The blackout journal from Archer & Olive has been my object of desire for a while now, and I’m so happy to say that I finally got one! Here’s my review of this journal, and what you can expect from it and how to get started.
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Archer & Olive seems to be a brand most of us in the Bullet Journaling community dream about. We all hear about their absolutely adorable designs and beautiful pure white 160 GSM paper.
But this year Bonnie, the fantastic creative behind A&O came up with another incredible idea – a Blackout Book, truly a one of it’s kind journal!
This little guy has the same quality as their usual notebooks, but …. All the pages are black!! How crazy is this!!
I’ve been dreaming about getting one for a while, and finally, it happened. Some time ago this beauty arrived at my doorstep and I just can’t wait to start playing around with it. I’m actually going to use it for my August setup, which is pretty exciting.
Let’s dive in and see what this journal has to offer. Oh and by the way, I did film a video review and pen test, so make sure to check that out at the end of the post.
Let’s start with a few words on the details of the journal.
The notebook is A5 size with a linen cover. It also offers an elastic band, two ribbons, and a pen holder. Pretty much all you can expect from a proper journal. I must mention though, that since the cover is linen it’s a bit more prone to accumulate dust that it’s leather or faux leather counterparts.
The paper is 160 GSM, lay flat and has a 0.5 cm dot grid. Pages are black with grey dots. And moreover, the journal actually has silver gilded pages (at least on the journal I bought).
There is something I noticed about the paper while I was setting up my August. It’s a bit rough so it’s not very good for pencil first approach. If you send to do very deep pencil sketches of your pages (like I usually do), when erasing you can erase also little bits of the page. My tip would be to go pretty light on pencil while planning the page and it’ll be totally fine.
A little thing to note is that there are no pre-made pages, pages aren’t numbered and there is no back pocket. None of those are really important to me personally, but I know it might be something other people would miss, so I thought it’s worth mentioning.
What Writes On Black Paper
Before we get into how to use the journal, let’s talk about what stationery can be used to write on it. Personally, this was my biggest issue, since most of my supplies wouldn’t be suitable.
Therefore, the first thing you should do for your blackout notebook is a pen test. When I did one in mine, I tried to gather all the possible pens, markers, and other stationery to find the most suitable ones. Keep this in mind, and I’m sure you’ll find some useful ideas there.
The first thing I thought about is, of course, gel pens. My first choice were gold, silver and white Uniball Signo pens. I’ve been using these to correct mistakes and add headers on black washi tape in my 2019 setup, so I knew they would look great in the blackout journal as well.
Something you should always pay attention while using gel pens thought is to go slow, otherwise, the ink might be distributed unevenly, which is very noticeable on black pages.
Also, always give the ink time to dry, especially if you’re planning to write over it.
Then I tried Sakura Gelly Rolls. These all looked fantastic and they have the extra bonus of coming in so many colors and shades! I currently have 3 sets and love ho unique each of them look on the paper.
With gelly rolls, you can also do a gradient, which will definitely add an extra spark to your pages. It’s pretty easy as well. Start with a lighter color, and then add a darker one. Finally, go back to the lighter color and use it on the area where you want the gradient to be, until you get the result you want.
Another tool you can use are brush pens, specifically the metallic ones. I have some Kuretake Fubebiyori and Karin ones in my stash, but I know you can also find metallic brush pens from Zebra and Kelly Creates. For a budget version, you can check out these ones.
A great discovery was that no matter how juicy the brush pens were, none of them damaged the pages, thanks to the high paper quality.
Brush pens will be a great help in creating headers or coloring large elements in your setups.
For those lines that happen to be thicker than gel pens but thinner than brush pens, you can always go for metallic markers.
I’m afraid the picture doesn’t give them justice though, the Staedtler markers aren’t really that matter and are much shinier. You can see it all better in the pen test video at the end of the post.
Since the paper is 160 GSM most likely you’ll be able to use most of those without worrying about ghosting or bleeding.
I’ve been dreaming of getting my hands on those shiny Kuretake watercolor paints for a long time, and now I finally have a proper excuse to get them.
They look absolutely stunning on the black paper, and it’ll be pretty useful to cover larger parts of the pages with them, rather than using gel pens for example. I must say that the Pearl Colors didn’t look that well, even though they were seen, the color difference wasn’t really clear.
Again, since the paper quality is so outstanding, you don’t need to worry about bleeding through. This paper is truly perfect for going crazy with your watercolors.
Other than that, you can also use acrylic or gouache paints, especially in white. A cool idea would be to use those to draw your daily boxes, so you can just use your black pen on the top.
How To Use The Blackout Book
Now that you figured out what you can use to write in your blackout journal, it’s time to think about how you can actually use it. If you ask me (and I’d be delighted to answer any questions!), you really can use it just like any other notebook. Here are 5 ideas I think might work the best.
It’s a notebook, the paper is thick, the grid is dot grid – this means it’s perfect for a Bullet Journal! Maybe having a blackout journal will be something that reinvigorates your love for bujo if it was wavering.
Granted, it might take a bit longer to do the setups, but they’ll look so very different and awesome that it might totally be worth the pain.
I’d say it’s also absolutely perfect for anyone who loves minimalist Bullet Journal setups – just by playing with white color on the black pages can create some simple, yet stunning effects.
Creating in the black pages sounds like such a fascinating challenge! So why not turn this notebook into a sketchbook or a creative journal.
Think of all the ways you can add a completely new feel to your style and your art just by trying to do it all on black paper.
I don’t know about you, but I’m quite eager and ready to accept this kind of challenge!
Since most of the lettering supplies can write in this journal (at least their metallic counterparts), why not challenging yourself to create beautiful lettering pieces on the black pages?
I know I had loads of fun with this piece and I love how the quote seems to jump out on me from the black page.
Think about it – affirmations are something that needs to be written with a thought and an intention behind them.
Writing with a gel pen on black paper is a more meticulous process than writing the same thing on a white paper. Most likely you will be writing more slowly and repeating the affirmation to yourself quite a few times. I think just that already qualifies the blackout book to be a perfect candidate for an affirmations journal.
What a beautiful memory journal this book would make! You can add bits and pieces of your life, like photos and tickets and such, and if you need to add long texts you can always just glue in some white paper.
I’m sure the blackout book will be a very creative memory journal, which you’ll want to look through over and over again.
The Blackout Journal: Video
Finally, as I promised, here is my little video review of the journal and a huge pen test with all the pens suitable to the blackout book I could find in my stash. Ok ok, some of them I bought specially for this notebook. Don’t tell the hubby.
I’m really loving this journal and the way it pushes me to think outside the box and work with new media. It has everything you’d expect from the good journal and more.
I definitely enjoy a lot the paper quality and not being afraid to use any kind of pens, markers and such.
I don’t think I’d recommend it to a first time Bullet Journalist, but if you’ve been on it for a while, definitely give it a try. It’s so much fun!
I know for sure these journals getting sold out in no time, so make sure you go to Archer and Olive website and sign up for their email list to be always the first to know when the journals are stocked again.
Do you think you would ever use a blackout journal? How would you use it? Let us know in the comments.
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