How to Start an Inspiration Notebook

How to start an Idea Book - a free tutorial by iHanna found at
How to Start an Inspiration Notebook or a Glue Book of Ideas!

Every creative person needs a way to store ideas and inspiration. I have many different methods of saving, filing and capturing inspiration. This blog is one method, exploring ideas in my Art Journal is another. And a third one that I’ve always loved is keeping Idea Notebooks, or what you also might call Glue Books!

A Glue Book to me is a notebook, bought or handmade, where you glue down any image that spark something within you (any feeling goes). I glue down not only what’s pretty but what speaks to me emotionally. I might be drawn to the pattern or colour of a fabric, a facial expression, the idea of how a doll is made or fall in love with an illustration. Keeping a Glue Book is not difficult, but I thought I’d share a few ideas to get you started. I hope to inspire you to do some serious cut & pasting this week!

Glue Book of Ideas layout

First of all decide if a Glue Book is something you need, of course. Maybe you already have one going? I’d love to see it! But I guess not everyone has such a huge need to cut out images as I do. If you don’t already collect images but want to start an Inspiration Notebook, maybe a sketchbook or a binder for patterns would be a better fit for you…

Brown paper Glue Book handmade

Pick a notebook

You might want to try out working in a small notebook exploring one colour or making miniature collage compositions? I’m crazy, so I’m doing it all. But not at the same time, I promise. Anyway. Right now I’ve bound simple notebooks for myself, covered in brown paper. I love brown paper! They are 21×15,5 centimeters. They have soft covers and are fun to work in.

Brown paper notebook as Glue Book of Ideas

Pick one that you like (or make one), and try it out for a few pages. Preferably a notebook that has a flexible spine (because the content of the notebook will grow as you fill it with images), thread bound (because a glue binding often is not as long lived) and filled with blank pages (because you don’t need lines to write on for this project). Some notebooks have extremely thin pages that will bubble and curl even when you use a dry glue stick – yuck! Just avoid them! :-)

Scissor and clippings

Collect Images that Inspire you

I have a special transparent folder where I try to put magazine clippings and prints that I know I want to put into my Glue Book of Ideas. What should go into the inspiration notebook, the Art Journal or a spread in my writing diary is intuitive and nothing I worry much about. It happens like it happens. It’s all inspiration to me, and as long as I feel comfortable using my images somewhere I do it.

I go through a magazine
from start to finish and tear out everything that I like. Cutting out images is like therapy to me. Some images will end up in mail art, collages or in some of my many unsorted folders. I tear out articles and bigger (whole page) images, and cut out titles, details or smaller images with a small scissors. I have a special spiral notebook for interior designs/home ideas, by the way. Then I sort some images into the pile that will be used in the Glue Book. Now it’s time to glue a few of them down! Yay!

Create a Layout

I have no chronology, or special order, to my Glue Books. How you do it is up to you. In the last one I had a Fashion section, for pretty clothes and sewing ideas, but other than that I will mix everything on a page – but in an aesthetic way. To me this is kind of like creating a new magazine, just for me! I’m doing a layout, and I’m diffidently not randomly picking any images. I pick images that I think will “work together” and then I do a loose composition on a spread, mostly to know how and what fill fit into that spread. But also to make sure it looks good together. The aesthetic of the page is important to me too, and an ugly layout will ruin the prettiest of pictures for me. Sometimes I go back and write some notes about what I like most. Sometimes I add in a date, at least the year.

Glue Book of Inspiration

When I am happy with the layout I glue everything down, using a glue stick. How you arrange your images is also part of the inspiration. You might want to cover the entire page and not leaving any white space, like Mariana DeLoto does in her amazing visual notebooks. Her journals sparkle of pattern and colour! Mine are somber in comparison, but to each their own style.

Glue book: I like to Cut & Paste Stuff

And that’s it. Easy huh? My process of starting a Glue Book and keeping it growing is all about keeping it fun! I almost never buy magazines but friends send or give me theirs when they’ve read them. And I keep a pile close by, to cut into when I need to. Cutting, sorting and pasting is comforting to me because I’ve done it since I was a kid. How do you store your inspirational images? Let me know in the comments!

Happy July to all of you! And a very happy Glue it Tuesday my friends!

