma and took a year off to not do anything in particular.
Why did you start?
Everybody else was progressing with their lives then, so I felt lonely and had to write it all down. I’ve never journaled consistently like this before, but it has always been a thing for me. I started keeping a diary since I was ten. Most of the times I use it to keep track of what I do because I forget very easily, and I don’t want to forget the things that matter to me.
Have you always been making collages?
I haven’t always been making collages, but I started because I discovered the studyblr community on Tumblr and art journaling back then, but I couldn’t keep up because I realised it was really expensive to get stationery and I had quite limited art skills, (laughs) so I combined whatever I could make of those two things.
During my first year in diploma, we had to do all these artsy projects, and I still had leftover materials from then, so I wanted to finish using them somehow. I also had a lot of magazines at home, so I tore them up, painted some pages, and tried to see what happened.
When I started journaling, I never planned on showing them to anyone. Knowing this definitely gave me a lot more freedom to experiment and make mistakes. So even if it turned out bad, I felt fine. Although I have thought about it—if I actually live long enough, I might show it to my grandchildren, to see what I’ve done in my roaring twenties!
How important are your journals to you? What kind of a role do you think they play?
Sometimes I treat it like a person because I’m not used to talking to people about my feelings. Most of the times, when I journal, I’m not looking for an opinion, I just need to let it out. So I just put them on paper where no one would ever see it—which is why it became so personal, I suppose.
What do you feel when you read your past journal entries?
Usually, after a long while, I would go through it and read some of the older entries and think to myself, “wow, I sounded so wise here, but I was so stupid today, what’s going on?” (laughs) Or why was I so angry, why was I so sad? I keep surprising myself with different versions of me. It’s really interesting to look back at who I was at different moments.
What’s your process like when it comes to journaling?
It’s messy! I usually have some extra cut-out magazines that I put in a small container, so I just open my drawer to see what I have. Usually, I just take anything and compile it. I improvise a lot during the process until I feel like it looks good. Sometimes, if I have more free time, I would just paste whatever that looks nice first and later on, I would revisit it and write something that may or may not relate to the collage.
From your journals, I can tell that you write a lot about memorable events. Tell us more—is this where you find most of your inspiration?
Yeah, because these events make me happy and I don’t want to forget them. I remember there was once when my friend spontaneously asked “when was the last time you felt alive?” and I was like “oh, shit, lemme just write this down” (laughs)
When I travel, I don’t write so much about what I feel. Instead, I tend to write a lot about the details of what I do or see every day. I usually travel with my mom when she has conferences for 2-3 days, so there are times when I just go exploring on my own and I notice things along the way.
Concerts are more emotion-related because they’re kind of the only time when I get to meet my closest friends, who all have very different schedules. So every time we’re out for concerts, I’ll make sure it’s memorable. (laughs) I would then write about all the things we did together just for the sake of remembering the good times.
How does journaling help you as a person?
Personally, it helped me to not talk so much to myself about negative things and dwell on them. I feel sad sometimes, so I want to express it, but I also don’t want to let it out on myself. Journaling helps me to feel much better afterwards because I would feel like I actually let the emotion out physically through the act of writing it down and making things.
I journal at least once a week these days and I don’t just journal anywhere, because I want to do it in my own space, at my own pace. The act of journaling gives me a metaphorical and literal safe space for myself to create freely.
How does your physical safe space look like?
I journal on a huge table that used to belong to my mom. I hijacked it, so she got a new table because it’s full of my stuff now—there’s a cutting mat and the drawers are full of all sorts of materials. There’s even a Muji stationery holder I got for all my pens and tapes — I’m pretty proud of it!
I like the mess, it feels more natural and it feels like I have more control, like “I let this table be messy because I wanted it to be messy”. You know, to have that kind of twisted power? It’s like when you wanted to do the laundry, but somebody tells you to do the laundry and you’re like “yeah I’m not going to do it anymore, because you told me to. I want to do it in my own terms.” (laughs)
I usually journal when nobody is home during the day, or when my mom is asleep at night. Because only when I’m alone, I feel like I can open myself up.
What would you tell someone who wants to journal but finds it hard to start?
Start with what you feel the most: whether you’re feeling particularly lonely or excited, just start with that. I think you can also find inspiration online and try to copy the kind of style you like. Eventually, you’ll find out what sort of materials you like to work with, what kind of mood you want to achieve with every spread, and so on. Go explore!
Also, personally, I’ve never done it for the ‘gram. I only post pictures of my journal when I think the spread is pretty. I don’t plan for it to be Instagrammable. It’s my personal space to express, after all.
Tell us a secret.
When I was in primary school, a girl said hi to me and I said hi back, but she was actually saying it to someone behind me. I didn’t know the girl, so I honestly thought I was about to make a new friend. It was really embarrassing!