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The Journal Diaries- Camp Illustrated by Matt

The Journal Diaries is a blog segment where we get a sneak peek into the journals, notebooks, organizers, and diaries from people all over the world. My special guest today is Matt, based in California, USA.

- Hi Matt! Tell us a little more about yourself and your background.
I'm 24 and just spent the better part of the summer and early fall camping out of my car throughout Oregon, Washington, Canada and Montana in an experiment to live more simply than I was able to in the Bay Area, having more time to invest in the outdoors and drawing. Last year (prior to the trip) as I was moving out to California I started a project on Instagram where I take other users outdoor photographs and turn them into quick illustrations - shedding light on their rad photographs and sending the piece to them in the mail if they wanted it. A community that is interested in both art and outdoor pursuits formed around the work and rather quickly that has turned into the opportunity to pursue illustration as a career!

- When did your love for drawing all begin?
Some of my earliest memories involve scenes of me drawing the characters on the TV while my other friends are just watching the movie, or instead of playing with an action figure trying to draw it. Like many things, its place in my daily life has come and gone and come again. If it weren't for some really boring classes in college where all I did was doodle, I'm not sure I would be on the same artistic path I am on now.

- Do you feel that your artistic style has changed throughout the years?
My style has changed a lot through the years - though the way I draw seems to have stayed the same. In high school I was concerned with drawing from life using mediums like charcoal and pencil. In college I started using primarily india ink and dip pens and went into a purely abstract phase for several years doing large ink and wash drawings with names like "Catharsis II" or something ha! Now I use mainly watercolors and micron pens - taking a more illustrative approach and rarely working bigger than 8.5x11. I do a lot of outdoor related stuff mixed in with some heavy doodling.

- What inspires most of your artwork?
The work I'm doing now is primarily inspired by the outdoors and the activities we adventure junkies do in them. Once I graduated college, I interviewed for a position at a local outdoor retailer. After explaining all of my outdoor experience the dude looked at my resume and said "But you're real passion is art" because I had majored in it. I didn't land the job but since then have been having a fun time combining those interests every way I can - most intentionally through my project "Camp Illustrated." 

- Any particular time of the day that inspires you to create more than others?
Nights are the most creative for me. If I can, I like to sit down at my desk in the evening and just doodle with no objective. Now that I'm taking a stab at doing art for a living, I'm learning to wake up and warm up a little in the sketchbook before tackling the commissioned stuff throughout the afternoon and evening.

- Are your sketchbooks only used to document your outside adventures, or are they also used on a daily basis?
I almost always have one of several sketchbooks with me for different occasions. I just spent about 4 months camping and traveling out of my car throughout the Pacific Northwest and filled up one sketchbook with writings and drawings from that time. I have a pocket book that I take only when I'm backpacking. There's another book filled up with mainly doodles and ends up having no chronology because I go back and fill in the blank spaces.

- What type of notebook, or paper, do you find works best for your artwork?
As of now, my favorite sketchbooks come from Handbook Journal Co out of Kansas City. I use the Travelogue series watercolor books. What I enjoy about them is the paper quality -good binding and tooth that allows me to work on both sides of the page.

- What are your go-to tools for the illustrations?
Micron pens are the go-to pen or me. I have tried several others pens but keep going back to Sakura for the quality as well as the variety of colors and sizes. I use Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolors sets for mobilities sake and top my kit off with Bic mechanical pencils!

- What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
When I'm meeting people out here on the west coast they are often surprised to find out I lived most of my life in Oklahoma - probably because I like the outdoors, have long hair, and no okie accent.

- What advice, tip, or suggestion would you give for anyone looking to start their own skethcbook or illustration journal?
Invest in a good quality book that doesn't have perforated or tearable pages. This way you're forced to keep the mess ups and rework them into something better. I'm yet to complete the perfect book - but thumbing through them I'm always reminded of old stories or stuff I've improved on.

- Other than drawing and exploring the outdoors, what are some of your other hobbies and interests? gal, making music, coffee table books about cabins and other simple shelters.


Matt, thank you so much for taking the time to share your creative sketchbooks with us!

For all you wonderful readers looking to connect and to continue being inspired by Matt's outdoor illustrations, you can find more of his work here:
INSTAGRAM: @campillustrated

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


  1. Wow moment!
    He's really good! I absolutely love his drawings!
    I need inspiration like this to get my work going as I stopped.. no idea why but I'm not as creative as I was a few months ago. working on it though. to get back on track!

    Love this post!
    Jade xo

    1. Jade, yes! Get back at it! Always keep your passion for creating alive! I'd love to see some of your work!

  2. Thank you for introducing me to this artist. Beautiful and inspiring work!

  3. Great interview. Love his sketches, especially the camp Illustrated pages-crammed with wonderful doodles.

    1. Thank you, Shelley! His sketches are really something, aren't they! I love his passion for the great outdoors!

  4. Amazing, What an inspiration, thanks for sharing, I really love these section!

    1. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I'm happy that you enjoy this segment as I plan on expanding it!

  5. I have actually read a lot of your blog posts in the last hour. I really enjoy what you are doing here. (And as a writer of fantasy novels, I'm enjoying looking at different aspects of that when you go through them in blog post). And truly, I love world-culture building.

    1. Thank you, Olivia. I appreciate your time and warming comment! I hope you continue to enjoy all of the wonderful upcoming posts that are in store!

  6. The tent drawing is amazing! - Becky x


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