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Artist Spotlight – Merel Djamila

Why do you love creating?

I love creating because it’s my way of telling a story. I can stop the chaos in my head by using my hands to create visuals or corporate storytelling in my book. I love letting my thoughts flow on a blank sheet of paper.

What tips do you have for beginners?

My tip is to simply start with what you already own at home. You do not need a lot of materials to journal: a simple notebook and a pen will do the job. Ask yourself what kind of journal you want to start – to give you a few options, you can choose between a travel journal, a bullet journal or an art journal (or maybe you do not want to choose – that is fine as well!). Collect old magazines, scrapbook paper, travel tickets and keep track of important days by gluing it all in your journal.

What do you do when you don’t know what to make?

When I do not know what to create, I usually look up inspirational pictures on the internet. My go-to websites are Pinterest and Instagram. Although I never want to copy work from other artists, I think it can be truly enchanting to see how other artists fill their journals. I can also get inspired by song lyrics or poems.

How do you find time to make things?

People ask me this question a lot. My answer is: you make time for it. I think that is usually the case when you have a hobby or a passion. Other people make time to (watch) sport or to game. I make time to journal. To be honest: I do not always feel like journaling. There are days where I struggle with creating because I do not have inspiration or the end result of something I created that day does not make me happy. But to get good at something, you have to practice a lot and put your heart into what you do. That is how you grow.

What is your biggest struggle or barrier to creating and how do you overcome it?

My biggest struggle is my insecurity. On Instagram, a lot of amazing artists post their work. Sometimes, it is hard to not compare yourself with them. Then again, Taylor Swift once said the following thing: ‘Never compare yourself to other people. It’s like comparing your behind the scenes to their highlight reel.’ I truly believe in that.

How do you go from beginner to expert?

To be honest, I do not see myself as an expert. I am a twenty-year-old student right now and I feel like I still have to grow so much in what I do. Perhaps, there will come a time where I will not post my journals online anymore, but I will crave a career in illustration or in audiovisual design. All my options are still open and that is why I still want to continue to grow in each direction I go.

What are your must-have supplies?

My must-have supplies are a sketchbook, a pair of scissors, glue, a pen or a fine-liner and magazines. Collaging is a really nice way to start journaling. If you want to use paint in your book, you could do that as well. I often use acrylics or gouache paint.

Do you feel like your art reflects your personality? How do you get it to look like you?

I feel like my art definitely reflects my personality. When you look at my work, you see a lot of bold, happy colors. I am quite a positive and happy person in real life. Then again, just like every other person, I have struggles as well. I used to be a really shy kid back in the days and I still have trouble opening up to people (especially in crowds). When I was younger, it helped for me to write about these struggles. Now, I still do that, but I write poems about it. What I love about the community I share my posts with on Instagram, is that I feel like I can be really open with them. Although I used to fear sharing personal posts on social media, it becomes less of a struggle once you know that these people experience the same things and they can relate to the things you say. It makes you feel like you are less alone.

Merel Djamila

Merel is a twenty-year-old creative self-taught journal artist. Although she’s still a graphic design student, she devotes all of her free time to art journaling and writing.