Welcome to International Fake Journal Month 2013!

What is IFJM?
Please read the page "What Is IFJM" for details.
Learn the difference between Faux, Fake, and Fake Historical Journals.

Contests for 2013
See the right-hand sidebar for links to details on the 2013 Contests OR click here.

Participants who Post Their Journals
A list of 2013 participants who are posting their fake journals this year appears near the top of the right side bar of this blog. Lists of participants who posted their pages in 2010, 2011, and 2012 lower in the same column. Please pay them a visit and check out their fake journals.

View a Couple of Roz's Past Fake Journals
Roz's 2009 fake journal takes place in an alternate Twin Cites, where disease has killed the human and bird populations. (It ends up being an upbeat tale of friendship.) Watch a video flip through of Roz's 2009 fake journal here.

Read an explanation of Roz's insanely complex 2011 fake journal.

Tips on Keeping a Fake Journal
Click on "tips" in the category cloud.

Remember, "Life's so short, why live only one?"


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Midpoint in 2014 International Fake Journal Month

Above: My April 13 entry in my 2014 IFJM Journal. 30 x 22 inch mystery printmaking paper, with acrylic inks used with a brush. Rubberstamped date. That's Beverly my giant plastic toad, who made his/her drawing debut in my fake journal this year. (My character shares my love for large toys.) Click on the image to view an enlargement. 

Yep, it's the 15th. So if you're in the U.S. you've paid your taxes by today. It's also the halfway point in International Fake Journal Month. If you've been making an entry each day then by the end of today you'll have 15 entries. That's fantastic. Now it's just a matter of putting in the same amount of time for the rest of the month and you're home free—no more "hiddens," you know what to expect.

Sure it's not that easy when you start a project or you try to form a new habit. Now might be exactly the time that you take a deep breath to relax only to find life throws you a curve ball and leaves you with less "free" time for the rest of the month.

You need to remember two things.

1. Don't take it personally.

2. You were able to find time for 15 days you can find time for another 15 days. It's worth it, your project is worth it. So just wake up each morning willing to put in the time.

And these things are true even if your project is nothing like what you'd hoped it would be.

To date my project has taken some interesting twists and turns. I started the project knowing I wanted to sketch a lot of people and that most of them would be from life, local friends. But I also asked for readers to send me selfies. Thank you, thank you to all the readers who did that because I never knew when I started this project that I would come down with a cold that turned to bronchitis and be two weeks into this project without seeing a living soul but Dick and two friends who whizzed through so quickly there was no time to sketch.

Having the selfies has allowed me to keep sketching and keep up with the project. My character still sketches the faces for the same reason, but now I can actually still do it.

Another curve ball my health has thrown me is that the black Pentel Brush Pens I've been using for the project are the squeezable, fugitive dye-based ink type with a nice fine (and sometimes extra thick) brush tip. Well on the 12th I realized that squeezing the pens was undoing all the therapy I'd been doing with my right hand, elbow, and shoulder. Drat.

That means I've ratcheted way back on use of those pens for now. I have been using the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, which simply flows (you don't squeeze it) but the paper soaks up the ink so quickly that I don't like the line I get with it and have to go over lines sometimes. A bit annoying, but still, I'm getting the project done aren't I? So I'm happy.

And I've always got a regular brush and acrylic inks as a way to sketch (as in the image shown today) so it's all good.

In other words, even though things aren't what I've hoped for I've been able to adapt and keep going.

If you're reading this now and are participating this month that's what I hope you're doing—finding ways to adapt and keep going. That's the essence of creativity.

Take a moment to think about your character and how your character would react to these influences. And also take a moment to pat yourself on the back for making it this far.

Ask yourself what it is that you would still like to get out of the project and see if you can't arrange things to make that happen! You've put in so much effort up to this point now is the time to pull out all the stops.

Keep going.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

One Third of the Way through International Fake Journal Month 2014

Left: A photo of one of my first 10 pages of my 2014 fake journal. I haven't come up with a good way to "shoot" them during April, but I wanted to give you an idea of what I'm doing. The only way I could think to do that was to include my toes for reference. (I wear a ladies size 6.5 shoe.) The paper is about 22 x 30 inches. The bird's head is larger than my head. Brush pen with rubberstamp ink for color—since the paper won't take wet media. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

We are officially past the one-third mark (day 10 of a 30-day month). If you started on April first and have been able to work each day you'll now have at least ten entries.

Congratulations for making it this far.

If you haven't already started and still want to join in, dive right in because 20 days remain and you can get a lot of work accomplished in 20 days.

If you've been working right along now is the time to take a moment to look at your past pages and ask yourself a couple questions:

1. Am I staying consistent with my character? If not how can I fix this? Is there a time of day that's easier for me to get into character? If so make a conscious plan to work during that time each day.

2. Do I see changes that would be great to explore even though they depart from my original plan? If so, think about the impact they will have on your plan and make a conscious effort to embrace the changes if you think it's a good direction to go.

