Custom Journals

This year I thought it would be fun to paint custom journals for my coworkers! I’m really happy with how they turned out. I pinned a bunch of iconic book covers and then brainstormed ways to work my coworkers’ names into the titles. My husband was a big help with the brainstorming! I have tips for making your own journal covers at the end of this post.

George Orwell’s 1984  as 198Farr
(This is actually the second version of this journal. I tried doing my own take on the book cover and put a giant eye over the title along with some quotes, but it just didn’t look right. That’s when I realized I needed to make my own covers look as similar to the originals as possible.)


Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God


Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House-Five


Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games


Joseph Heller’s Catch-22


J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
(This is my favorite journal cover, but it was also the most intimidating to attempt. Have you ever really looked closely at the original cover? There is so much crazy pen work going on!)


Kafka’s Metamorphosis
(Ms. Zamora’s name was the hardest to put into an existing book title. I don’t even remember how I came up with this one!)


This last one isn’t a book cover, but it it started the whole project. I think I might do more in the “My Little Llama” series…



Interested in doing your own journal covers?


  1. Plain journals (I found mine at the Dollar Store)
  2. Acrylic paint
  3. Colored pencils
  4. Black pen
  5. Workable fixative


  1. Collect images of book covers. Look for covers that are easily recognizable and not too detailed or complicated. I wanted to do The Great Gatsby, but that cover would have been much more work than any of the others.
  2. Insert the recipient’s name (I used last names, but first names would work too) into the book’s title. I started with names that already sounded very similar to a book title like 198Farr (1984) and The Catcher in the Reilly (Rye). Then I started looking for words in titles that started with the same letter like The Hamlin (Hunger) Games and Their Eyes Were Watching Gallen (God). For the rest I matched syllables (with the exception of Zamoramorphosis which had an extra syllable, but the rhythm still worked).
  3. Sketch the book cover design lightly with a pencil and then paint it with acrylic paint.
  4. Use colored pencils or a black pen to add fine details (198Farr, The Hamlin Games, The Catcher in the Reilly, and Lein-22).
  5. Erase the pencil lines and spray with the workable fixative to prevent smudging. You’ll notice I forgot to erase the lines on some of the covers, oops! It was really late and I was trying to finish them in time to hand them out as gifts.

Have you made your own journal covers? Leave me a comment and tell me how it went!

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