Left: Some Stonehenge Journals with altered covers stand behind "fresh" wirebound journals. I'll be using the 6 x 12 inch blue journal at the back for my 2012 fake journal. Read below for details. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Because I make my own journals for my daily use I like to select commercially bound journals for use during International Fake Journal Month. This helps me distance myself from the "character" who is keeping the journal.
This year I started testing a couple types of paper and a couple commercially bound journals, but I wasn't finding anything that I liked. On a whim I took a 7 x 7 inch Stonehenge journal off my shelf and started playing with inks on the last page. I knew that my character would be taking walks so I wanted something portable. I thought that there might be a lot of architecture in the journal because I'd like to sketch more scenes and buildings. Suddenly I realized my character would be at the same place everyday and I would need a larger book than the 7 x 7 inch book. The "end" of the month flashed in my brain. I started to back off of the idea.
My reluctance came from the rather somber nature of the concept. For me IFJM was always about looking into the dark side of things, exploring my somber side. But when I went public on the internet with IFJM in 2009 I found that my projects, while still a bit on the dark side (there always seems to be some death or injury), were in many ways upbeat (at least in certain aspects).
Well the last 18 months I have found a tendency in my regular journal work to become more and more personal. I show less of it to others. I select portions I take to classes for student viewing more carefully. I'm moving into a more private mode, which is a typical cycle for me.
I realized that the IFJM idea I had "settled" upon was not something I could share publicly. I also decided it wasn't an idea I wanted to work on at the present time. I believe that character has a lot to teach me, but not now.
So instead this year I'm going to take a bit more playful approach. Currently I am thinking that there will be a recurring motif about a certain someone in my fake journal: his name is Frank. You'll meet him soon enough if I go that way. I'll include illustrations and a bit of text each day. As usual I'll begin in medias res.
In order to work in this journal I will be creating a backstory from which to work, but I won't be supplying any backstory when I post the images. I am considering holding a contest for readers to suggest a backstory and then printing both of them after IFJM. I'm still thinking about the contests.
You get the idea, there is a lot up in the air about IFJM this year. That's another reason I wanted to be a little bit more playful this year.
I'm focusing this year on making changes to the public face of IFJM so that it runs with less administration time for me. If I'm successful at my attempts it means that next year I can go back to my more somber and challenging ideas because I'll have more time to explore them.
Immediate Changes To the Organization of IFJM
This year, instead of asking everyone to send jpgs for me to post here, or to have people send me links to "x-number" of posts on their own blogs so that they can be eligible for a prize drawing, I will be asking that everyone post his or her own images on a blog or website for which a link can be provided.
As soon as a participant has posted 5 pages and sent me a link I'll go and check out their posts at that time. The link will then be placed in the link list of 2012 participants in the right column of this blog. The introductory material on the blog will direct readers to that list. Whatever shape the contest takes this year, the winner will come from that list.
This will immediately free up more time for me to make and scan my own work. And I won't have to keep track of links and addresses and such.
Watch for additional changes as they are finalized.
In the meantime, I hope you are selecting paper that you will enjoy working on for a month, ditto media!
Take a moment to read past posts about preparing for IFJM by scanning the category cloud.
It is most important to spend a little bit of time thinking about who your character is. He or she will be writing your journal in the first person, a little bit each day (ideally) or a little bit several times a week, during April 2012. You want to be sure that he or she is someone with whom you can live and grow.
To test your idea you might want to write a brief background of your character. This isn't part of your journal because it isn't written in the first person. It's just a little examination of who your character is, what she or he might want. What goals does your character have? What occupation? What quirks? How will you be able to pull off writing and sketching from the perspective of that person? Will you have to do some research? Will you be interviewing someone who has that job? Do you have the time, each day in April, to make progress in your project, in a meaningful and significant way? Which is more important to you—experimenting with a visual style or with the text? How does the project further your current art goals? How can you tweak the project so that it better supports your current art goals or personal goals?
Keep in mind that it is perfectly suitable to keep an IFJM journal with no text at all, and no explanation. Only YOU need to know what is going on and what will be a consistent action (and art action) on the part of your character. You do not need to explain anything to anyone! (I do recommend that at the end of the month you write a background note and paste it into the back of your fake journal so that 10 years from now you can remind yourself what the perspective of your character was—even who she or he was.)
So now it's time to do some serious thought for your project. Don't sweat it, just sit down and think about it, start taking some notes, let it grow. If you find an idea that appeals to you let it sit in your brain for a couple days and ask yourself "when during MY day would I be able to write from this character's perspective?" The answers may surprise you. If after two or three days you find the idea begins to lose its shine, go back to the drawing board for a new concept.
While I know that I'll be working in the thin, blue-covered book shown above, I'm not sure yet that my final idea has fully gelled. I have a couple weeks to let it percolate.
I hope you'll all consider joining me this year with your own fake journal. I look forward to seeing them.
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