Star Wars, David Bowie and Tan Sri P. Ramlee are among this Malaysian's creative journal entries

Rubber stamps, stamp pads, washi tapes and fountain pens are among the essential items for journalling. Photos: Khairul Anuar Hashim

Senior business development manager Khairul Anuar Hashim, 40, has a fair share of interesting work-related stories to tell – from the colourful characters he meets to work-related stress he faces to all the people from different walks of life that he works with.

Whenever something interesting happens at work, he puts it down in his journal.

“There are plenty of unspoken thoughts and jokes that come to my mind whenever I communicate with people and I want to bring them all to life in a journal where I can have the freedom to express myself.

“In the future, I can flip through my journal and these entries will jolt my memory back. The ability to create a little world on a page based on random personal thoughts gives me satisfaction, ” said Khairul, 40, who lives in Gelugor, Penang.Check out Khairul’s work on his Instagram page, big.boi.journal.Check out Khairul’s work on his Instagram page, big.boi.journal.

Just as how many people turn to blogs or update their daily happenings on Facebook and Instagram, there is a growing number of individuals who are choosing to record their everyday experiences in a journal.

Khairul is one of them.

“There are very few men who are into journalling, compared to women. So far, I’ve come across less than 10 Malaysian guys who enjoy this creative art.

“I like journalling because it provides me with a good work-life balance. It teaches me to trust myself in my work and reminds myself of my identity. Most importantly, it teaches that consistency and perseverance is the only way to success. Through journalling, I am constantly learning, writing and doing the things that I love, ” said Khairul, who updates his journals three times a week.

Khairul has been penning down his thoughts in journals for three years. He has about six 60-page notebook journals and a 400-page A5 notebook diary which is still a work in progress.

Vintage ornaments, maps and books collected from local flea market and vintage thrift shop are among the items used in Khairul's vintage photography content.Vintage ornaments, maps and books collected from local flea market and vintage thrift shop are among the items used in Khairul's vintage photography content.

“My interest in journalling comes from my mother. She loves to jot down recipes in cooking journals. But the turning point came when my ex-college mate Arman Ismail presented me with a fountain pen in 2017. That fuelled my passion for hand writing.

“My journalling style has certainly evolved in the last three years. From the feedback and influence from the journalling community, my style has changed – from how I lay out my page, my photography style and also how I present my work on social media, ” shared Khairul, a bookworm who also gets journalling inspiration from British author Nick Bantock (The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy).

Khairul has improved on his journalling style over the years. Thanks to Pinterest and Instagram, he’s managed to connect with other journalling enthusiasts who have taught him about journalling.

“Social media is also a community or ecosystem where people who share similar interests can interact with each other, no matter how far apart we may be.

“In the journalling world, we often celebrate differences and we support each other during our ups and downs, especially during these difficult times when the pandemic is ongoing.”

Khairul's tribute to one of his favourite films, Star Wars, which he did on May 4, or Star Wars Day.Khairul's tribute to one of his favourite films, Star Wars, which he did on May 4, or Star Wars Day.

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to designing one’s journal. Some journalling enthusiasts prefer to dress up their pages with washi tapes and stickers but Khairul is drawn to the vintage look because he feels it is ageless and evokes sense of nostalgia.

A majority of his entries are ‘blasts from the past’, on topics like George Lucas’ 1977 film Star Wars, his favourite singer David Bowie and popular retro songs from the 1980s.

“It is a special feeling... reminiscing the past with a vintage photo or ephemera, or an ancient collectible while also expressing my own feelings in a journal.

“Whenever I purchase or exchange a vintage ephemera with people from the journalling community, I will study the particular incident or era that it is from. It feels like travelling back in time and being able to experience that era first hand.

Instead of focusing on too many decorative items in his journals, he emphasises his writing style.Khairul's collage journal, inspired by power couple singer David Bowie and supermodel Iman, and author Nick Bantock.Khairul's collage journal, inspired by power couple singer David Bowie and supermodel Iman, and author Nick Bantock.

“My writing style is influenced by the simplified cursive scripts with some of my own modifications. I firmly believe that a journal is a medium for me to freely express myself, and so the content is what I focus on more.

“For me, the chemistry between fountain pen and paper is important. A good pen with the wrong type of paper will not work well; but a good pen coupled with good paper is vital.

“One needs to have the right mood while writing, together with props like stamps, stickers and other ephemera, to create a complete journal.”

Journalling doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive hobby, Khairul explained. It boils down to one’s personal preference and satisfaction, and budget.

“I’ve seen excellent journalling work with just a pencil and watercolours. Content is king. The message we want to deliver or remind ourselves of is the soul of a journal. The rest will come naturally.

“Never feel intimidated by others’ journals. Instead, keep on learning. Learn photography and video skills, especially if you want to share your work on social media platforms, ” he advised.

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