Artist’s Loft is a budget friendly art supply brand available at the Michael’s Arts & Crafts stores and online. They make a little bit of everything including brushes, easels, watercolor sketchbooks, and (as I recently discovered) dot grid A5(ish) journals. Although I wasn’t shopping for one at the time, on my last trip through I couldn’t help myself from picking up a new book. At five dollars each, I wasn’t expecting much in terms of quality, but I figured it was worth finding out at that price.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Artist’s Loft Dot Journal and see if it’s even in the same game as the higher cost notebooks on the market.
(Just a side note here. I’m going to be making more than a few comparisons to Leuchtturm1917’s A5 book in this review. If you have not used that brand before, you can see my thoughts on it here.)
The Artist’s Loft journal is pretty standard looking on the surface. It features 249 pages of 80gsm white paper in either dot grid, graph grid, or standard ruling. The hard cover is available in a variety of colors to suit your personal preference. although the journal looks to be about in line with standard A5 measurements (5.71 by 8.27 in.), it’s actually a little larger at 6 by 8 inches even. Unfortunately this means that, if you prefer to keep your notebooks protected with leather or fabric covers, it might be difficult to find an exact fit.
The front and back covers are slightly thicker than the Leuchtturm1917 A5 notebook, and have a slight textured feel. If you have ever used a Moleskine hardcover notebook, the texture on this cover may feel familiar to you. Borrowing a few more notes from Leuchtturm, the notebook also has two thread bookmarks built in, as well as a four page index at the start. In a noticeable departure from the brand this seemingly seeks to replicate, the book does not include any page numbers and does not have a pocket on the back interior cover.
When checking online, the paper is listed as 80gsm, which is the same as Leuchtturm’s listed paper weight. The paper is a clean and bright white, akin to your run-of-the-mill copy paper. The paper is smooth, but not coated. In writing, you’ll get a pretty smooth experience with most pens. There is very little feedback, and writing with a medium nib is just as smooth as an extra fine.
Unfortunately the paper falls short when it comes to performance with fountain pen ink. While a little bleed through on the back of the page is to be expected with this weight of paper, the front has a few challenges with feathering. In my baseline tests, I used inks from Robert Oster, Lamy, Diamine, Noodler’s, Monteverde, and Pelikan Edelstein with a range of nibs from Extra Fine to Medium. While they did not all feather to the same degree, there is enough there from multiple ink brands that I would not give this a Fountain Pen Friendly rating. Even with the heavier rollerball ink in the Schmidt P8126 refill shows through on the opposite side.
That said, Robert Oster and Monteverde inks performed the best with very little feathering and minimal bleed. While a little show through not surprising for most fountain pen users, it is absolutely a point of consideration when shopping for a notebook. So keep that in mind when making your final decision.
So, is it worth it?
I do have a few quality concerns about the longevity of the notebook. The cover seems to be bowing out before I’ve filled a single page, and there are one or two loose spots on the binding where the cover isn’t fully glued down.
With those minor issues in mind, for five dollars, it’s going to be difficult for anyone to turn this down. If you have a Michael’s store locally, you may want to dig through the stacks a little to spot any of those QC concerns I mentioned earlier. Otherwise, they are currently available online for the same low price. If you’re looking for a new journal, or your youngsters want to journal like you, or you just want your D&D group to have matching logbooks (that’s me), these notebooks are a great find.
Check out the Artist’s Loft Dot Journal at Michael’s.
Disclaimer: The product in this review was purchased by The Poor Penman for the purpose of review and to feed the addiction. All opinions stated are those of the author.