3. What difficulties are you encountering? These can be character problems or time management or media issues. Pinpoint what they are. Brainstorm some ideas on how to deal with them for the rest of the month.

4. Congratulate yourself for making it this far, even if you have missed a couple days. Now keep going.

A Bit About My Progress
My main obstacle this year has been a spring cold which turned into bronchitis. I'm finding it difficult to do some of the experimental work I'd hoped to achieve because I've been relying on my inhaler rather heavily—and my inhaler makes my hand shaky.

I'm enjoying what I'm doing while at the same time I know I have to push myself some more. And I'm also seeing how difficult it is for me to not explain things. My whole life is tied up in explanations—to teach, to write, to interact with people—and it's difficult to shed that behavior. We'll see what happens.

The 2014 Participants List Is Up
If you have been watching the blog you'll see that I'm starting to get the participants listed in the column to the right. Each participant's name is linked to the dedicated fake journal blog or Flickr site they are using.

If they are posting on their regular blog the link goes to the first post for IFJM 2014 and it's my hope they've indexed their entries well enough that you can find your way around.

If you've got 8 entries in your journal by now and are publicly posting send me such a link and I'll add you to the list. (Be patient if nothing goes up for a couple days as I'm not on the computer much right now. Both the real Roz and my character are trying to "rest.")

Check out the other participants' work and be sure to leave them some comments and encouragement.

Now get busy on your fake journal!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

2014 International Fake Journal Project Participants—Public and Private

Public Participation
If you are participating in this year's celebration and you are posting your pages publicly on either a blog dedicated to IFJM related posts or an album on Flickr or some other public digital venue I'm not already savvy you can appear in the 2014 IFJM Participants list in the right column of this blog.

There are already names posted there as you can see. (For past years please scroll down to previous lists which are grouped together at the bottom of the column.)

Participants listed already have all participated before.

If you haven't participated before please write to me as soon as you have 8 days of entries completed. Send a link to your blog or Flickr album where you have them grouped. The email should come to me at rozjournalrat@gmail.com and the subject line should read "Participants List."

I'll check the link out and add you to the list.

The delay for new participants is simply so that there will be something there for visitors to look at. I try to do as little housekeeping as possible for this project so that I too have time to participate.  If someone falls off the project after 3 days or so I might not find out until a long time later. A week of participation is still long enough to even generate a wrap up. (Keep that in mind if you aren't up for a 30-day trial period. Maybe doing a two- or one-week project is what would best suit you. It's a great way to start.)

If you are sending me a link to a post about your first entry to IFJM 2014 on your regular blog be sure that your blog post for that entry includes some sort of wording and tagging along these lines:

This is the first entry in my 2014 International Fake Journal Month Journal. Each day in April I'll be adding a new entry. You can view all my journal entries on this blog as I post them by using this blog's search engine and searching for IFJM [or Fake, or whatever you're indexing it under] or go to the category cloud and click on "KEY WORD YOU'RE USING FOR TAGGING."

You can create an end paragraph to your initial post that explains how people can find your future posts without sifting through the rest of your blog posts.

If you don't include a statement like that in your post past experience shows that people don't return to see the rest of your pages because they can't find them. And if you send me a link and I can't find them I can't assume others will be able to and I won't add it to the list.

We're only 6 days in and if you haven't started your project there is still plenty of time to do so. And there's plenty of time to be added to the list. Based on my guidelines above for 8 days of entries you have until April 23 to start and complete 8 days. If you contact me in the first few days of May when you get your items scanned or photographed I'll add you to the list. People return to the blog throughout the year to look at participants so it's a good thing to get added.

At the end of April I'll start asking participants to do a write up about how the project went for them. Past participants have found this helpful to understand what value they derived from the project and how to plan future such projects. It's also helpful to others who are just reading about the project. There is no obligation to provide a public wrap up write up about the project. In fact if the project becomes emotional or difficult in a variety of ways you might not want to discuss it publicly. But if you do complete a wrap-up post I ask that you send those links in to me at the beginning of May. Sometime around May 10 I post about them and list links to the wrap ups in a single post.

Private Participation
I've written before that IFJM is something you can do on your own and keep private. I encourage that. If at the completion of your project, however, you would like to participate in the wrap up please feel free to do so. I would ask that you send a jpg of one of your pages to accompanying your link in the wrap up post, so people have a sense of what you were doing.

That's all for today. I have to switch gears now and turn out today's page! I hope you're having a great month. I have already found out some fun things I hope to share with you at the end of the week when I have a moment to scan or shoot these massively oversized pages.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Explanations in a Month of No Explanations—A Little Bit about How I Settled on Materials and Approach in 2014

Above: 22 x 30 inch sheet of mystery paper with a variety of tests on it. Far left brush pen with light gouache washes; top, acrylic ink and acrylic heavy body paint; center brush pen; bottom center various ink pens (all bleed THROUGH); far right Montana Marker sketch and background. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Even though this year's theme is "No Explanations" I feel as founder and organizer of International Fake Journal Month I really need to write a little bit each year about my process—the selection of materials, the definition of a character, my goals. I do this so that people new to the process can see an example of how they might proceed and avoid some hassles and pitfalls. As I write in my posts covering tips on all these topics, there is always more than one way to do each of these things. My hope is that as you read about my process something might click in your brain and your own process will take off.

