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The Journal Diaries- Zel's Fantasy World

The Journal Diaries is a blog segment where we get a sneak peek into the journals, notebooks, organizers and diaries from creatives all over the world. My special guest today is Zel from China.

- Hi Zel! Tell us a little more about yourself!
Hi everybody on Earth! I’m Zel from Guangzhou, China. I’m 28 and currently work as a graphic designer in some company.

- How long have you been art journaling for?
Since 2015, I’ve been journaling for like one year and a half.

- How and when did your love for art journaling all begin?
In recent years, journal has become quite a buzz on social media in China. I got interested about it, then I saw more different types of art journals and sketchbooks on instagram and pinterest, which is an amazing new world for me! So I regarded it as a chance to pick up my pens to draw again (I haven’t drawn since primary school), then I bought my first hobonichi, and started to write and draw about my daily fantasy in it.
- What inspires your creativity the most?
I love reading science fictions, fairytales, mythologies, magazines, books about dinosaurs and other unsolved mysteries since I was a little girl. And my dad used to watch these sci-fi movies with me, like E.T., Star Wars, Signs, etc. He’s like a good buddy to me to explore the world! So I guess this is why I draw so many monsters and weird stuff nowadays. I just have so much curiosity about the cosmos and the unknown that I want to create a world of wonders myself, and invite people to come visit, having a break from their busy reality.
- Would you say that you're consistent with your art journalings?
To be honest, I think I’m not enough consistent with it. I think I just get to know what art journaling is and I’m still figuring out how to do it better in my own way. But for sure it has become one of my favorite art forms to explore!

- Do you feel that your artistic style has changed throughout time?
Yes, I think so. In fact I change a lot and I always want to try more in art. When I was in primary school, I once learned some basic sketch, but after that I never draw again until two years ago. Right now I think I’m just a beginner in art. In this stage I hope I can find out more possibilities in myself. My drawings started with some cartoon and doodle style, and then I tried out a more realistic way to do some fantasy art in my moleskine. Also, I did some handcraft recently to make my paintings become 3D. There’s just endless fun in creating!

- Does your art journal serve as a personal diary as well? Or do you keep a separate diary at all for more personal thoughts?
Currently I’m keeping an illustrated weekly journal in Traveler’s Notebook, which serves as a brief diary too. And yes, I have another diary refill to write down some personal thoughts, random ideas, color experiment, etc (all done in a very casual way). And I have a notebook especially for collecting notes and materials about mythology, folklore, and other mysterious weird stuff. So there are three refills in my TN and I carry them everyday.
- Is there a particular time in the day that you find yourself more creative?
There’re two magical times for me: One is when I’m taking shower! I feel very very relaxed and comfortable, so that I can just close my eyes, listening to the water and imagining myself floating in some other bizarre realm where I can hunt for interesting things. The other time would be when I’m stuck in those boring meetings in my office. I can’t help being absent-minded, and my hands will just keep doodling on paper, freely and mindlessly, which brings me many unexpected ideas for painting! :P

- What type of notebook, journal, or stationery brand do you prefer to use for your art?
I’m now mainly using Traveler’s Notebook for journals, for the paper is of high-quality that holds up to different materials, including watercolor and ink. I’m also using a Moleskine sketchbook, with thicker paper (165g) than its other notebooks. The MUJI recycled paper sketchbook is also one of my favorites that I use a lot for quick sketch and doodle. Besides, I like STAEDTLER’s stationary very much, especially their mechanical pencils, for its simple and comfortable design.

- What are your go-to tools for the majority of your illustrations?
For the illustrations in my TN, I usually use mix-media to achieve a rich and textured effect, including winsor&newton watercolors, CARAN d'ACHE color pencils, poster colors, STAEDTLER fine liners, some craft papers, etc. And for freehand doodles, I love to use my pilot fountain pen, which is newly bought and I just get more and more addicted to.

- Are there any craft or art supply stores that you favor?
There are only a few of such stores here in Guangzhou. One is Baihua Art Supply store where I can get some basic art supplies, the other is fangsuo bookstore where I can find some stationery.
- Favorite color?
I love all the colors but recently I just find myself using blue and green a lot! Haha, maybe it’s because of the hot summer! :D

- What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Well…For the people who know about my paintings, they would be surprised that I majored in finance in the university, no art related. And for my college classmates or colleagues, they would be surprised about me that “Oh, you can paint!”
- What advice, tip, or suggestion would you give for anyone looking to start their own path in art journaling?
Just be yourself! Write what you think, paint what you imagine, collect what you like, and all these will become your own journal, your own art, unique and unparalleled!

- Other than art journaling, what are some of your other hobbies and interests? 
I nearly put all my spare time into painting. But occasionally I also play video games to get some relax. Recently I just tried this amazing independent game FEZ, which is absolutely an exquisite artwork that brings me a lot of inspiration. And I like to collect toys and figures. They are like my little imaginary friends, keeping me company while painting. I am also a person that can’t live without music, paint without music, walk without music. My recent favorites would be Flunk and Family of the Year.


Thank you so much, Zel, for giving us a peek into your art journaling world!

And for all you wonderful readers looking to find more of Zel's illustrations and journalings, you can find her here-
INSTAGRAM: @miss_zel

Click here to see more journal inspirations and past guests on The Journal Diaries. 


  1. Wow! I love these posts so much. I really love your style of artwork Zel, thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  2. wow we share similar interest! I love to draw, doodle, and paint too! But I'm more to a lazy part here hahaha, btw definitely following ur blog ♥ hope to see more of your future works :)


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