Buster, as the poster dog for IFJM. This is button art I put together for the event. I had hoped to post eight 3-inch button variations at Cafe Press for people, who like me, enjoy t-shirts and buttons to announce events. Unfortunately it was not clear to me when I set up at Cafe Press that only one item could be posted at a time, without upgrading to a "paid" shop status. That's a bit overkill for this project. Consequently the Buster button and one or two other designs will rotate through the month so that I can purchase them. If you want one you know where to go. Click on the image to view an enlargement. (Buster is a short-haired dachshund of my acquaintance.)
NOTE: My post on IFJM is about to fall off my "recent posts" list as I make this page. I want people to be able to find information about IFJM and creating a page that will always appear in the "page" listings seems the easiest way to do this. I will update this page with links to other posts about this event. Please scroll to the bottom of this post to read those updated links.
What Is International Fake Journal Month?
Basically it’s a free pass to put anything in a journal that you might not otherwise put in. At least that’s one way to see it. From April first to April 30, you are encouraged to keep a fake journal different from, or outside of your regular visual journal.
Take on a new persona, alter ego, or be the same person you are now, except in an alternate universe. Maybe you are a cat person and always draw cats, well for April you’ll start a fake journal and just draw birds, with a passion, as if they were the most important animal on the planet. (You can of course continue drawing cats in your real journal, if it suits you.) The only catch is that you need to date your entries in present time, as you complete them, i.e., April 1, 2009, 8 p.m., April 3, 2009, 4 a.m., and so on. Oh, and it has to be a self-contained journal, not your regular journal (that's two catches).
Maybe you want to live somewhere else? Well make a daily journal as if you are already there. It may mean that you’ll need to draw from your imagination a lot because things won’t be in front of you, but there are ways around that. Go to an antiques store or thrift shop and draw those items incorporated in a new reality. Or draw them as your daily drawing activity and make up stories about them.
Perhaps you are always working in pencil. Now is the time to become that artist who always works in pen, just go for it. Or if you are always image heavy in your journal, spend some time writing, pages and pages.
Why? because it’s fun, that’s why. And how often in life to you get a free, no guilt, no shame, just go for it pass on making things up (after the age of 3 of course)?
How Did International Fake Journal Month Get Started?
I founded International Fake Journal Month in 2001. It went sort of like this:
In 2000 I kept two journals. My regular journal and the journal I was keeping as part of the Minnesota Journal Project 2000. It made me think a lot about journals in general and my journals in particular. (Created a little bit of a crisis actually, keeping two journals.) I spent a lot of time (more than at any other time in my life) with other folks who kept journals. It was actually rather odd! I went from being the only person in the room with a journal to being one of many dozen (depending on the event) drawing away in my journal. (There were 46 participants in the journal project, but they were rarely together all at one time.)
Well, my thoughts led to other thoughts and I decided that it would be interesting to keep a fake journal. My good friend Linda humored my lunacy in 2001 by designing official pins for me. (They are still great conversation starters.)
Every year since then I’ve let other people know, nudged them into mendacity. Some past students have taken up the call in various years, but it’s still a small movement. I figure now that I have a blog I can push a little harder, reach a few more people.
Why Participate in International Fake Journal Month?
If you have to ask why then maybe it isn’t for you. Maybe you haven’t ever wondered what your life would have been if you had entered the Peace Corps or become White House Press Secretary like you planned? Maybe you don’t want to explore the day to day thoughts of the inventor of Never-fade Flavor-packed Chewing Resin (patent pending).
But if like me you are always wondering, “what if?” then it makes perfect sense.
Where else can you have so much fun for only the cost of a journal and a few art supplies? (Well OK, you can have that much fun simply keeping your regular journal, but this is different!)
What Are the Costs and Benefits of Participating in International Fake Journal Month?
The costs are minimal: some sort of journal and some art supplies. You don’t have to go to the place your persona lives, you don’t have to live his life, you just have to jot it down. Buy the cheapest over- the-counter journal you can find (you only have to live with it for a month) and a pencil and you’re all set. Or get a hardbound book with sewn signatures and make an altered book journal for the month. (See an example of an altered book journal here.)
The only real cost in this fake endeavor is your time. And you have to do something entertaining with that anyway right?
As for the benefits—they should already be springing to mind. Freedom to play, experiment, explore (especially if you can’t get away right now because of work, health, or the “Economy”), and an opportunity to toss things up.
When we take a moment to take our habits and jostle them up a bit, what shakes out is self-knowledge. Are we obsessive, are we happy, what would make us happy? All sorts of insights pop up when we give our brain the happy little task of fabrication.
Also, keeping a Fake Journal is non-threatening (and mentally hypo-allergenic!) because if you don’t like a page, it doesn’t matter, it isn’t your journal anyway, RIGHT? (It’s about letting go. It will drive your internal critic crazy!)
Come on folks, make this the best April ever for International Fake Journal Month! (Sure it starts on April Fool’s day, but it isn’t an April Fool’s day joke. That’s why I’m telling you about it now, so you can get ready to go!) A page now and then, in a journal designated for the purpose, just through April. Could anything be more simple?
I’ll write more about IFJM (International Fake Journal Month) as April moves along. And the April 9th contest will relate, so check back.
I hope you’ll join me.
Life’s so short, why live only one?
Left: The official IFJM do-it-yourself button. In honor of Linda’s encouragement I have created a typographic pin image very like the original IFJM pin from 2001. You have my permission to move the image at the left to your computer desktop, change the resolution to 300 dpi and it should size down to 2 x 1 inches. Print it out on your printer, glue it to some matboard, trim it using the corner crop marks, and attach a jewelry pin back on it. Then wear it proudly in support of IFJM! You probably already have matboard around the house, and glue, and will just need a pin-back. Heck, if you really don’t want to spend any money just take a safety pin and put it on the back of your “pin” rectangle. Then place a bit of ribbon or fabric over the pin leaving the “moving arm” outside of the ribbon. Glue that ribbon in place to the cardboard. The working arm of the pin will still move freely. You’ve got a pin. Go for it. (Note: black matboard makes the most elegant looking pin because the sides are black. If you like bling you could edge the rectangle with a metallic gold pen!)
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Additional Posts Relating to International Fake Journal Month
Please visit the Official International Fake Journal Month Blog for image postings throughout April, and into May as the contest wraps up. Posting at that site from June through February will likely be light, until things pick up in March 2010 in preparation for next year's celebration.
March 23, 2009 Update on Cafe Press Buttons, provides just that.
March 25, 2009 Just in Time for International Fake Journal Month, reviews a field sketchbook with water resistant pages that might interest you as a possible journal for your participation.
March 29, 2009 New Blog for International Fake Journal Month, announces the creation of a new blog to post any contest entries and other related journal work. The new blog link appears at the top of this update list.
April 1, 2009, How to Have a Successful International Fake Journal Month, reminds you of the two "rules" and provides some tips on getting started and getting along.
April 3, 2009, First Page Spread in My International Fake Journal Month Journal, show the first spread of this journal as well as some comments about what materials I'm using. The text from the page spread is typed out at the end of the post in case you can't read the messy writing, and in that sense you can get a bit of a taste of the person keeping the journal.
April 9, 2009, Celebrating Six Months of Daily Posts: An IFJM Contest, outlines the rules for a contest to celebrate IFJM! The deadline is May 1, 2009, 12 noon Central Standard Time.