That said I want to share this year's round about approach to my fake journal. Typically I'll think of a character, or I will decide on the media I want to use and then select an appropriate journal to work in with that media. Either the character or the media will start to inform me as to the why, the more I think about them both. (And I try to do a little thinking about the project every week in March.)

This year my fake journal "plans" came about because I couldn't walk past a paper deal—250 sheets of mystery paper from the Magnani Mill for $50. (And no, there isn't any more of this paper which didn't even have a name.)

I wasn't looking for a paper deal. I was just at my favorite art supply store (Wet Paint in St. Paul) and I asked if there was anything interesting in the papers because I had been unable to visit the store much since the beginning of 2014—I had been shooting and editing videos for my online class in Semester One at Sketchbook Skool (which starts today by the way if you haven't heard about this before—six weeks, six teachers, all for $99).

When I asked to see different papers I was hoping to find a great paper for my in-person classes—something that will take mixed media but be inexpensive so that the students can make a good-sized book without paying too much for class supplies. (I like to introduce a good but inexpensive option in class and then provide information for other paper choices for when students make their next book.)

Left: The ink tests and first face sketch. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I was shown a sheet of this mystery paper that was sent by mistake and now being sold at a discount. Nothing was known about the paper, but when I touched it it seemed obvious to me that it had some good qualities, and that it was a heavyweight printmaking paper. I asked if I could test one of the sheets and went home with the top scuffed sheet (red pencil marks already on it) to do so.

I immediately tested a bunch of pens and was disappointed to see that all of them bled through the paper in varying degrees. This meant the paper wasn't suitable (even if it tore and folded well) for a class on making a mixed media journal, or even an ink-only journal). I like to get students to use a variety of media so this was out.

But something in the way the paper took the brush pen made me think, I can still use this paper for sketching. I did the math and realized that for 20 cents a sheet I couldn't find a paper of this quality and size for sketching, even if I just used it all up in life drawing it was a great bargain.

The pen drags on this paper and the paper soaks up a bit much of the ink as you move along—I actually have to sketch more slowly or the brush gets too dry to continue and I outrun the ink flow. But it felt good on the paper and I liked the quality of the lines.

Next I used washes on the portrait—wet and dry-ish washes of gouache—just to see how the paper holds up.

Left: Back of the sheet, showing the extreme buckling of the sheet when painted upon, as wells as various levels of ink bleeding through. I also did some ink marks on this side of the sheet to determine if it had a better surface on one side or the other. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Not well at all as evidenced by the back of the sheet.

I knew I couldn't use the paper for a class, but I had been thinking about working large for IFJM 2014. I asked myself if I could work all month without color. (I hadn't been able to work much in color for the past 3 months as excessive computer work worsened my shoulder injury and made holding a brush and dipping a brush into paint or water difficult.)

Left: An "upside down" view of the test sheet. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I decided that it would be fun to do one large 22 x 30 inch journal sheet a day in April even if I could only work in black ink. (I've since found that working with Montana Markers in limited areas doesn't cause the paper to deform much at all, and I also have stamp ink and collage papers I can use for color.)

That would leave me with 218 sheets (after another test sheet with markers and such) after IFJM 2014 ended and that would all be good paper for life drawing. So I called Wet Paint up and bought the paper.

And that's why I'm sitting here writing about how I'm doing a fake journal on loose sheets that are 22 x 30 inches and impossible to scan (there's a curved edge all round).

Left: Close up view of the finch at the "bottom" of one of the long sides of the sheet. I sketched with a brush using orange acrylic ink and then used some very dry brush heavy bodied acrylics—violet. I wanted to see if the acrylic ink and paint deformed the paper as much as the larger amounts of water used in the gouache. It didn't, but it deformed it enough that I didn't want to use it all month. I did decide that if I wanted to do paintings on this paper after the 2014 IFJM I could always gesso the paper and then paint on that. For 20 cents a sheet there's a lot I can do with this paper. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to post these journal pages yet. I'm thinking of how to set up a really large copy stand. I may just make a video with me flipping through them because when you look at the photos I've taken so far (3 days into IFJM) the images don't look BIG when presented digitally full frame, without a frame of reference!