Every Tuesdays in July I will post more images from this Glue Book!

I am going to post about my project 365 collages on Wednesdays for a while. I hope you will visit for both, and consider subscribing to this blog!

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18 Responses to How to Start an Inspiration Notebook

  1. jenni says:

    I am so inspired I love your pages and how to description , I am obsessed with all kinds of inspiration books, I have done this since I was a child too :)

  2. Gabriele says:

    Looking at your pages mostly means to me: a lot of work afterward, because you are giving me so much of inspiration! Thank you Hanna, love your notebooks!
    Gabriele 8

  3. Carly Rogers says:

    How lovely! What a great idea. I was thinking of doing an inspiration pegboard, but I like this idea for different groupings.

  4. Con el mate says:

    I love this idea. I too need a place to store the images that I love but cannot find a place for. I usually make handmade postcards, which allow me to be more free in my choices of topic and images, and I also keep an index card box where I like to improvise with different ideas. To me it’s very important to have a place where I can just glue what I like without worrying about everything else! Great post.

  5. Susie LaFond says:

    Wonderful insight to inspire and excite many to walk an unexplored path; one never knows where it will lead and sometimes where the path leads can be amazing.

  6. melydia says:

    I’ve never thought of my glue books as inspiration books. I just cut out random things that I like for whatever reason – it’s pretty, it’s funny, it’s just nifty – and glue them into a notebook. It’s fun to page through them later, and I’ve even made some for other people. I also gluebook my travels but that’s a more recent development. There’s something very soothing about cutting up pieces of paper and gluing them to other pieces of paper.

  7. Pam says:

    I love this idea so much. I am always tearing things out of magazines, but I’ve never thought to glue them into an inspiration notebook. How fun to look through!

  8. storybeader says:

    your glue book reminds me of Pinterest! It’s a great idea. I get magazines from friends and cut out things I like. They end up in boxes and files and everywhere! Having a glue book would keep everything organized…! {:-Deb

  9. Mary Walker says:

    I need to do this , good idea.

  10. Marit says:

    I have all sorts of ‘systems’ going on to collect my images and letters/phrases… and it never seems to work. I do like the gluebook though (but it’s not for me, as I want loose images to choose from to glue in my art journals – that wouldn’t work if they were glued down already…) Happy “Glue it Tuesday” on Wednesday ;)

  11. Patricia says:

    Love your books! And thank you for letting us take a peek! I just started an inspiration journal too…colors, textures, designs. I try to glue like images down on a page…I have a page full of interesting doorways & one just for staircases :) I find the images percolate in my brain & somehow end up in my art. Definitely a good practice!
    Have a wonderful, creative week! :)

  12. This idea just grabbed me. It’s time! I must start an Idea Journal. Oh- and great idea for storage of Magazine collage pieces in the clear page holders! I’m definitely going to try that!

  13. Chris says:

    Hanna, is there a way to donate to your site? I can’t really spend as much as I’d like to order from your etsy, but I would like to support you for all the things you provide, like this tutorial! and just think you’re groovy. Let me know.

    I will put making an inspiration book on my list. I have 10 things on it for this weekend. HA!

  14. Great post and I really did those dotted scissors!

  15. CindyK says:

    I’ve been collecting pictures but did not have a purpose for them until I saw this. You cannot believe how inspired I am feeling even though I should be climbing in bed. I see paper, glue and fun in my future. Ahh… :-)

  16. Lay Hoon says:

    Such eye catching… there are just so lovely & lively

  17. Kaisa says:

    I missed this post originally but I’m glad I found it here under tutorials. :) Have you heard of commonplace books/journals? I hadn’t until three years ago but I have been keeping one since I was a kid – I just had no idea what it was called and that other people had been keeping ones since the Renaissance if not before. I think an inspiration book is a kind of sub category of commonplace books. I don’t know if you have read it but Quinn from Quinn Creative looked into their history and posted on it. (You can find a link into my blog post on my commonplace books in the comments.) The more I get to know about them, the more interesting they become. What ever form they take, commonplace books seem to be a cornucopia of creativity and thinking mixed with knowledge and information in a very inspirational way! :D

  18. Claudia says:

    Such a cute idea! I love it!

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