During my artist talk at Art Intersection, one gallery viewer asked if I use a journal to work out my ideas for A Million Suns. Of all the artist tools that I use, Evernote is one of the most important. I use evernote for practically everything: inspiration, image ideas that I want to work on, any fleeting thoughts that I want to remember, quotes, pictures, or text snippets that I come across. Everything goes into it.
What Makes Evernote the Ultimate Artist Journal
- Evernote is free. It has a desktop and iPhone/android version. You can record anything wherever you are and your notes will be synchronized across all your devices. There is a $45 premium version, which has a greater upload limit (this is what I use). If you are looking for an artist journal that goes with you everywhere, evernote is it. No bringing around a small physical notebook with pencil.
- Not only does Evernote index all the words in your notes/pdfs/documents, it even recognizes text in pictures. To me the index function is one of the most important features. It’s not necessary to create folders or have some hierarchical structure to your notes. I’ve been using evernote since 2009, and I have 6,519 notes on it now. It’s come to the point that I call evernote The Oracle. I will do a search on it, and it will return notes that I’ve forgotten about. My own personal google.
- One approach that I’ve found really helpful is not to create notebooks. If you create multiple notebooks, over time, it just becomes unwieldy. For years, I used to create separate notebooks for different “topics.” The problem with this approach is that when you search, you tend to get lost in thinking which notebook you put it in. Grouping notes by notebooks is not important because of the indexing function that I mentioned above. What I tend to do now is that, when I’m saving a new note, I also put in keywords and other phrases that I think I would use if I were to search for this particular note in the future (in case those words are not used anywhere in what you are saving.
- Instead of notebooks, I use tags. I’ve tried for years to implement David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) system. First using paper and cards and other methods, but using evernote and tags are slowly working for me. If I want to see all notes grouped under a topic, I can search by #tags instead of navigating to notebooks.
Give evernote a try. It’s the 21st century version of the artist journal.