A little introduction
My name is Iffa and I’m from Bangladesh. I have been bullet journaling for five years now. At the very beginning, minimalism was my style for journaling, and still, I adore them a lot. Though I’ve started making artistic spreads later, I still switch between them according to my needs.
Bullet journaling or planning was the key to organizing my overloaded thoughts and messy schedule. Before that, in my school days, I used to make simple daily planner spreads. It helped me a lot in my study. After getting introduced to the bullet journaling method, I started making simple daily to-dos and trackers in a lined notebook with some colored highlighters. It was working very well, especially during my exams. That is how I got attached to the bullet journaling method.
Painting has been my favorite hobby since my childhood. I included creativity in my bullet journal after two years with minimal doodles and fake calligraphy methods. I used to get inspired by creators on Pinterest especially. Later I found many beautiful accounts on Instagram. I thought it would be great if I could start my account to share my joy with others. So I started my Instagram account @tritopus_ in November 2018 but never posted frequently until I got into the community. I opened my youtube channel later in 2020. These accounts are helpful for my art and calligraphy skills because I hardly got time to draw or paint.
Let's start with spreads
How do I make spreads in my bullet journal?
First, choose a theme
I start by choosing a theme for the upcoming month. I generally get inspired by the weather, nature, and things I see around me. After getting an idea or topic for my theme, I search similar things on Pinterest and google. It can be a real picture or doodle. I scribble my thoughts with a pencil in my notebook. Sometimes, I start on a paper to see how my cover page will look after drawing. I do it when I choose a difficult art or something that I have never tried before. It’ll sound like too much effort but sometimes I want to take myself out of my comfort zone and don’t want to ruin my notebook. Later I redraw them with a clear vision of my cover page.
Then draw some spreads
I draw all of my monthly spreads and the first weekly spread of the month at once. I draw with light pencil strokes so that it doesn’t leave any marks after erasing them. I try to start setting up my bullet journal just before the month to come so that I can start planning from day one.
I choose my art medium beforehand. Generally, I use water-based markers or brush pens and sometimes I go with my watercolors. If I go with markers I redraw my art with waterproof fineliners before coloring them. But if I go with watercolors or acrylic paints, I redraw them afterward if I need to make any elements pop up.
Play with colors
I like to play with colors by trying out different combinations. I’m fond of soft and neutral colors but use colorful schemes sometimes. Neutrals and soft colors make everything look soothing to the eyes. Generally, I try to keep two to four colors in my color palette. While using watercolors, mixtures the colors don't look the same all the time and sometimes I change it depending on my mood.
While using a water-based medium, sometimes it’s hard to control the amount of water which warps the page a lot. So, I use an almost dry paintbrush that can pick up the color and spread it nicely. As all of the watercolor techniques are not suitable for normal or printing papers, I suggest you use watercolor paper for your painting. Then you can scan and print it out in normal paper and stick it to your bullet journal. You can add your art directly too.
I use four monthly spreads that I make every month. I start with my cover page, then a spread for a monthly calendar, a habit tracker where I track six to eight habits generally, and then a content planner. Sometimes I skip my weeklies when I don’t have much time to make one.
I’ve found so many people telling me that they don’t like their drawing or they don’t have much time to draw. If you’re feeling that way too, we can go with the basics because it’s not necessary to make creative bullet journal spreads every time. You can change everything to your own needs. But if you’re looking for some tips and tricks on how I do my creative spreads when I don’t want to make creative spreads, these are for you.
Tip #1 - You can add washi tapes with the basic layouts.
Tip #2 - Draw anything you want and fill them in with your favorite washi tapes.
Tip #3 - Add printouts or cutouts from your favorite memories or photos from Pinterest.
Tip #4 - Use stickers that match your theme.
Tip #5 - Go for a rolling weekly spread when you don’t have much time to create a layout. That means just add the headers and write down your to-dos daily. Later if any spaces are left, add stickers, cutouts, or anything to decorate it.
Meaning to me
For me, journaling is the purest thing that I want to do for myself. I like to journal in the morning when everyone is asleep and no sounds but birds are chirping. Sometimes, I love to drink a cup of tea, sit by a window, watch the sky and that inspires me to write my thoughts! You don’t need too much stationery to do journaling or bullet journaling. You can do it with a pen only. Because every handwriting and spread has its own beauty. The aesthetics will build up on your own.
Thanks to Iffa for sharing her story with us. Be sure to follow her at @tritopus_.