I thought I would share one of my favourite tools for journaling prompts: Art Oracle Cards. I've used this in almost all of my journaling workshops at some point, and they're always a hit.

Each of these cards features an artist, and three pieces of advice they have for life, work and inspiration. There are 50 cards in the deck, and have artists from all fields, from classic painters to designers to architects. The cards themselves are gorgeous to look at and hold, and meticulously researched. Some of the artists are world famous, and others I hadn't heard of before, but the whole card deck is beautiful.

While the artwork is beautiful, and the cards are also made out of high-quality, smooth, matte stock, it's really the pieces of advice on the bottom that I'm looking at.

Here's one way to use the cards: draw a card at random, and look at the three pieces of advice on the card. Spend a minute or two thinking about them.

Start writing with any of the following prompts:

  • Let me give you some advice: ... (you could be talking to yourself, your spouse, a friend, the world...)
  • Five years ago, if you told me ... I would've ...
  • The worst thing you could ever believe is: ...
  • If my mom told me ... , I would tell her ...

Set a timer and write for five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes. Try not to let yourself stop, even if you feel stuck or your hand is cramping. Keep going and see where it takes you, even if it takes you to a rambling story that makes no sense or into a bizarre twist of the past. While there's some light-hearted fun in some of these, if you ask yourself a question based on a fork in the road of your life, you might be surprised by where you head when you just keep writing.

Here are a few select pieces of advice:

  • Invent the words by which to live your life. (Buckminster Fuller)
  • If no group will have you, start your own. (Gustav Klimt)
  • Find clarity in clutter. (Alighiero Boetti)
  • Listen when a city tells its secrets. (Diane Arbus)

But they're all great! They're funny, weird, unusual, and you could go in so many directions with all of them. "Vision requires not sight but spirit" (William Blake) - what does that mean?? What sort of vision? I've been thinking about Lasik for years! But spirit. All of the things in this life to see. Vision and spirit. What am I seeing? What do I wish I could see?

Here are some other ideas to use the cards:

Try asking a question first (what am I spending too much time on? how can I get more out of life? how can I fix my relationship with someone? where should I go in my future?), and then picking out one of these cards to start writing.

Pick one of these cards and stick them up on your mirror, in your planner, at your desk for the week,, and see if there's any prescient insight with those words at the top of your mind. A fortune cookie. What might you see if you otherwise weren't looking?

Select an area of your life, like work, your creative life, a relationship, a craft or skill like cooking or sewing, and pick a card. See how the advice applies specifically to that area of your life. When it comes to running a small business, "there's more than one way to read a map." (Alighiero Boetti)

As always, I truly believe the key is to keep writing. Sometimes the trick is to start writing, which is maybe where these cards might come in, but otherwise, just keep the ink flowing on the page, no matter the words that come out.

The card set also comes with a booklet with a short biography of each of the artists, and when you read it, often the advice makes much more sense. None of the advice are words taken directly from the artist, but inspired by their life and their art. Regardless of the biography though, it's always interesting to see where my brain goes when I consider the pieces of advice offered to me.

Some last few ideas: you can also use these cards as bookmarks, to include with your snail mail or with gifts on birthdays, as a fun party activity or favours.


It's February and I can hardly believe it.

January flew by (what month doesn't?) and here we are, midway through arguably the yuckiest month of the year. I just successfully survived wrangling all of Caleb's valentines for his classmates. His teacher sent home a list of names at the end of January, with a note on the bottom saying start early so your child has time to write all of the names. You can tell she has done this before (and I clearly have not).

Ho ho, how the over-confident/under-organized fell on February 13th.


Currently reading: Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things
Currently eating: sea salt dark chocolate from Galerie au chocolat
Currently writing with: Pilot Custom 823 with Diamine Ancient Copper, Platinum White Chenonceau with Aurora Blue-Black, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20 with Waterman Mysterious Blue
Currently working on: bringing in more calligraphy and lettering books into the shop (oh, the rabbit hole of book catalogues...)
Latest heard from the mouths of babes:
(Caleb, while playing "mom and dad and baby" with his friend and the actual baby)
Caleb: It's time for LUNCH! Watch out, baby, the stove is HOT! If you touch it you're going to DIEEEEEEEEE!! HA HAHAHA!!!

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February 14, 2019 — wonderpens


Philip Akin

Philip Akin said:

Have you ever seen Oblique Strategy cards by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt? Nowhere near as attractive as the Art Oracle cards but they can be helpful in providing options for looking at problems in an unexpected way.



Nadine said:

Do you expect to get more of these great cards in the spring? I wasn’t quick enough to get mine the first time.


wonderpens said:

We have some more on order! So lovely to see interest in the beautiful artwork and great “life advice”… :)


Sasha said:

I love the “latest heard”…


GShandro said:

I love this!! Thank you so much!

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