Thursday, June 27, 2013

Find Your Voice: Lesson 1: What is Storytelling?

Find Your Voice is a free summer workshop (started June 24) by rukristin papercrafts about finding your storytelling voice through pictures, photographs, social media, prose, and more.

I'm participating! Here's my *super long* blog post answering questions from Lesson 1 and showing off my altered journal that I'll be using for this workshop.

spread 1 - the way i see it
my altered moleskine journal that i'll be using for #findyourvoice
Questions from Lesson 1:
What is Storytelling to you? What stories do you want to tell?
Storytelling to me is:
  • memory keeping
  • writing down your history
  • like a diary or a journal
  • your experiences from your own unique point of view
  • sounds like your voice, and your personality shines through in the story

Stories I want to tell:
  • stories of my life
  • Rob's and my adventures together
  • the funny, touching memories that we will read later and be happy we spent the time to capture it 
  • the little moments that make me smile, day to day, and not just the big events

Who are you? 
I'm Leiah, an artist and graphic designer. I like illustration, color, design, and the internet. I'm interested in web design, vegan food and healthy living, lifestyle design and minimalism, becoming financially independent, memory keeping, documenting, journaling, taking photos, sharing memories, social media and instagram, reading, writing, drawing, watching movies and inspirational talks and podcasts, music and dancing, working out with Turbo Jam, and hanging out with my fiancé Rob.

Me and my fiance Rob after the Color Run 5K
What are your storytelling goals?
  • capture the little things
  • take time to write down the little details of both our big adventures and little day-to-day activities 
  • document the things I know I will forget, so I can delight my future self and gain perspective in my life
In general, I want to create my own fun, colorful, and passionate life that I enjoy. Storytelling fits in with designing my own lifestyle because it helps me write my story after it happened. This will give me perspective and insight as to what I'm doing right to design my ideal life. It will help me write my life story as it's happening, as well as after the fact.

What are your favorite stories (books, movies, music, history, etc)?
Wizard of Oz, Disney movie stories, Harry Potter and other fantasy books, stories from my childhood, fairy tales and fables like Hansel & Gretel, children's books like James & the Giant Peach... I like stories that have elements of magic and surprise. With rich visuals and positive, upbeat, happy messages. All stories have conflict, but I like a happy ending :)

What visual styles do you find aesthetically pleasing and are drawn to?
Vintage, minimalist, Swedish design, hippie and boho, colorful rainbow, Lisa Frank, lots of details and linework, doodles, feminine and organic shapes, art nouveau, nature and botanical illustrations, child-like and cartoony, hand drawn elements, illustration, children's books, collage and sketchbook-y.

See my Art, Illustration, & Collage Pinboard for art I'm drawn to!

Which storytellers do you admire? What can you learn from them?
Hmm, I'm not sure. Maybe Walt Disney? I like the cartoony, animated, simple aspect of Disney. Also, the attention to detail and how everything is on-theme visually. Disney characters are easily recognizable and memorable. They may only exist in one movie or film, but they live on eternally and create new stories outside of that film because their personalities are so strong. They are easy to identify with and easy to love.

I could enhance my storytelling by really describing my characters like Disney does so well. Tell their story and what makes them who they are at this specific point in time. Explain how their personality impacts the adventure and the memory. Give a back-story to them. I know my characters' history now, so share more of that when I'm documenting our adventures and memories.

What is your ideal story? What do you hope to get out of the Find Your Voice summer storytelling workshop?
An ideal story is interesting, has an emotional component, and helps you remember the moment in intense detail -- even after a long period of time has passed. My ideal story is truthful, but has a positive spin on things, if possible. My ideal story tells the memory while keeping an eye on the bigger picture, and tries to show how this story fits in with the bigger overarching story. My ideal story describes things in enough detail to paint a vivid and colorful picture in your mind.

Through the Find Your Voice summer storytelling workshop, I hope to create something creative; something physical. Make something with my hands. Dig deep into those stories and memories that I never make the time to tell. I want to document things for my future self but leave room to explore beyond just the themes of the workshop.

On to the journal!

For this workshop, I wanted to use something I already had to create a mixed-media art journal. I dug up my old Moleskine notebook that I bought like 7 years ago. The first dozen or so pages had writing, drawing, and collage. But those pages seemed so old now. I wanted them out.

Moleskine before surgery

So I cut out the first signature in the binding of the journal! Doing this separated the cover from the block of blank pages, but that's OK. It sits flatter now and is easier to draw on.

then I removed some guts

Those bare pages were too damn bare. I hate when a new journal feels "precious". So I had to ruin them.

watercolor paints

All I need is my cheap-o Crayola watercolor paints and brushes. The layered washi tape on the inside front cover is to cover some residual stickiness from some crap that was there before.

time to watercolor some pages!

I haphazardly watercolored lots of pages, including the outer page edges.

messy paint

I layered the paint on thick and wet on the edges so it would seep into the journal pages and drip down.

rainbow gradient page edges

After I let it dry, I spent some time looking through magazines and creating some collage + words spreads. 


These aren't super on-theme to Lesson 1, but they are a representation of who I am at this stage in my storytelling journey. I even wrote some stories (kinda)! And just set the stage for stories I may document in the future.

spread 1 - the way i see it

I added doodles and lettering. Nothing fancy. Just tried to get it out on the page as fast as possible. On this spread I talked about my love for my new iDevices and minimizing my wardrobe with Project 333.

spread 2 - simplify

I mixed in some washi tape, and used stamped letters, pencil, and different colored pens. This spread is "my creative life", where I just talked about the current status of all my creative projects and activities.

spread 3 - my creative life

A spread about eating and body image lately.

spread 4 - healthy shit

The champagne page is a quick documentation of my trip to NYC with my then-boyfriend Rob. We got engaged in NYC and I've only documented the whole experience briefly in my Project Life. It's definitely a story I need to tell more fully.

spread 5 - us

zooms of spreads 1 & 2

zooms of spreads 3 & 4

And that's it! A few rough pages to start off this project. I'm looking forward to what the next lessons will be, and hope that I am not completely off-base with my collages... They're semi-storytelling, so I'll just assume that it's all good :)


  1. Your journal is awesome! I love the water colors and collages!

  2. LOVE your journal, awesome doodles! Waving hi from the hills of North Carolina ♥ ( fellow FYV )

  3. "I hate when a new journal feels "precious". So I had to ruin them." - I laughed out loud at this - I totally know what you mean about new notebooks!! I love your journal, the watercolor idea is fabulous. (-another FYV participant at

  4. This journal is awesome - love the collages and how you 'ruined' the pages. I need to 'ruin' some pages!!


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