We'll see. For now I'm just concentrating on getting through the month—which brings me to my second bit of explanation, now that you know the surface and materials I'm using…

Left: My second test sheet was made on March 31. I was anxious to find some way to bring color to the project and also trying to decide how my character might write on the pages. This meant I needed to experiment with the different pens and inks I had. Also, because my test sketches proved to me that the paper really sucked the ink out of my brush pens I tested working with black acrylic ink and a Sumi brush—however while that would work for quick scribbled text I found the brush too floppy and broad for sketching details (face in the center) and abandoned it immediately. I still may use a brush of some sort and bottled ink, we'll see as the project goes along. For now I've got more brush pens on hold for when I'm well enough to drive over and fetch them. I have a couple here that should last long enough. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I made a foolish slip on Tuesday, I mentioned something key about my REAL life on my first journal page. Normally this isn't a big deal because you expect that there can be some overlap. For instance, I'm not trying to work in a different style, my goal for IFJM 2014 is very simple—work large, don't worry about any sort of narrative—just record whatever happens or is thought about in the few minutes I have to work;  and because of the paper, work mostly in black and white. I also wanted to think more about composition this month and was actually reading a book by a Disney instructor, it's in the other room I'll get that reference some other time, it's doesn't really matter because my desire to read one of its 32 chapters a day for April came to nothing because I caught a cold.

That's right, a lousy, crummy, crappy spring cold. And that's what I mentioned the first day on the first page.

It's a "mistake" in my mind to do that because the journal has the potential then be all about the cold and more about me than I want—because I want to distance myself from the chararcter. Also some of the things I thought the character might do during the month are now totally off the table because she can't go out and about and people aren't likely to visit her and be exposed to her germs.

So I dug myself a bit of a hole.

And I pouted, until I realized that there were new episodes of "George Gently" available on Acorn TV. Now that's cheering. (If you aren't aware of my TV viewing habits go here.)

I also knew that I've dug myself out of worse holes in the past and will continue to do so. But I mention it now so that you might be prevented from making the same mistake.

In the first few days of IFJM as your character starts to speak to you just pause for a moment and make sure that you're listening to your character and not some snotty, snippy version of yourself. Is what you're about to write down on the page really from your character? Or is it from you, you with a cold, or you upset over something that happened that day at work, or you miffed about something your significant other said at breakfast? (That never happens right? I don't eat breakfast with Dick so I wouldn't know.)

My advice to you is just pause for a moment and think, if he/she says that then what does that mean? And just sit there for 5 minutes and think it through. What does it mean for the next 30 days?

Now sometimes what happens is we realize that the project we were all set to do is not actually the project that NEEDS to be done, and we are happily off and running in a new direction.

Or we may realize we have to shift our plans slightly.

Or we realize it has no impact at all.

But don't let a momentary lapse of concentration put you into a deep hole, unless of course you relish that sort of thing. (I think I must.)

Keep focused on the goals you stated to yourself before you started the project (goals about which media you wanted to use, or style you wanted to work in, or what you wanted your character to explore). Then if something comes up that pushes you away from those goals take a moment and think through whether that's a good thing or not. If not don't be pushed; if it is go ahead.

So there you have a little background about my project this year, if somewhat filtered through my cold-addled head. As usual I'll post again off and on through the month and at the end of the month I'll post a wrap up. (And if I haven't been posting these oversized journal pages by then I'll find some way to film them.)

Additional Notes on IFJM 2014


No More Selfies Needed
Thank you to everyone who sent in images for me to use as reference photos for my project. I have enough images, and live folks, to sketch from so please don't send any more images. Thank you for making the effort. Folks who sent in selfies really did a great job.

Signing Up on the Participants List
If you are publicly posting your pages on a dedicated blog (or on your main blog with tagging or some other convention so it's easily separated and spotted by a visitor) or your Flickr page please send me a link when you have 8 entries and I'll add you to this year's participants list which will be in the side column of the blog. The wait for 8 pages is so that there is something there for visitors to view. If you've participated before in IFJM you can write to me right away as I know you've been through the project and will keep at it and already have a posting regime set up. (Remind me in your email when you send a link, which year, or  years, you participated in. I know I've corresponded with many of you a lot over the years but sometimes I don't recognize the names.)

I hope everything is going well with all of you and that you are two (or three if you've had time to work on it today) entries into your journal. Keep it up. Keep focusing on your goal.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Using Your Fake Journal to Fight Creative Blocks

I've been getting a lot of private notes recently from people who are interested in using IFJM as a tool to fight creative blocks. The blocks all vary and are individually tailored (of course, that's how it works), but several are "blocks to keeping a journal." And keeping a fake journal can be used to clear that block in a variety of ways. I wrote about a few of those ways in a note on my other blog to a reader who asked about this publicly on Roz Wound Up, and I think my note might be useful to some folks reading this blog.

Keep in mind that in order to get your April experience going you will need to do a little bit of work in the next couple of days to prepare—you'll need to sit with your REAL journal and ask yourself a few questions so that you can avoid the same issues in your fake set up.

