Saving Ideas

This post was originally published on Toy Photographers.

Google image search ‘idea journaling’ and you get beautiful pages full of neat handwriting, perfect sketches, scrapbook paper and washi tape.

I keep an idea journal. Mine is not beautiful.

My journal (or should I say journals, because I constantly start new ones before old ones are full) is messy – scrawled script, scribbled pictures – complete nonsense to the onlooker. However, this process is a way for me to save things that I may not remember later, to brainstorm vague ideas for images and make those ideas fuller, to feel like I’m creating even when I don’t have a camera in my hand.

This process also makes me feel more sane. I’m a planner and a list maker and I think of ideas at inopportune times. So, rather than create right away, I write it down and hope that the little tidbit of an idea still inspires me later.

The featured image of this post is a final product of the bottom sketch in the top left image here.

I truly believe ideas can be found everywhere. 

Whenever you watch a movie, read a book, visit a new place, etc. and see something you love, something that draws you in – whether a place, color, person’s movement – that’s inspiration to you and thus something that influences your work, whether you actively recognize it or not at the time.

My solution? When you feel that passionate twinge, make note of it – whether a note on your phone or a physical piece of paper. Connect those ideas and draw patterns from them. The more you know yourself, the more personal work you create and personal work draws others in. Who knows, maybe your work will become a line in someone else’s idea journal.

Do you keep an idea journal? What do you do when you’re struck with a creative thought at just the wrong time? Let me know in a comment below.

~ Jennifer Nichole Wells

“In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive.”

 – Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland


  • The Woodland project is well on its way. I’ve been ready to shoot it for quite some time now, I’ve just been waiting for the day when free time and nice weather happen to coincide. According to the weather report, it seems like this Saturday morning, the 22nd will be my day.
    • After it’s shot and edited the images will be passed onto Daniel.
      • Once I have his words, the finished product will be the framed elements (you’ll see what I mean when the time comes).
      • I’ll also have a “making of” Blurb mobile book available (completely free, you can just view it online) if you are interested in a behind the scenes look.
  • The Stress series is currently developing. I need to:
    • Reprint my color separations for the portrait on smoother transparencies.
    • Print the 4-color prints of the portrait.
    • Set up the scene and take the digital images of the bloody crime scene.
    • Create a giant case file, portrait, crime scene photos, bio, write up and all (this will definitely be a mixed media project, should be pretty exciting).
  • The collaborative project is in the works as well, but I don’t have too many updates for you at this time.

I have to say, that I think 3 projects at a time is more than enough. Also, keep in mind that any titles used are simply working titles and may not match the titles assigned to each series once they are complete.