A lot of people struggle with the beginning stages of projects that require any sort of visual aesthetics. Creating a mood board has been a tried and true method for creating a visual style, or getting a good start to any project. This is useful if you’re a professional interior designer, photographer, artist, or event planner. Or maybe you’re a DIY party decorator, small business owner creating your own store, or mom decorating your baby’s room. Either way, having a way to visually accumulate and document the goals you are aiming for will bring clarity to your ideas, and a way to share and communicate what you are seeking.
“…having a way to visually accumulate and document the goals you are aiming for will bring clarity to your ideas, and a way to share and communicate what you are seeking.”
Start with One
Let’s get started! I’ve found that a good mood board usually comes from one piece of inspiration. Start with the one thing that tickles your fancy. For me, it’s usually with some great photography, but for you it might be a piece of fabric or some artwork.
I’m creating a mood board for a new office space. Having an inspiring and exciting area to work in is very important to me. I know I want it to be bold and mostly neutral colors, however I want it to be warm and a little playful with a pop of color.
I found this photograph by edwardkb and I loved the warm orange hues as well as the contrast between the white lights and the dark black shadows. I can definitely use this as a starting point.
Find More Pieces to Make a Cohesive Mood Board
Next up, describe what feelings or imagery this piece inspires. Seek out other pieces that have a similar theme, look, colors, tones, textures, or complimentary elements. Remember that inspiration is everywhere. Take photos with your smartphone, get some carpet samples from Home Depot, grab that stick from the backyard. The key is to focus intently on your original piece and ideas to curate a group of elements that relay a visual style.
“…focus intently on your original piece and ideas to curate a group of elements that relay a visual style.”
For the original photo I chose, I might say “modern, warm, soft, bold, spacious, contrasting, patterns and grids, orange, spacious, calculated.”
It is okay to be literal, and since I’m looking to revamp my office area I’ll add some photos of great spaces. However, having more diverse sources of inspiration will open me up to being more creative and inventive with the space. I don’t want to just copy someone else’s ideas. I want to gather an eclectic collection of sources that can lead to original ideas. I love this work area as photographed by Petra Bindel. I chose this because it keeps those warmer tones and has many bold black and white contrasting elements, such as a black frame on a white wall, or the black and white typographic poster.
Gather All Your Elements
Now go out into the world and find all of your inspiration! Scour the web, use whatever keywords you can think of. Go for a walk. Watch a movie. Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram are great for finding amazing photos and searching tags. One of my favorite resources for finding design centered inspiration is Designspiration.net.
All that is left is to keep adding, changing, taking away, improving, and playing until you’ve exhausted your resources. Arrange all of these elements in one space. You can do this electronically by throwing images into a document, or maybe uploading and saving all of these elements to a pinterest board or blog.
Here’s a variety of images I found that I thought fit in with this mood I was going for, I tried to find a plethora of images ranging from paintings to furniture, to advertisements and stairways.
You can definitely create a physical mood board, a lot of people love the idea of being able to psychically pin up your ideas. Either way you do it, find a way to keep your creation in easy view. And that’s about it. At this point you should have a mood board that you can share and use as a tool to communicate your ideas with others, or to remind yourself of what you are aiming for.
Finally, here is my finished mood board thats been cleaned up and narrowed down. I hope you learned a little about coming up with your own creative style with a mood board. This can be an extremely helpful tool in any project and a way to communicate with other designers or visual artists. Now go and make something sweet!