We recently came across the beautiful journals of Dominican Republic native, Nicole Lara. She found a way to combine her calendar/to-do lists with her delightful doodles in a highly organized and functional way. In fact, we loved it so much we decided to interview her below to see how she gets things done. You can see more of Nicoles’ artwork on her website, Instagram, or Youtube.

What made you start doing these highly-detailed and stylized journals?

I started these journals for 2 reasons:

(1) I wanted to become more organized to find time study drawing and painting while having a full time job.

(2) I was always afraid to start drawing anything. In my head, my skill level was never good enough to draw complete pieces. So, in an attempt to “trick” my mind, I decided to start doodling every day in my journal, where it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. Since it’s “just my notebook,” I felt less pressured to draw a perfect drawing and I would just have fun with it. With time, I began to feel more confident with the pen and I’ve started to draw more and more outside of my journal.

What kind of notebooks/sketchbooks do you use to do your journals?
I use Junior size discbound notebooks. My notebook is similar to the Arc (Staples) and Circa (Levenger) notebooks. However, I put mine together with pieces from different companies. I use The Happy Planner discs for my main journal, black Levenger discs for my projects notebook, covers from the store Jane’s Agenda and I print and cut my own paper at home. The digital paper files I use are posted on my website for free, so anyone can download them if they’d like to make a notebook like mine.

What kind of pen/pencils do you prefer?
I prefer using Staedler pigment liners for the line art. To color I’ve used Ergosoft colored pencils and recently Tombow markers. 

What is the toughest thing about creating your journals/agendas?

When I make a mistake and I can’t erase it, so I have to work around it to make the drawing look nice anyways!

What are some things that inspire you?

I’ve found a lot of inspiration from nature and the seasons. For example, on June I was inspired by an under the sea theme so I drew creatures and objects you’d find in the ocean, and on August I was inspired by the hot weather to draw ice creams.

How do you keep yourself focused and doing this on a daily basis?
I make it easy for myself and I choose a monthly topic to base my drawings on. Then, every time I sit down to draw, I have a rough idea of what to do, so I don’t waste time or get discouraged because of “not knowing what to draw.” Also, I opened a small block of time after my morning routine and during my lunch break when I know I can sit down and draw regardless of what other tasks I need to complete during the day. 

Do you have any tips for our readers on how to keep active and drawing everyday?
I recommend them to choose a topic about something they like. It can be for a week or for several weeks. If they like flowers, cars, or clothes, then they can start off by drawing those first and then adding elements to increase the challenge.

On top of everything, I’d remind them that getting better is something that will happen over time and without them noticing. Their first drawings don’t have to be and won’t be perfect, but after practicing and practicing they will improve for sure.

We’d like to thank Nicole for taking the time to provide our readers with insight on how she creates her beautiful journals. Don’t forget to follow her in her social media channels and visit her website for more great insight.