Digital Art Journaling: Start with a Symbol

Symbolism copy Digital Art Journaling: Start with a Symbol It's been a little while since we talked about digital art journaling here, and this beautiful form of expression continues to gain momentum in the scrapbooking community. More digital designers offer a wider variety of kits, graphics, classes, and tutorials than ever before. Although art journaling defies description, the use of symbols is prevalent in these often-photoless pages. And if you're wondering how to start a scrapbook layout without a photo, a meaningful, symbolic image, item, or graphic provides the perfect starting point. A symbol is "a thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract." Symbols are highly personal, and the same object may mean something completely different for you than for your neighbor. If you are searching for a symbol to base your layout on, first ask yourself what feeling or emotion you want to convey. Do you want your layout to communicate love (for your children, yourself, your husband)? Are you frustrated and upset, and want to work out those emotions on a page? Maybe you feel trapped, scared, optimistic, giddy; maybe you have a particular event in mind that brings up a whole truckload of emotions and thoughts. Once you know what you want to communicate, it's time to think about the how. Is there a color, animal, or item that speaks to you and seems to embody your feelings? If you don't know where to start, check out this excellent resource at Color Wheel Pro that delves into the meanings and symbolism behind color. Or do what I did and search Google! You'd be amazed what comes up when you search, for example, "symbols for optimism." Google will return results ranging from dream imagery to animal and occult symbol information and everything in between! If I seem a little vague on the particulars, there's a reason. Although there are a huge variety of established "collections" of symbols and meanings. stretching back thousands of years, the best part of art journaling and using symbols is that it's so personal. Maybe the color red usually means anger or passion, but for you, it calls to mind childhood and fond memories of a red-painted room. Every person will interpret a symbol differently based on their own life experiences, so don't get stuck trying to find the "right" symbol. It's only "right" if it means something to you.  I strolled through the DST galleries and found a few examples of digital art journaling pages that spoke to me. Again - the beauty of this art - the symbolism that I read may not be what the artist was thinking, and it may not be what you get out of it, but that's okay. I hope you are inspired to delve into the mystery and magic of symbolism on your next scrapbook page! If so, please come share it with us!
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Change by strawberryredhead

Butterflies are traditional symbols of change and transformation.

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Come Fly With Me by mystampin2003

Hot air balloons can mean rising above or overcoming, and coupled with the birds and butterflies here, this layout speaks to me about creativity or imagination taking off.

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Sisterhood is Still Powerful by sbpoet

Pink jumps out at me from this page, signifying femininity. Coupled with the strong, blocky words, I read girl power!

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Alone by litabells

Litabells chose the perfect colors for this layout. Color imagery traditionally ascribes gloomy, sad feelings to dark purple, and the muted tones convey her message beautifully. 

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Free to be Creative by lilibug

Lilibug's hand adds a highly meaningful personal touch to her page. I love the obvious symbolism of the bird flying the cage and the wings behind the word "creative," as she journals about finally feeling free to create. What a beautiful, touching page!    Send article as PDF   
  • Christine Smith Digital Design

    Fabulous pages. I agree, symbolism is a wonderful jump start in an AJ page. I find they help me express ideas in a more global thinking way than words can sometimes. Here’s one I did on the idea of seeing/vision and they are several symbols on the page. Have a great day Michelle!

  • Michelle Huegel

    Oh, Christine, that is one of my favorite songs EVER! Love the subtle eyes, and magnifying glass. Awesome page! thanks for sharing!

  • Sissy Sparrows

    What a great article Michelle…I really enjoyed reading it along with the great art journal visuals from these ladies.

  • Johanna

    Great article. Thank you for sharing your tips. I love the examples. Beautiful layouts!!