bullet journalling : the supplies you'll need to get started

11:11 AM

As you all know by now, I am a big fan of the bullet journal system since I took the plunge last year, and am now at my second BuJo (you can see this year's setup here).

For the artist that I am, the bullet journal makes total sense. It let me be creative and doodle more, it is flexible enough to allow me to insert lists and spreads when I need them, and I get an excuse to play with a lot of colors, techniques and supplies.
But don't worry, you really don't need to be an artist to enjoy keeping a bullet journal. That is the beauty of the system, it can be as elaborate or as utilitarian as you want it to be, and unlike conventional planner, is always tailored to suit your needs since you are the one making the rules for it.

Getting started really just boil down to getting the right supplies and this little blog post is here to help you with that. Note that all the shopping links below are Amazon affiliate links, if you click on them and make a purchase I get paid a commission at no extra cost to you whatsoever.

Let's talk notebook!

The most important tool of bullet journalling is the notebook. There are no rules that say you must buy one specific type of notebook over another, but if you are in for a creative journal, you might want to pay extra attention to the type of paper and quality of your notebook. 

If you Google bullet journal, you will notice that a lot of people favour the dotted grid paper or the checked paper. This is because this type of grid let you be more flexible and allows you to draw boxes and tables in your journal with ease. The dotted grid is also subtle enough to let you sketch and doodle (great if you are a doodler like me).

If you are more utilitarian, a ruled notebook will do just fine, in fact this is the type of notebook I used last year. In my case it had its fair share of limitation, but that is because I am a more artistically inclined journal keeper and the lines got in the way of my creativity, not to mention they made it a a real pain in the butt to draw tables. 

Now let's talk brands shall we? You don't have to spend more than a few minutes perusing blog posts and articles about bullet journaling to realise that the community is strongly divided into two clans : Leuchtturm and Moleskine. 
All fine except that both brands will cost you an arm and leg and possibly the soul of your first born child to the devil in India. I will not chew my words here the prices for those two brands are RIDICULOUS. 

The Leuchtturm 1917 which is often considered the best of the best in the BuJo world will set you a cool 3344 rupees on Amazon. Sure people brag about the paper quality, the pocket folio on the back cover and the two bookmarks or even the numbered pages or the Index page. 
But if you ask me none of that justify the import price and fees, so no but no thanks! 

The Moleskine dotted journal is a bit more reasonable and the prices on Amazon regularly go between 900 rupees and 1900 rupees depending who is selling it. I nearly went for it when it was priced 900 bucks. I say nearly because reviews for that notebook are lukewarm, the people in love with the brand praise it, but most will admit the paper quality could be better and it absorb a lot of ink and cases of bleed through or ghosting are common. I would have gone for it if it wasn't for fate pointing me to an Indian brand selling a dotted grid notebook. 

The desi brand in question is myPAPERCLIP, and their 192 pages dotted grid notebook is priced at 795 rupees. 
I'm glad I went for this one, first because I'd rather buy local stuff rather than pay huge import taxes, especially on a notebook, and then because the paper quality in it is OUTSTANDING. 
I haven't had problem with ghosting so far and the paper is smooth making writing in it an awesome experience. 

Ok so now what about pens? 

If you are going to go the utilitarian route, your good old ball point or gel pen alone will do on most paper. 
If you are in for a prettier journal, then a few extra supplies are in order. But first let me tell you that i write all the daily content with my black gel pen and I have been swearing by Ocean Gel pens for year. The ink quality is even good enough to use in my illustrations and doodles. 

For color writing, I swear by fineliner pens like Maped Graph'Peps or Staedtler fineliner pens or even Sakura Micron pens which are more artist grade in quality. 

Fineliners are a great way to color code your tasks or highlight or underline important things and titles in your bullet journal. 
Speaking of highlights and details, I love my Uni-Ball Signo gold pen, I use the gold pen the most, in my planner, or in my artwork, but I also own it in Silver and White. It comes in other colors as well. 
You really can't go wrong with that pen if you want to add a sparkly touch to your BuJo. 

What about colors? 

If your aim is to be creative in your bullet journal, you'll need colors, and find the right one to go on your paper. 
I myself usually go with color pencils for a lot of thing, as this reading log page will tell you: 

And for that you really don't need to break the bank on costly high end pencils, I used these Color Peps pencils from Maped and they do the trick just fine. 

If pencils are not your thing you can go for markers, but do test them on a page at the back of your journal first because a lot of markers will bleed through in most notebooks, especially darker colors. 
For my artwork I use Sakura Koi brush pens, but I can't use them in any notebook because they have a nasty tendency to ghost on almost all paper. 
I hate to break it to you, but so far the only markers that haven't bled in one of my notebooks are the Tombow brush pens. 

Unfortunately those aren't exactly cheap in India, especially if you buy them per piece on Amazon, but there are ways around it, you could buy a basic set of 10 colors like this one bringing the price down to about 160 rupees per pen. Or check with your local art supply shop if they are willing to sell them as loose pieces. 
My favourite art supply store does it and sell the individual pens of this 96 colors set at 180 rupees each. Which works perfectly for me since I favour blue, purple and pink in my artwrok and care little for the other colors. 

Some people use watercolor in their BuJo, a thing I personally won't do, because the paper in a typical notebook is not made to soak the amount of water that watercolor involves. It will inevitably make your paper warp and give a crinkly feel, which is fine if the distressed look is your thing, it simply isn't my cup of tea. 

Embellishment galore! 

The beauty of the bullet journal system is that you can really go nuts with stickers, stamps and washi tape. The sky is the limit in that department (or rather your budget...)

My personal favourite is washi tape, I LOVE washi tape. It comes in many colors and style and you can get really creative with it. 
Most stationery and art supplies shop will have a selection of tape in stock or a quick search on Amazon will yield good results. This is what I got simply typing in "washi tape".

I keep all my tape rolls handy in a box in my desk drawer : 

I usually use washi tape as headers, dividers or to outline boxes in my journal. My second favourite type of embellishment are stamps. I use them less than doodles but every now and then they serve their purpose. I have quite a few some mounted on wooden blocks like in the box above, some are peelable stamps that can be mounted on clear acrylic blocks like these.

As far as ink is concerned, I favour black ink over others, I have a few colored ink pads, but they don't have the same appeal as my very basic Camlin Stamp pad which for some reason I cannot find on Amazon. The alternative to that pad is the Faber-Castell stamp pad

Stickers are another option to embellishing your BuJo and again the options are limitless. I personally use them less in my bullet journal than I did in the Summer of 2016 journal project or even my creative journal, but I still occasionally do use them. 

To prevent your bullet journal from bulging and doubling in thickness I recommend you stick to flat stickers instead of sparkly stones stickers or foam ones. Keep those for scrapbook pages and creative journals. 

The most recent embellishment tool I am using is a template ruler. I chose that one because it's metallic, sturdy and has little icon stencils I find useful. But there are many other stencil rulers options out there. The advantage of stencil rulers is that you can create a consistent look in your journal and most will fit inside your journal for storage. Mine is slim and I keep it tucked on the last page in my notebook. 

And there are still the good old doodles!

If you are a doodler, the only embellishments you might be into are your own creations and for that, all you will need is your imagination, and the basic supplies listed above. 

So have I convinced you to get started on a bullet journal? What are the journalling supplies you swear by? Leave your tips in the comments, but please avoid spammy links.

The ultimate guide to bullet journal supplies for beginners

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