Art JournalBullet Journal

Setting Up a Bullet Art Journal

Are you falling behind on your New Year goals? Instead of bumming yourself out and beating yourself up for the things you are not accomplishing, set up a new bullet art journal. It’s immensely helpful! Here is a complete guide to setting up a bullet art journal to help you be more creative and productive.

To understand the system, it’s vital to understand what a bullet journal is, what an art journal is, how to establish attainable goals, and then how to put it all together in a kick butt book.

Bullet Journal

A bullet journal is a type of planner. As Ryder Carroll, the original bullet journal system creator said, “Bullet journaling is a mindfulness process disguised as a productivity system. It helps you get more organized and juggle your responsibilities. At the same time it helps you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.”

The bullet journal system is super flexible. It’s great for prioritizing and accomplishing things on your to-do list. And, as a bonus, it’s super easy to set up. All you need is a blank book and a pen.

Many people get lined journals or journals with dotted paper, but really love using a Dylusions book in the 8.5 x 8.5 inch size (pictured). The mixed media paper in the book is perfect for a dual purpose bullet art journal book.

Regardless of what book you choose, setting up a bullet journal (also known by the cool kids as a BuJo) follows this general formula:

Bullet Journal Anatomy

  • Title Page
  • Index
  • Future Log
  • Monthly Spreads
  • Weekly Spreads
  • Collections

Here is Ryder Carroll with a super fast explanation of each of the pages and purposes.

Art Journal

As opposed to a productivity boosting system, an art journal is a creative book kept by an artist as a visual record of thoughts and ideas. Although it is sometimes similar to a sketchbook, art journals generally combine visual journaling and writing to create finished pages. Every imaginable style, media, and technique is used by art journalists. When it comes to the types of work represented in artist journals, there really aren’t any rules, and each book is as unique as the artist who created it.

Some of the many reasons to art journal include:

  • Art therapy / to get your feelings out
  • An art warm up exercise
  • Experiment with new ideas, products, media
  • Document a moment in life
  • Satisfy your creative bug
  • For the hell of it

Art Journal Supplies

Since art journaling can be done in an infinite number of ways, the supplies needed vary by artist. If you’re looking for a starting point, I put together this list of what I consider must have art journal supplies.

Art Journal Examples

If you’d like to see some samples, check out:
Art Journal Round Robin 1
Art Journal Round Robin 2
Art Journal Round Robin 3

— Or see this full video tutorial on making a summer themed page.

Setting Attainable Goals

In addition to other goals, one of my visions for this year is to create an art journal page every week. Many people complete a daily art journal page. I think that’s great, but for me, it’s not a practical goal. I follow the SMART goal principle when I choose my goals.


SMART goals are established using a specific set of criteria that ensures your goals are attainable. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

When writing a SMART goal, you work through each of those terms to build a goal that shares exactly what needs to be accomplished, when it needs to be accomplished by, and how you’ll know when you’re successful. Setting goals this way is helpful, because it eliminates nebulous ideas, sets a clear due date, and makes it easier to track progress and identify missed targets.

So, for me, completing an art journal page daily is not achievable. My goal is to complete one art journal page or spread a week. It is specific (I’ll complete an art journal piece), measurable (there should be 52 at the end of the year), achievable (for me, weekly is achievable), relevant (art is my passion), and time-bound (weekly).

Beyond just making goals, though, I am making a journal to track them. In a study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, it was concluded that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down on a regular basis.

My Bullet Art Journal

So, by making a combined bullet art journal, I am not only writing down my goals, but completing them in the same book as the accountability log.

Now that you know what I’m doing and why, here’s what it looks like:

Title Page

In 2020, I wanted to use the Color of the Year on my journal cover page. Hello 2020 seemed like a great opening message and counted as my week 1 art journal page since I didn’t actually start this bullet art journal in the first week of the year. You can see the full process video for the title page on the Pantone Color of the Year post.

Also, opposite the title page, I included a key to my journal. This is another way to personalize the system so that it works for you in the best way possible.

Bullet Journal Title Page and Key


When you start a new journal, you won’t have much to list in your index, but set aside two pages. Continue to fill out the index as the journal becomes more and more full.

Bullet Journal Index

Future Log

I measure the pages and split them into 4 rows for the future log. I have a really old set of calendar stamps from my old scrapbook days. [The ‘Moments in Time’ (D1339) set was from Close to My Heart. Currently, there are some available on eBay.] On Amazon, there’s this similar set. Anyway, it’s a great set because it includes 7 generic small calendar stamps, each starting on a different day of the week. I stamped in each month on the left and left room to the right to add any future events as they arise. Hand lettering the months helped make the spread feel less manufactured.

In the middle of the future log is an art journal page with a bird on it. I adore birds. They show up very often in my work.  I knew he’d make me happy each time I flipped back to my future log to add in new items 🙂

Bullet Journal future log

Monthly Spreads

The opening spread for each month normally consists of: the name of the month (duh), a calendar for the full month, and some type of art or doodling. People customize their monthly spreads to their liking, but I also like to include my goals for the month with a tracker and a to-do list for my repetitive monthly tasks.

I created a monthly art calendar for each month of the year. Since it’s already done, I just print it out and used double sided tape to adhere it to the monthly spread page. If you’d like to download a copy, simply subscribe to the newsletter to gain access to the download library.

Bullet Journal Monthly Spread

Get your free art calendar download.

Weekly Spreads

Weekly spread exampleCreate a system for your weekly spreads that is easy to quickly reproduce and then make a template.  Investing the initial time in making the template will make the entire project more achievable.

I created a template for my weekly spreads after doing a lot of Pinterest research with 6 daily squares and one rectangle for weekly notes. I cut out the squares from a piece of chipboard so I have a sturdy, reusable stencil. It lasted the year.

Each week, I turn the template to a different orientation. It makes it more interesting than repeating the exact same page over and over yet maintains continuity. It also makes it quick to replicate. If it took a long time to create a weekly spread, I might get tired of keeping up with the practice.

Sample bullet art journal page

Art Journal Page Week 2: Your Goals

Remember how writing down your goals makes you 42% more likely to achieve it? Make an art journal page or spread with your word or the year or resolutions to help you attain your goals.

The art journal entry for week 2 in 2020 focused on my word of the year. I joined Ali Edwards One Little Word tribe long ago. Every year, I choose one word to use as a theme for the year. I was brainstorming all the first week of January when my word finally struck me. Vision. 2020 Vision. On the vision art journal page, I define vision and list several synonyms. On the opposite page, I included a profound quote from Helen Keller.

Daily Logs

On a daily level, try to prioritize no more than 3 to-dos. Of course you might have more than 3 things to accomplish in a day; however, if you prioritize 3 and check them each off, you’ll make great strides towards your goals. I’m using the larger box to catch some additional “any day” to-dos for the week.

Project Pages

If you have a larger project that includes a lot of steps, consider setting up a couple of pages in your Bujo Art Journal with lists and to-dos for the project plan. Add it to your index page so you can easily refer back to it as you work through it.


Additionally, consider setting up pages which list a collection of the movies you see, the books you read, the TV shows you watch, etc… There are some gorgeous examples on Pinterest. By including collections, your Bujo Art Journal will not only include your to-dos, goals, and art…it will also become a historical record and memory keeping system.


In general, a book and a pen will cover your needs, but here are other materials:

Are you ready to get back on track with your goals? Set up a customizable bullet art journal to help you be more creative, set attainable goals, and increase overall productivity.

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to receive your free art calendar printables.

Tags: Art Journal, BuJo, bullet art journal

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