Here's my advice:
IFJM can be a great tool for fighting blockage, for really looking at the cause and finding ways to work around it in your life. 
Be sure to find a way to really limit the time involvement you require each day for your fake journal so that working in the journal doesn't become yet another instigator of blockage, e.g., "I don't have time for the fake journal I really have to do such and such." 
Find something that you can do in 15 minutes or less. 
Think about a character who always puts art or observation first. Imagine what it's like to have a regular appointment for that 15 minutes, or set up situations for the month where you will have outings or instances where you will have 15 minutes at odd times to sketch and journal. 
I would also suggest you keep you supplies to a minimum so you aren't side-tracked with thinking "which medium will I use today?"—picking one medium to use for the whole month and to explore with is something totally doable in 15 minutes a day. 
Also think of what it is you want to say and do in your REAL journal and then ask yourself why you don't do that. (This is best done before IFJM begins. Set an appointment to write, or also do it in small bursts of time as thoughts come to you during the day—just write down what pops into your head and look at it all at the end of the day.) 
Next think about a character who 1. either doesn't want to do those things in his/her journal so you'll do the exact opposite of what YOU would do during the month in his or her journal, or 2. someone who does those things and what does that person's life look like? All of that will help you get into the character for 15 minutes a day. 
And lastly realize that your character is going to have a totally different dialogue with his/her internal critic because he/she isn't blocked. What is that dialog like? That character won't write or journal about that because it is just a fact of life, so you might, when you think of this (maybe before you go to bed at night) take a few minutes to write in your REAL journal about that.  

Remember habit building happens in 28 days. It's more important to get something done in the habit building time than to create something great! First you have to get the habit in place. That's another reason IFJM and fake journals are a good way to start a journaling habit—because you are doing something daily for 30 days. (Remember you don't run a record marathon your first day of training, you may only run around the block. If you're using IFJM to break a creative block on journaling focus on running around the block each day, the rest will come later after you have the habit.)

Also keep in mind that life happens. If you're using IFJM to combat a tendency not to journal and already have a habit of avoiding or putting off journaling when life happens you'll need to work harder to avoid that habit during IFJM and find ways to meet that 15 minutes a day you've set for yourself. That will be difficult for most people in this situation.

And it will feel UNCOMFORTABLE, because breaking a habit (here the habit of avoidance) is an uncomfortable process. Habits (either good or bad) feel good and comfortable to our minds and our bodies because they are habits (ask anyone who's ever tried to change his life in the smallest way). But if we persevere in the breaking of bad habits, by creating new habits, we have much to gain. It's worth a bit of discomfort.

If your blockage is not about journaling but instead is about using one particular medium or one technique more the equation is a bit simpler—you simply substitute that medium or technique into the time you already spend journaling, just for the month. This doesn't mean you won't do any regular journaling, but you may find you do less of that in April. Any habit change is going to take some accommodation and adjustment in the rest of our life.

Again, it might feel uncomfortable to use the different medium you elect to stick with, or it might be difficult to start at the beginning with a new technique. You are still breaking out of your comfort zone and your internal critic is going to jump out and let you have it.

All your character latitude to deal with the internal critic in his or her own way—you might learn some new techniques you can bring back to your real life.

Remember too to be kind to yourself. If you miss a day don't beat yourself up. Just make sure you work first thing the next morning, or set a watch alarm for a time later in the day and keep that appointment regardless of how you feel at the time. It's "just do it" time. Get into your character's mode. Remember too that your character doesn't have blockage, doesn't have a reason to stop so you can be assured that the next day he/she won't even see today's miss as a blip on the grand continuum of life. That's where you want to put your focus too, on that continuum.

One more thing. However wonderful it may be to share your work with others as you go through this journey, and however much you count on people's support when you share your work, if you are working on a block of any sort it may be best not to share your work during April.

I tell my journaling students this about their regular journaling work all the time when I have multi-session classes where we work on good journaling habits. It's fine to share work within the confines of the class where everyone is working on the same plan and developing good boundaries, positive "critique" methods, and understands what the goals are. But in the general world, and even in your own family there will be people who just don't "get" what you're up to.

Would you rather spend all of April not just explaining to those people that you want to journal more and why that is, but why you're using IFJM to find a way to do it? Or would you rather get down and busy at actually changing something?

Why risk a stray comment from someone who actually might even mean well—a comment which could derail you?

If it's time to do serious work and you don't already have good boundaries and techniques for dealing with your internal critic the best time to share your fake journal is in MAY,  AFTER IFJM is over.

Why? Because then no comments can derail you. You're already finished with the project. And you hold it in your hand. You know exactly what it took for you to do it. You may never be able to explain to anyone what it took, or how you even did it, but you don't have to. You just need to know that you did it. And that's the gift you give yourself for getting through the month.

Besides, this year it's "NO Explanations" remember?!

So think about those considerations to as you set up your plan for IFJM 2014. Good luck.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

An Interview about International Fake Journal Month

Ricë Freeman-Zachery has written a marvelous post:  "What Exactly is International Fake Journal Month, Anyway?" over at "create mixed media."

If this is your first visit to this blog, or your first year to attempt keeping a fake journal, go check it out. She asked questions about how I got into fake journaling, how I made it into a celebration, and she also writes about some of the particulars for participating.

