Visual Journal Page 42: Step Outside of the Box


This visual journal page is inspired by high school students. I currently am a high school art teacher and it was difficult returning to the halls of a high school, interacting with teenagers hyped up on hormons, and constantly being reminded of all the things I learned as I walked these halls almost ten years ago.

School was created as a place for study, to learn history, math, a place to discover what you are good at, and where you want to go in life. However, in reality school is also a place to discover yourself. This is where you have your first interactions with those outside of your family, you learn to develop relationships, deal with conflict, and discover your personality; and sometimes these lessons can be much harder than the the academic ones.

As I have matured the seemingly mountain of problems and bad situations I had as a teen has been reduced to a small pile. Things that caused great distraught and dramatic fights seem trivial and juvenile now. With each passing year I forget another silly teenage angst moment, and I am looking forward to the moment when the memories of poor judgment and insecurities don’t exist. Now as an outsider looking in, as I watch my students interact, gossip, and swing from mood to mood I am reminded that I acted the exact same way, and how pointless it all is.

There is such heartache as a teenager. You are constantly changing, physically, emotionally, and mentally. You work so hard to find your niche, stick with your friends, begin to date your crush, only to find that their attitude and interests are also changing, which may eventually push you apart. I remember being so self conscious, second guessing every word that came out of my mouth, and every piece of clothing I put on. I did anything to blend in with the crowd, yet try to stand out at the same time. All I wanted was to get noticed by the boy I liked and find a way to fit in.

Over time I have realized the internal struggles teenagers deal with can prevent them from expressing themselves on the exterior. Because many teens are dealing with fear of judgement and fitting it, they put on a false exterior in an attempt to hide insecurities. Suddenly, they wear the same clothes, listen to the same music, go to the same places, walk, talk, and become the same person. The unique nuances and quirks that separate and define each person becomes buried in an attempt to be like everyone else.

I remember going through this myself. I remember begging my mom to let me shop at Abercrombie and Fitch, because everyone was wearing it. I remember waking up extra early to plan my outfit, carefully apply my makeup, making sure my perfect exterior was constructed before setting foot in school. My only consolation is knowing this phase didn’t last forever. Eventually I did rediscover the qualities that made me, me, and I grew to appreciate and love them.

I wish I could impart my knowledge on every teenager unsure of themselves, putting up walls, and false exteriors to please someone else. But I have to remind myself that each experience helps us become our future selves, and some things can’t be learned through words, they must be experienced. But, if any words get through all I can say is high school really doesn’t matter. Your true friends will stick by you no matter what you wear or how you talk. The boy you like only really matters if he knows your true self, and likes you just the way your are. Have fun, relax, bigger problems will come later, take this time to enjoy life. Take a moment and try to step outside of the box and discover yourself before you waste time trying to become something you aren’t. You are more interesting, I promise.


  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber Cement
  • Book pages
  • Magazine cut outs
  • Sharpie
  • Colored Pencil
  • Packaging tape


This visual journal page was inspired by two separate magazine images I found. The black and white image was found in an old “Life” magazine and the colorful girl cut outs were found in a Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) magazine. I loved the contrast between the real life black and white image versus the pink and purple drawings. The idea for this page began onces these images made their way next to each other.

I began by cutting out the images and laying them out on the page. I liked the idea of having the colorful images in a straight line, with the black and white woman looking like she is literally stepping out of the page. After laying it out I decided I needed to create a sense of space, and an area that framed these images.

To do this I turned to my stack of old, yellowed books. I ripped out a few pages, laid them in a straight line, and loved the way it looked. The yellowed page made the black and white woman pop even more. I carefully glued down the pages and the images on top.

As much as I loved the layout it still looked incomplete. After considering various options I decided to add tape transfers of book pages to the top and bottom to frame the main image even more. To do this all I did was cut off a strip of clear packaging tape, lightly taped it on top of the yellowed book pages, and quickly ripped the tape off. This caused the top layer of ink and some of the paper to stick to the tape, creating a semi-transparent affect. I then taped the tape transfer to the top and bottom of the page.

Last, but not least, I wrote my words with sharpie under the black and white image. To tie the words in with the overall look of the page I traced back over it in purple and pink colored pencils, to match the colorful cut outs.


Incorporate a newspaper or book page tape transfer somewhere in your next journal page.

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