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  • Writer's pictureGabby Bortolot

Get to know: Hand Made By Jess Lee

We sat down with the ever-so-talented local, Jess of Hand Made By Jess Lee to learn about Bullet Journaling or BUJO.

Jess! Welcome to Forever West, we’re pretty new to BUJO. Can you tell us a bit about bullet journaling?

The question everyone asks me and is so hard to answer because it can honestly mean different things to everyone (which is one of the things I love about it). There is no right and wrong way to bujo, but instead it is all about creating something and enjoying the process. If I had to give it a definition I would say it is sort of like keeping a diary and journal, but making it look pretty. What it means to me is a time and space I can unwind, switch off my busy mind and get lost in creating. I pick monthly themes and draw cover pages for each month, weekly spreads, budget spreads etc. all within my chosen theme. Lots of people also include mood trackers, habit trackers, current things they are watching or reading, how many followers they have and many more.

What made you get in BUJO?

I guess I didn’t even know what bullet journaling was either before I started, but throughout school and especially as I got to year twelve, being creative was sort of like my outlet to relax. One way I found motivation to study in year twelve too was by creating mind maps and notes that were all colour coordinated and looked ‘pretty’. I guess that in conjunction with how I liked to stay organised and keep tabs on my to do lists each day ended with me creating lists and diaries that I could also be creative with. It became a way I could intertwine my stressful year twelve with moments of ease as I found this connection. Then I guess I started posting some of my ‘prettier’ looking notes online as I found this “studygram” community on Instagram full of #studyspo content. But, I finished school and I started to discover and learn about bullet journaling which I gained so much inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram and began myself. I enjoyed bullet journaling so much as I didn’t have to connect it with learning and writing notes anymore, but could just get loose and create whatever I felt like. What I did when I first started compared to now has changed so much as I have learnt and found what works best for me.

You’ve built a huge online community, when did you create @handmadebyjesslee, and what’s it like having your work resonate with so many people?

Like I just mentioned I think the very early stages of my account began in 2017 when I was finishing year 12, but it is so different now. For example, my first few posts I remember just copying some cool stuff I saw on Pinterest in a journal I had, which had lined paper. Never would I use a lined journal now, most people who bujo use dotted journals and I also love to create my own spreads now rather than copy and steal someone else’s designs. Of course I still look up to people for inspiration or ideas, but I would never completely copy someone else’s art without crediting them or putting my own twist on it. I love the whole bujo community online and how most people respect each other and lift one another up instead of ripping off each other’s ideas. I think sometimes it can be hard when a spread you spent so many hours working on doesn’t even get much attention, but I try not to focus on the numbers and get fixated on likes and comments as that can get very toxic, but instead I do it because I enjoy it. If it felt like a chore or I didn’t find it relaxing anymore then I wouldn’t do it. It is my hobby and I love it and I love being able to share it with likeminded people in a community where we all support each other. Sometimes I also struggle with putting myself down and not thinking my spreads are good enough to post or comparing my growth to other accounts, but I am trying to get better at that. That’s why I have never actually shared this account on any of my personal social accounts and it has been pretty much a secret this whole time. Over the years I have told some of my closer friends and family, but I guess I’ve just struggled with feeling like it is not good enough or being judged for my art abilities or even posting it online. However, I know that is me just being harsh on myself as I am only ever met with love and encouragement when I share this account with people I know, so I hope putting this in this magazine does the same and ignites my passion even more.

What’s the most memorable bullet journal you’ve ever created?

That is a hard question, but there have been a few themes I created that people just went crazy for, for example my Harry Potter theme or my animal pointillism (dot drawing) in the past and they got so much reach and love that you can’t help but feel so happy. You spend hours doing these spreads and I do mainly do it for the enjoyment like I said earlier, but when your post reaches those heights or someone loves it so much they recreate it themselves, it does make me feel really good. I look to others for inspiration and so to see others doing that with my page seems crazy, like why would they want to do that? In those moments I guess I must be doing something right.

Is there a large bullet journalling community in the west or throughout greater Melbourne?

I wouldn’t necessarily say in the west, but there sure is a massive community online from all over the world. That has to be one of the best things about it. I have connected with people from around the world who share the same passion for bullet journaling. There is this whole community on Instagram and Facebook that I have fallen into and so I not only get to share my own work, but see all the creativity and talent from the friends I have made online from the other side of the world. They are all so supportive and lovely and also very talented!

Hand Made By Jess Lee


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