It's a wonderful introduction to IFJM and I couldn't be happier to see the word being spread so clearly and thoroughly. (This is the first post in a series so be sure to check back at "create mixed media" which of course you're doing anyway because Ricë writes about creativity and interviews artists there all the time—getting them to talk about their process so you can be inspired.)

And in the meantime, don't forget my last post here—I still need some selfies for sketching reference for my 2014 fake journal. How you can help is all listed here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Help Me with My 2014 International Fake Journal Month Project

I have posted here and on Roz Wound Up about this call for help with my 2014 IFJM project. Please read the details listed below. I hope that you'll be able to join in and help me.

That's right, I need help with my 2014 International Fake Journal Month project.

UPDATE: 04.03.14—as of today I have more than enough selfies and live models to complete the project so please don't spend time sending me a photo. You can of course read this post and see what I'm referring to. Thanks to everyone who sent in selfies!


In spite of a heavy work load, pressing family commitments, and some work-related travel, I've decided to go ahead with my 2014 fake journal when April 1 rolls around.

However, I've had to think hard about making the project manageable.

It remains to be seen if I've been entirely successful in that regard.

One thing I know is that I want to sketch a lot of portraits as part of this project, and while there are some patient sorts living in the Cities who'll probably agree to sit for me there are going to be a lot of days when I am going to be without a model.

If you would like to help me with my 2014 IFJM project I need you to email me a selfie-jpg from which I can sketch. And the sooner the better so I have options right away on April 1.

Conditions of the Project
1. By sending me your photo you're acknowledging that you own the copyright to the photo. (Please do not send portrait studio photos, the copyright of which is owned by the photographer.)

2. If you send photos taken by another family member (not strictly a selfie, but maybe you couldn't get the angle you wanted), you're acknowledging that it's provided to me as drawing reference with the agreement of the photographer who understands item 3 under "Conditions."

3. By sending the image you're agreeing to allow me to use it anyway I want, and do whatever I want with the resultant artwork. (I don't know what I may do with them beyond posting them on my IFJM blog—use them as illustrations, prints, or do nothing with them. But I will own clear copyright to the originals.)

4. You understand that the resultant drawing may look absolutely nothing like you.

5. I will not do anything pornographic with your image. Your name will not appear anywhere in the artwork.

6. Your head may be placed on a body totally unrecognizable in this universe.

7. There may be text next to my sketch from your image representing my "character's" journaling. This text may contain profanity or whatever nonsense comes out of the character's mind. It will have nothing to do with you; and you'll have no input other than supplying the photo.

What to Send
1. A photographic (no illustrations, collages, or digital renderings) image of you created as a selfie or shot for you by someone as stated in item 2 under "Conditions of the Project" above. The image can be either black and white or color.

2. The photo should not be altered in any way—e.g. don't apply filters to stretch, distort, posterize, or otherwise manipulate the image.

3. The focus of the photograph should be your head, ideally with some neck a little bit of your shoulders—but the main focus of the image should be your face and its expression.

4. The email accompanying the jpg should state that
"I agree to the conditions of the project set forth in the March 23, 2014 post on Roz Wound Up about Roz Stendahl's 2014 IFJM Project. I'm providing the the attached photo for use in that project and have the right to do so. She will own copyright to the artwork she creates from my photo."
5. Your email should end with your complete name for my record keeping process. (If your photo is used during April you'll be contacted for a postal address.)

6. Address the email to me at Rozjournalrat@gmail.com, with the subject line: IMAGE FOR 2014 IFJM

7. The JPG's FILE NAME must be YOUR NAME, to help me with record keeping and contacting you. 

8. Ideally the image you send will be as high res as possible, so that I can blow it up and use it for drawing reference. The following are guidelines:
8.5 x 11 inches
2520 x 3281 pixels
300 dpi
A jpg of that size, saved as a medium to high quality jpg would result in a file that is around 5.8 MB. If your internet connection has trouble with files of that size you can save it at lesser quality or a smaller file size, but the above is optimum.

9. Portraits with unusual facial expressions will be more likely to be selected. Show happiness (with laughter or a broad or goofy smile), anger, fear, concern, compassion, surprise, etc.—Ham it up!

10. Use any sort of lighting you want to cast dramatic shadows or not. Play with the angle you shoot at so that I have to worry about things like foreshortening.

11. While a marvelously creative expression will cause me to select a portrait shot straight-on full-face, keep in mind it's more interesting to me to sketch a three-quarter view where the face is turned slightly to one side, with both eyes still visible.

12. To confuse matters even more, know that I love to sketch profiles too.

13. People with interesting ears, noses, and hairdos have a greater chance of being selected.

14. I tend to prefer drawing people without eye glasses. If you meet the criteria in item 9 I'll perhaps overlook the fact you're wearing glasses and select your photo for a reference. If you have a particularly interesting facial expression I probably will also overlook the glasses. You could also just take the selfie without your glasses on.

