In counseling children and teenagers, I must tell you that I’ve seen some incredible talent. Some kids are talented musically, some are talented in sports, some are great writers, others are great artists, and some can tell you every country’s capital as though it were as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In every kid I’ve ever worked with, I’ve found an amazing amount of creativity flourishing inside them.
creativity (noun) – the use of the imagination or original ideas
Everyone is creative in their own way. Don’t believe me? Those kids who can rattle off facts like it’s nothing to them? They had to use some creativity in order to be able to memorize and remember those facts, such as using mnemonics or using music. You have to be creative in different ways if you play a sport, remembering all the moves and such.
I hear a lot of kids (and adults, especially) tell me that they’re not creative. They think that because someone told them back in second grade that their drawing wasn’t “good enough” that they themselves are not “good enough.” I say those people that told you that don’t know what creativity is. Everyone is creative!
There’s something cool about using art in therapy. Please note that while I know some various art therapy techniques, I am not a fully trained or certified art therapist. I do, however, use quite a bit of creative expressive techniques in my work as a therapist. One technique I use to help show people that they are creative and that creative expression is remarkably healing is assigning them to journal. Whether it’s through writing, music, art, or any other creative expressive technique, we can find healing in our lives.
Let me say that you don’t have to be an “artist” to do an art journal. There is no “wrong” way to do art; there is no “bad artist.” Art is an outlet for the thoughts from your soul to your hands and onto paper. For art journaling, you can draw, you can color, you can paint, you can collage… the possibilities are endless. I’ve included in this post some of my favorite art journaling prompts that I use especially with teens (and even adults!). Please note that just because the prompt might say “draw,” doesn’t mean you have to draw. If you’d rather collage or do some other form of creative expression (like knitting or writing or sculpting, etc.), you can still use these prompts! Don’t overthink them. Just let yourself be in the moment and do it. Draw in the dark if you think you’re “not a good artist!” Just let yourself be. Just try it.
55 Art Journal Prompts for Teens
- Draw a picture of yourself as something other than a person.
- Draw a picture of your family doing something.
- My perfect day looks like…
- Draw the monster you struggle with (i.e., anxiety as a monster, anger monster, depression monster).
- Make a picture of the person you let other people see and a picture of the person you really are.
- Draw a picture of how you think others see you.
- What makes me unique…
- I feel happiest when…
- I wish I could…
- Draw or paint your emotions.
- Create a picture using only colors that calm you.
- Create a collage related to a quote that inspires you.
- Create a picture of what freedom looks like to you.
- Document an experience where you did something you didn’t think you could do.
- Draw or collage someone you admire.
- Draw a place where you feel safe.
- Create a motivational collage.
- Create a timeline and journal the most significant moments in your life, with the most important moments highlighted visually.
- Create a picture of an important childhood memory. Try to understand why it was so important to you.
- Illustrate a fairy tale about yourself. If you could put yourself into a happily ever after situation, what role would you play? How would the story go? Create a visual story that tells the tale.
- Create your own coat of arms. Choose symbols that represent your strengths.
- Draw a comic strip about a funny moment in your life.
- Create a picture for someone else.
- Who are the anchors in your life? Make an anchor and decorate it with the people and things that provide you stability and strength.
- Make a mind map that is a visual representation of all your thoughts.
- Draw your dreams.
- What do you need right now at this time in your life? Draw a picture or make a collage depicting this.
- Draw or collage a picture showing what you are currently worried about.
- What smartphone app would you like to create or see created? Represent this visually.
- If magic was real, what spell would you try to learn first?
- What problem are you currently grappling with?
- Create a picture of what helps you feel better when you’re feeling down.
- What is something you really wish you could tell or explain to your family?
- What is something you really wish you could tell or explain to the teachers at your school?
- What is something you really wish you could tell the other kids at school?
- What do you wish would get better?
- Draw your superpower (or the superpower you would like to have).
- Create a vision board.
- What is your good luck charm?
- Draw a picture of something that is better broken than whole.
- What do you need help with right now?
- What question are you afraid to ask?
- What people or activities leave you feeling drained?
- Create a picture of how you would like your home to feel.
- Draw or collage 10 things that make you feel loved.
- Design your own logo.
- Create a picture depicting what keeps you up at night.
- If I really loved myself I would…
- I’m afraid people won’t like/love/accept/want me if they knew ____ about me.
- If you came across a genie in a bottle who could grant you three wishes of anything at all in the world that you want, except for more wishes, what would you wish for?
- Create a picture of what everything would look like if you woke up tomorrow and everything was better.
- I think I’m really good at…
- Draw a picture of where you would be if you could be anywhere right now.
- What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
- Draw a self-portrait WITHOUT drawing your face (make it symbolic).
There you go. Have fun!