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Where to Find Junk Journal Ephemera and Printables for Free

Junk Journal

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If you’ve already started making junk journals, you’re probably quickly going through paper pads, books and other paper goods around your home. You might already be a frequent visitor to your local craft store, and you’ve probably figured out there are lots of gorgeous junk journal kits and printables on Etsy.

But you’re probably also excited to find free stuff whenever you can. There’s lots of great resources to find free junk journal ephemera and printables – you just have to know where to look.

(Transparency note: I often link to resources in my blog posts and these are sometimes affiliate links. That means if you choose to purchase through my links, I may make a small commission through no extra charge to you. You can read more in my privacy and disclosure policy.)


Creative Market – Free Goods

Creative Market is probably my favorite resource out there for creating my own junk journal graphics, or just finding backgrounds and vintage ephemera. Not to mention gorgeous historic fonts. I love it so much that there’s hardly a week that goes by that I don’t get something there. It’s better than a trip to the craft store, honestly. I mean, look at this one:

And they have dozens and dozens more  beautiful and affordable collections you can purchase… But that’s not even the best part.

Creative Market also has an incredibly awesome free resource – the “free goods” section of their website. Each Monday, they release 6 of their collections for free! Completely free, and there are a new 6 each week. I’ve already gotten some gorgeous illustrations and fonts as a part of this that I’ve been using in my journals.

All you have to do is sign up for an account and download them. They’ll sit in your “purchases” box so you can access them whenever you need them. Best of all, you can use them in personal projects and projects to sell. So no worrying about the details like you sometimes have to with Etsy.  If you haven’t signed up for an account with them, give it a try. In my experience, it’s definitely worth it.

You can check out this week’s free goods here:


Powered by Creative Market

If you don’t know about Graphics Fairy, you’re about to be incredibly excited. The site has tons of free vintage images and ephemera. Much of it is completely free to use, and the site has definitely embraced junk journalers as they regularly put out junk journal content, and even feature junk journalers on their site.

They also have a membership upgrade that gets you access to their entire library of vintage bundles, textures, and laces. All for use in your projects, journals and more. I’ve used their graphics in my own journals and printables, and I really love them.



The quality here is hit or miss as the graphics are free and generally designed for use on the web rather than for high quality printables. But, there’s still plenty of beautiful collages and backgrounds that you can incorporate into your designs and journals if you’re willing to spend some time looking around and searching.

The images on Pixabay are held under a Creative Commons license which isn’t Public Domain, but still gives you a lot of freedom for your creativity. Make sure you read more on it before incorporating them into your designs though.

New York Public Library – Digital Collections – Public Domain Picks

The NYPL has been fantastic enough to not only make large portions of their collection digital, but have also been kind enough to flag portions that are part of the public domain. I’ve found lots of gems here from sheet music to menus to gorgeous medieval prints.

Honestly, I just get lost for what seems like hours paging through the collections and saving things I think I might use. Best of all since these resources are scanned to archival standards, they are available in a variety of sizes including high resolution tiffs which makes them perfect for printing.


Wikimedia Commons

The use licenses at Wikimedia Commons vary from public domain to various iterations of the CC license, so you’ll have to read carefully for each image as you come across them. While you generally won’t find the kind of picture-perfect gorgeous prints you might on other options listed here, there are still lots of beautiful photos and vintage advertisements that you might find worth putting in your journal.

Compass & Ink Resource Library

The VIP member resource library here at Compass & Ink is small but growing. I regularly upload vintage ephemera, bonus pages from the printable kits I sell, and background images to help make your journaling easier.  To get access to them, you just need to join. It’s free! And you get access to our newsletter where you’ll get junk journal news and tips straight to your inbox as well as access to the library.



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  1. I’m a senior citizen.I barely can understand how to use my phone.I don’t have a computer to print your ideas.do I have to have a computer.

    1. Hi Lyn! You don’t necessarily need a computer, but you would need a printer and a phone that can connect to a printer to do it at home. The other option would be to go to a local printing place or an office supply store. They’re often able to help you print documents, though they will charge you for the prints. Another option might be a local library if they have color printers and someone who can help you!

      1. Hey Lyn Powell and Megan from March 2019! As for accessing and printing, go to your Public Library. We have a small library with great librarians here in Port Huron, Michigan. All you need is a Library Card and you can deposit money onto your Library Card for printing. If I need a crisp color print, I go to the Library to print it. Many times I will email the things I want to print to myself, go to the Library and open my emails, and go to the links I emailed to myself. Quick, easy, link, print, done. I have taken my own cardstock to the Library, and depending on the Librarian, have had her load it into the printer to print on.
        With the virus encouraging self-quarantine, now would be a good time to start emailing yourself so when the Libraries are up and running again, you can print, print, print!
        Take care everyone, prayers from Port Huron, Michigan, at the International Border with Canada.

  2. Thanks for sharing these are great resources. And I’m with you about the NY public library. I just found them and can spend way to much time there looking through all they have to offer.

  3. Thanks very much for the share. It’s a great help. I just finished doing a video of my first junk journal yesterday and it’s – A Boy’s Junk Journal. I find i have more or less gone in the direction you have stated in your posts. I’m happy to find I’m no longer in the dark 😀
    My next project is a shabby chic/ food chic/ tropical chic/ vintage chic/ witchery chic art and writing journal for a girl and I’m all excited. You’re a great help.
    I depend on the local printing shop which is the best one from a plethora of print shops over where I live. I find myself really lucky in this:D

  4. Hello,
    i came to your site by accident, you used some of my vintage pictures for your very informative report. I am very happy when I see in this way how and in which context my pictures are used. 🙂

    Although I’m also at Pixabay and upload my pictures exclusively under CC0 (it’s in the “about me”), I also have my own website with even more free vintage pictures. Also free of charge! There they are in higher quality, because the system does not download them.

    By the way, I also love the NY library and can spend hours there. My harddisk will soon burst at the seams… 😉 I publish a lot of interesting pictures and upload them either prepared as PNG on my site or I make new backgrounds (like this one on your site) for people who are not so good with image editing or just don’t feel like it. 😉

    You are also welcome to browse my website darkworkx.de. I would be glad about visits there.
    It’s all in german language, but I’m sure everybody will find the Vintage section… 🙂

    Have fun with your project and all the best.

    Dorothe aka DarkWorkX

  5. I am very interested in trying to make junk journals and general scrapbooks. It seems you can download tons of printable ephemera. Does this take massive amounts of ink I r would it be better to purchase the image ie picture, printed paper with flowers for an example already printed for you.

    1. Hi Joan! You can definitely go through ink quickly printing your own ephemera! There’s a couple ways to help with the use of ink – I upgraded my printer to a tank printer (You can see a post I wrote about it here: https://compassandink.com/best-printers-for-printables) The ink for those printers comes in bottles, lasts much longer and is much much cheaper than using a traditional printer/cartridge. I’m on year two and I’ve only gone through 1 1/2 bottles of each kind of ink and I print ALOT. If printing ephemera is something you love to do, I highly recommend getting one. Next, if you like purchasing Etsy kits you’ll find more and more shops are offering “ink savers” where they have white backgrounds. You can print them on cream card stock and they’ll still have that vintage look without using tons of your yellow ink. And finally, yes it can be super helpful to balance your printing with purchasing some of your ephemera as well!

    2. What I do is compile all my images onto a documents using google drawings so I can get them really close together. Then I go to my local library and print it out for 10 cents. Idk about other place but I think most library’s have printers you can use. It saves me alot of money in ink even though it is slightly less convenient.

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