Journals of Tim Girvin

Since the mid 1990’s graphic designer Tim Girvin has used the journal as an expression of the daily journey, the jour, the hour’s meditations. These contemplations have helped him to get through challenges and to look for ways of exploring his creativity first for his own journey through the meandering labyrinth of time, and secondly, to find again the images upon which his heart opens. There are threads that lead us through our lives, by looking carefully, listening for the notes, the “chords” of this music that represent the symphony of living…. These reflections relate to the practice of living and integrating the strategies and tactics of life and its relation to the working practice we all try to balance with our lives, a fulcrum of the implicit and the explicit.

Here are pages from two of his journals, offering that the journal is also something for you to explore, to wander through your daily thoughts and to set these in the merest reflections: a sentence, a paragraph or multiple pages. Free your thoughts in writing with sketches and interpretations of your feelings, and in the end, some benefit will come of the explorations.

I wander and wonder, I explore and examine, I gather and hold — I look to today, I look back… and I don’t stare. That was that, this is now…. —Tim Girvin

integcoverIntegrations is about an examination of wholeness — what makes something whole (or filling a hole, perhaps!). The cover is a swirling of symbolic gestures; it’s about the circle, the finishing stroke running through it, the knot stroke of the double 8 — each laying over the other, in transparency. Contentment — making content: wholeness. So for me, it’s about reflecting on the nature of the integer — the whole number, the filled and whirling space of experience. But any journal is about what comes — and your observations and contemplations of it. To create any kind of life collage — the melange of being — you’ve got to gather it up, assemble it, play with it. Then, perchance, you will come back to it, for further introspection. Or you might merely leave it — it’s done, you’ve wandered about the landscape of your experience and now you move onwards, to the next opening.

8coverThe 8 journal is about infinity and the endless path, the circling and returning, the winding cloth of our experience. It starts, it stops; it begins anew. And any journal that I make is somehow thematically exploring a series of images and ideas. Where these come from… mind and meditation, linked to the hand and the tool to explore these effluents. Flex: flow. And any journal that I make is about giving the cover a kind of icon, or symbology — what is captivating at present, the Now.

girvinWhen I approach the conclusion of the year, the beginning of another, there are two things happening. For one, I’m tuning in, and turning out, and finishing the gatherings of the last year, in the space of the 12 months that is roughly the time space of the larger journals. Meanwhile, during this yearly stint, I will be experimenting with other smaller journals that might have a more directed and individual focus. Such as: one sentence — the entire book, front to back.

But in finishing one journal — the journal of the year, I’m sorting back and forth, through it. I might have a loose sense of chronological calibration, but in reality — it is only that, a gathering.

And really, that’s what the journals are. Gatherings — they are nestings of patternings and observations that come up and go, and are brought together, in those pages. Moreover, I might have a thought from one year that I pick up in another year, or I have an image that I’ve found in one year but don’t get to until the next. And finally, during the course of the year I will be adding to and creating more content on the pages. Might be one bold piece of writing, to begin, then an image, then a drawing, then more finer writing, later. So really, a journal is an overlay of ideas, that are randomly sorted during the course of 12 months.

I have imagery in my journal now for this year that I won’t get to for months, yet it’s already placed, out there, in the further pages. I’ll be thinking about it, what I think about it, what it means — and it is there, waiting….

— Tim Girvin, May 2005


Tim Girvin is recognized internationally as a designer, writer, illustrator, and calligrapher, and has spoken all over the world on issues affecting business communications, branding, corporate identity, and incorporating emotional and complete sensory content in all aspects of marketing.

His Seattle design firm (Girvin, Inc.) has earned an international reputation as one of the finest design firms on the West coast. Clients include Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Estée Lauder, Sprite, Nabisco, CBS, Bellagio Hotel, and United Way. His logos for films include Apocalypse Now, Braveheart, The Matrix, Sleepy Hollow, The Firm, Glory, and Dances with Wolves. Visit his blog at for more writings about branding, calligraphy, and design.

TheScreamOnline has also featured his extensive film work here.