Feeling uninspired? Stuck in a rut? We’ve all been there and know how hard it is to get back in the swing of things. Whether you’re working on a project, writing an article or designing a catalog, a mood board is one of the tried-and-tested methods that is often underrated, but which has the great ability to get your creative juices flowing.
What is a mood board?
Mood boards can mean different things to different people especially because you can use them in two ways: to draw inspiration from and to help you better present a project or an idea to others. Therefore, a mood board (also known as inspiration board) is a physical or digital collage of ideas that is commonly used in a variety of fields, such as fashion, interior design, art and so on. Or as some would say, a mood board is a collection of images, colors and fonts that perfectly defines what a project is about. It can include a variety of things, such as photos, illustrations, cutouts, color palettes, textures, words and really anything that helps you define the direction of your project.
The DO’s and DON’Ts
When it comes to creating a mood board, there aren’t any specific or exact rules you must follow. It really depends well, on the ‘mood’. Either the one you’re in or the one that you wish to give others. That being said, here are some tips that help you create a great mood board and also some things you might want to avoid.
Browse for inspiration in real life
Whether you take a stroll in the park, go to the grocery store or look out of the window, potential inspiration is literally everywhere. You just need to keep an active eye for your surroundings and you will be amazed by how much interesting stuff your sight can catch. Use the camera on your phone to take pictures of everything you see that inspires you, whether that is an interesting building, a cool sign, a catchy billboard and the list can go on. They don’t have to be great photos – it’s all about capturing thoughts, themes and feelings.
DON’T: Rely just on digital inspiration even if you do decide to create a digital mood board. No matter if you go for digital or physical, real world inspiration is all around us so why not take advantage of that?!
Curate what you include
Think of yourself as an art curator and of your mood board as an exhibition. Your mood board needs to ‘touch’ people and give them a cocktail of emotions, better understanding, new views and emotions. Keep in mind that your mood board should tell a story, and try to introduce substance and threads from one image to another rather than just scatter them with no purpose at all. This way everything on your mood board is nicely tied up and makes for an easier interpretation.
DON’T: Copy. When dealing with much material to choose from, it can all get quite overwhelming for you and easy to slip down the plagiarism path. However, doing this won’t help you create a true mood board for yourself, it will just make you give other people’s vision about certain things. So see these materials as an inspiration rather than as your final work.
Choose a style
But before choosing a style, you have to decide whether you go digital or physical. Think about which method would best fit your theme and what you’re trying to express. Digital mood boards are easy to create and present, but nothing can beat the weight of a physical board as it can bring a sense of reality into the project. As for the actual structure and style, you need to determine whether you want to go for a clean lines, with borders that separate perfectly arranged pictures or you would much rather make a collage that mixes everything together? Whatever it is that you choose, just make sure you stick with a single layout. Otherwise, instead of being a source of inspiration, your mood board could turn into a source of confusion.
DON’T: Leave unnecessary blank spaces as it can look unfinished. And if you do choose to use borders in your mood board, make sure to measure how equal they all are.
Focus on one theme
Choosing one unifying style for your design can give you a visual theme to work from and make your concept look more pulled together. Once you pick a theme, you can make your ideas clear and it’s much easier to get across the right vibe. The color palette is also an important design choice that backups your theme so it has to be in accordance with it. A good tip to make clear what the theme of your mood board is, would be to focus on a larger image and built the rest of the board around it.
DON’T: Be too literal. A mood board is meant to describe a mood, so you shouldn’t only show items that are directly connected to your theme. Remember that a theme can be translated also by using suggestive textures and visuals which are not necessarily linked to the subject of your mood board.
Add the right text
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I couldn’t agree more. However, adding a few words and strategically place them can not only better support your theme, but also enhance the visual aspect of your mood board. Well-chosen words can be powerful tools as they can create the tone and provide a meaning to the pictures you’ve added to your mood board.
DON’T: Neglect typography and fonts. If you decide to add some text to your mood board, then your choice of font will also matter. Think of some original fonts out there that would work well with your design and also a style for your text that ties everything nicely together.
Experiment and have fun
This whole process of creating mood boards should be something you enjoy doing. It’s supposed to spark ideas and get a perspective on different subjects. So be creative and have fun with it!
DON’T: Limit yourself. Don’t be afraid to experiment and let your mind go loose. Just because others have done things in a certain way, doesn’t mean you have to do it, too. You’re your own master and you get to decide what works and what doesn’t for your project.
As I like to say, mood boards help you awaken your creative buds so that you have an inspiration source. On the other hand, they help others ‘get inside your head’ as they show your intended vision for a piece of work. And while for some they may seem as a waste of time, they’re actually helpful tools that can help you turn a blurred idea into something well-defined.