15. Don't wear a hat.

16. Photos can be sent to me until April 30, 2014,but obviously the earlier you send a photo the higher the likelihood it will be used. My final day of sketching will be April 30, 2014.

What You'll Get if I Use Your Photo
1. An archival print of the finished art (on 8.5 x 11 inch paper) will be sent to you in via U.S. mail as my thank you. (I'll email everyone involved at the end of the month to ask for postal addresses.)

2. The original artwork for these portraits will probably be large. They will have to be shot not scanned. This will take some time to arrange, so prints will not be available until the end of May 2014 or perhaps later. (if your image was used in the project you'll be sent an email with an expected schedule at the end of April when my sketching project has ended.)

Thank You
I hope you'll take a moment to help me out. I think that this year's IFJM project will either drive me crazy or save my sanity. You can be a part of that! I look forward to seeing your selfies!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Who’s My Character? Why Does My Character Journal?

I received a note from Dana the other day. I’d been working on this post for next week so I’m posting it now. If you’re asking these questions you can take steps to find the answers during your free time this weekend.

Some people wonder how to even get started in a fake journal. Some people wonder if they need to start journaling and a character will emerge. That’s certainly possible. But here are a couple steps to take to discover more about your character.

Sit in a quiet room and think about why YOU journal. Is there something you would like to change about the process? Is there something that you think you would like more of in your journal. Make a list of everything that comes up.

Approach 1.

Ask yourself how you would have to be different to allow those changes or approaches to be possible. For instance if you are someone who always dates your entries and explains everything (and remember this is the year to focus on no explanations) how would it be to let go of that? What type of person can  you envision who wouldn’t care about such things? What would that person do during the day? Why doesn’t that person care about explanations? What does that say about his character traits? (I’m going to use “him” from now on to avoid grammatical gaffs.)

As you ask these questions write down whatever comes up and then when things aren’t popping into your head stop and look over what you have written down.

Are there character traits that are interesting for you to explore? Do you think you would enjoy working with them and what they would produce for a month? Is there something to be learned there?

If yes then start writing a background on your character, noting down anything that comes to mind: You can start with physical characteristics but it’s most important that you capture details about his character and his actions and his experiences in life. How many siblings does he have? Their names? Ages? Are his parents alive? Their names and what they did for a living.

Keep going and ask questions. At some point you will see a path to who that character is and why he keeps the journal he does and you’ll know you’re all set to jump in.

If, on the other hand you found you answered NO it won’t be enjoyable to work with that character for a month and there’s nothing to be learned again, then start the process again. Note different characteristics and some of the same ones and see what comes to mind.

Don’t fret that you’re spending some time brainstorming on this because now is the time to spend a little time exploring who you’ll be, before you get part way through the month and find it unbearable. Time spent now will ensure that you only spend 15 to 20 minutes a day on a doable project. (You can spend longer, but if you’re having difficulty getting a character don’t stress yourself with additional burdens of hoping to create 2-hour art pieces each day.)

Approach 2 

You still start in a quiet room and make that list. But now ask yourself a couple other questions: what media would I like to use? What subject would I like to draw the most? (For me in 2009 it was birds and when I asked who would draw all those birds my character jumped immediately into my brain.)

Maybe you want to work on not laboring over your drawings. (You define laboring.) Then pick a medium that isn’t time intensive.

Maybe there is a particular tool you want to try using.

After you have your list look at it and ask yourself honestly, how much time to I have to spend each day in April on this? Now with that knowledge which of these media and themes or subject matter will work? Aim towards something that simply requires you to be where you would be anyway and pick up your journal, sketch (in character making a comment or two in character), and then put the book down and move on with your life.

Once you have those details clear ask yourself: What type of person would keep a journal like that?

Following Up on Either Approach

Then get up and walk away and do 10,000 other things all day tomorrow. Keep a pad of paper and a pencil handy and if anything at all pops in your mind WRITE IT DOWN. Don’t analyze what it is or if it’s even related to this project, just write it down. It could be a song lyric, or a news item, or an idea for a painting that came to you after hearing a news item. Anything, write it down.

On the following day, when you first get up or have your first free moment, sit down with any lists you made the day before as you did 10,000 other things, and any lists you made the first day. What are the connections between those lists? What pops out at you? What appeals to you.

At any point if a name or an occupation or a location or anything jumps into your mind write it down and sit and think about how it might work for you and where it leads you.

You aren’t planning your month. You’re simply trying to find your character and your medium.

Once the month starts and your character jumps into his journal you’ll have no idea what’s going to come up and that’s great. Just go with it.

For now you are simply trying to get an idea of who your character is and what his past and present might be. And why he journals. Definitely jot that down.

Why? Because throughout April if you know why your character journals you’ll know immediately if you go off track with something he would never include or address—of if you feel pulled to still include such a thing you will know that that thing is telling you something about the character.

At any time in this process if a journal comes across your desk and appeals to you ask if it’s something he would use and if so carry it around for a day and let it fit into your plans. It will probably tell you more about the journal keeper.

Here are Tips To Help You with the Start Up Process



Here is a post to walk you through selecting a journal: International Fake Journal Month Is Only 56 Days Away.

The best tip I can give you, if this is your first IFJM is to keep it as simple as possible. Keep your goals modest. Keep your plans for working every day in the 15-20 minute range. Keep your media simple. Keep your character close to you in that you too will have access to all that he needs access to—coffee shops, sketching locations, subjects to sketch whatever.

Now, if you haven’t read this already, read To Prep or Not to Prep… If you’re struggling with media and which journal, this post shows you how I worked through the process one year, all the parameters I set—including weaning my real self off of sudoku.


Give yourself and your character some options so that on April 1 you can simply take a leap.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Getting Ready for International Fake Journal Month 2014—No Explanations

Left: The logo for International Fake Journal Month shown at the left in this post (and at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.

It's time to start gearing up for the 2014 celebration of International Fake Journal Month.

Of course that means a new logo and a new motto.

The motto for IFJM 2014 is: NO Explanations.

That's right, no explanations.

I've deliberately been a little fuzzy in the logo because I either have a massive migraine or think that this helps communicate the non-communication.

First some sad news. This year there will be no commemorative buttons. The project has simply grown too large for me to send out all the buttons. (The buttons are still affordable it's just the darn postage and the special padded envelopes that are pricey.) But not having buttons doesn't stop us from having fun. You can always printout this image and glue it to foamcore board, trim it and attach a pin back! Bingo, a button.

Now some good news. So many folks are participating it isn't feasible to send out buttons.

And some additional good news. When I selected the motto for 2014 I had in mind setting you all an additional task.

Don't gasp. You can still participate in the way you usually do—whatever has been working for you. But if you want to add another dimension to your participation I'm setting some additional parameters for you—actually in a way they've always been set, I just want you to pay particular attention: No explanations.

That's right. This year when you keep your fake journal I want you to pay particular attention to the "reality" of what your character would or wouldn't know, what he or she would or wouldn't write in his or her journal. I'm encouraging you to take the verisimilitude of your project up a notch.

So for instance if your character is meeting someone or experiencing something for the first time he (or "she" understood for the rest of the post or I'll get bogged down in double typing) would probably note something down about that person or thing. But what exactly would he note down?

He might complain about his job, but would he really go into hyper detail about little indignities he can't forget? Might he not just gloss over such things? Or would he keep a detailed list because he's obsessed with "justice" (and maybe just a little scary).

You'll have to decide how thorough your character is. Some might just note a name of a new person they meet, others might write a phone number and address, or a line or two of text describing the person or the thing they are observing.

That's one level to this: how observant and diligent is your character?

Another level to all this is that I'm encouraging you to have no explanations. JUST DIVE IN and whenever possible check yourself before you explain. Is it that important to your character that he explain something or is it important to YOU. If the latter, then leave it out.

This is another way of distancing yourself from your character. It is also a way of changing your character's mode of interaction with the journal.

And if you can distance yourself from your character, then those of you who like to participate in this event in order to set greater distance between yourself and your internal critic will immediately find a greater safety cushion of distance.

It may feel more uncomfortable because your normal mode of journaling is to explain everything. But for this project's duration stick with it and give it a try and see what benefits you can derive. You may end up with a greater respect for your own ability to detail your life when you're done. Or you may come away freed from the restraints or "work" of explaining everything all the time.

One of the goals of IFJM is to help the participants explore new ways to interact with their journals when the project ends. By setting very specific goals and parameters on your fake journal, that are different from your usual behavior, you'll be able to maximize those results.

Now if this sounds all too complicated or uncomfortable to you, or if you find it goes against your plan (good for you for already having a plan for 2014) for your fake journal, DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT.

Go ahead with your original plan. Just keep your character in mind.

The most important thing is that you participate and explore different ways to interact with your journal.

For some IFJM Participants you've already been exploring the no explanations approach by being extra vigilant about what your character writes down. You've already analyzed you're own journaling process and found yourself hyperdetailed or very non-explaining already. You know your character would never stop in the middle of his fake journal and write introductory paragraphs about his mother because he knows his mother. Nope, not in the journal you're creating. So if he had the need (for whatever reason) to introduce information about his mother you found some sly and realistic way to get it in. Fantastic.

Continue on.

This is something I want you all to think about as April arrives.

I do believe it is important that we all look at how we normally journal, and then distance ourselves from that normal journaling through not only the choice of character (perhaps a different sex, age, city of habitation, occupation, etc.) but in the methods employed by that character to journal. Things that make up that character's voice. His response to his world.

Explore that response; set yourself up to be able to do that. Then sit down every day in April and have some fun.

For now, take some time to select a journal to work in, and spend a little pre-event time with your character so you know what materials he might use in his journal. I'll have more to say about this in March.

I look forward to seeing your fake journals.