Why your creative business needs a mood board (and how to make one)
During my teenage years, I hoarded magazines and other bits to create simple mood boards. If I wanted to plan a party or what my “dream” home would look like, I created a mood board for it. This was most often done with poster board, scissors, glue and lots of those magazine pages.
Today, I rely mostly on Pinterest, as I am sure you do as well.
Luckily, our magpie-like need to collect comes in very handy when building a brand. How? By creating one of those mood boards.
A mood board is a collage containing images, text, and other items that create (you guessed it) a mood…something that evokes a feeling is a good way to describe it.
Mood boards can include just about anything — photography, designs or illustrations, color palettes, textures, descriptive words, even pages from your old sketchbooks or ribbons from your crafting stash. The possibilities are endless!
Some artists create a mood board for each individual piece of art. In this case, you’re looking for materials that will help you define your artist’s brand.
Why you need a mood board
Whether you’re just launching your business or rethinking your existing art brand, a mood board can help with:
If you’re still in the process of working out your visual brand identity, a mood board will help bring things into focus, like your vision and the emotions you want your presence to convey.
A mood board acts as a guide to keep you focused on your brand identity when creating your logo, business cards, website, or other marketing materials, as well as your art itself! I see my visual brand as a direct reflection of my art.
A mood board ensures your web designer or anyone else you’re working with on your business understands your brand and your vision right from the start. Even if you are doing your own website, graphics, etc., YOU need to have a vision and direction and it is so much easier when you have a mood board.
So, how do you create your mood board?
First, decide whether you want to pull all your inspiration from online sources and gather it together digitally, or get handy with the scissors and glue and create a physical mood board.
a digital mood board
I love Pinterest for finding inspiration. What’s great about this platform (which is really one great big search engine) is that the collections are already organized for you, making it easier to find and choose images you like. The downside is that there is limited scope when it comes to pinning your images in your preferred layout.
Moodboard helps you organize, create and share mood boards on your iPad for $9.99. Handy tools enable photo editing, pdf and png export and the ability to organize multiple boards. Moodboard Lite is the free version which limits you to just one board.
This digital mood board creator is a big hit with interior designers. It lets you upload your images and organize them into project files that can be shared on social media or imported into documents. Intuitive and easy to use, it’s a great way to get professional results. There is a small fee, but depending on your project(s) you could use it as you need it.
A physical mood board
If you prefer to keep things old-school, you can create a physical mood board that you can actually hold in your hands and hang on your wall. To create one, use a foam board base and a big chunky glue stick, or a double page spread in your art journal.
Source your collections from magazines, newspapers, old books, your own photos, or materials from your art stash - I’m sure you have plenty to choose from!
What should you include?
Who are you and what do you do?
It helps to have a few things in mind before you start:
What do you love?
What are your brand words?
What makes you one-of-a-kind?
What are your core values?
Examples of mine: Reliability, Freedom, Integrity, Faith and Kindness
What do you want to be remembered for?
Examples of mine: Honest, Generous, Helpful, Creative, Smart, Faithful Christian and Reliable
Why I do what I do?
Examples of mine: 1. Desire to share my skills and talents; 2. Flexible schedule and freedom and 3. Brings me joy to help others
Even if you have not answered these questions fully, keep them in mind as you add to your mood board.
Creating a Mood Board will help you plan, organize, strategize and communicate the “feel” and “look” you want to project to your audience/potential client.
This will help you decide on colors, fonts, patterns, etc. Creating a mood board will help you through the design process, which will help pull ideas from a lot of different sources, making your brand more uniquely you!
Think about your audience
Who are they? Millennials or seniors? Married couples or singles? Urban, suburban, or rural residents? Male or female? New crafters or experienced artists? Stitchers? Painters? Coloring book fans?
With them in mind, ask yourself what kind of imagery they might find appealing. What might capture their interest or grab their attention? Collect those images.
The research phase
When you’re first sourcing your imagery, try not to edit too much. This is the phase of creation where you gather and explore brand ideas.
Be as intuitive as you can to start with - don't overthink things. Just go with your gut and pull out things that you respond to visually. Now is not the time to analyze.
Your goal is to gather more images than you’ll really need for the finished board. You’re not done until you’ve found visuals that embody all the important aspects of your brand and your being. Grab the visuals that speak to you most and then move on to the next.
You could include vintage photographs, pages from your sketch books, images from magazines, illustrations, art, words and phrases that embody your brand, textures, patterns and shapes. If you said you want your brand to be crisp and professional, you might choose patterns with strong, clean lines for example. Or if your brand is ethereal and dreamy, include your water color sketches.
Here is a guideline to help you:
3-5 Patterns and textures
5-6 Graphic elements (icons, buttons, symbols, etc.)
5-8 Logo examples, fonts, and typography - look at advertisements…they are great for this.
3-5 Fashion, home decorating, garden inspiration images that represent your style or feel you want to exude.
3-5 Colors that are part of your desired color scheme - these can be samples of single colors, swatches, or other images that feature a color combination you love.
The editing phase
Once you have a large pile of clippings you can start to edit. Really challenge what you selected and ask yourself what it adds to your visual story.
Expect to throw out about 70% of the bits you originally shortlisted for a really well edited and concise board.
If you are creating a digital board, go through your board and make sure you have a cohesive feel/story/color and eliminate anything that does not fit. Be sure you have items represented from all the above categories and try to bring your number of images down to about 30-35.
Next, separate yourself from it for a few days and come back. Eliminate until you have about 20 images.
Last, pair it down to 10 perfect images that you feel best represents your brand.
Having trouble? Ask questions:
Do I need more color?
How does it feel? What words come to mind?
Does the feel match my brand words?
Is it too feminine, masculine, etc?
Does it need more pattern or texture?
Have I included bits of my own art?
The collation phase
When you have your final images, it’s time to start pulling them together. Pull out the key themes that define your brand and work around them.
With every image, make sure you are clear on why you are including it - be discerning. If you get stuck, Have a friend look at it and give their feedback. It helps to have another set of eyes on it.
How to choose colors and fonts that fit:
Colors instantly convey feelings. Defining the palette you want to work with on your mood board will help you to create a consistent look and feel for your brand.
You might find there are dominant colors that keep leaping out at you from your collected images. Or maybe you’ve created a board with lots of white space.
If you said you want your brand to be very natural and down-to-earth, dark leafy green tones could come through in your board. Think about whether your colors should be be warm or cool, muted or bold.
You’ll want to choose four or fewer main colors. It’s a good idea to pick one light color for backgrounds, a darker color for text, a neutral hue and also one that pops.
My Brand Colors
Different fonts help you convey a message too.
If you want your brand to be seen as whimsical and fun, choosing a decorative font might be for you. Or perhaps a font with lots of structure would work best for your brand.
A handy rule to remember is that Serif fonts like Times New Roman convey a classic, high-end brand, whereas Sans Serif convey strength, clarity, and a modern, clean look.
Maybe you find your inspiration from your own art and create a script that is perfectly you. Using paint brushes, pens, calligraphy or even charcoal, you can create a font that is totally unique.
Once you’ve finished your mood board print it out and stick it somewhere in your studio or artist’s space where you can admire it as often as possible.
Now when you’re creating social media posts, making changes to your website, or ordering business cards, look at your mood board to ensure everything is consistent with your own unique artist brand.
Ready to give it a go?
Let me know how you get on with your mood board. Where did you source your inspiration? Are you a digital or a hands on sort of person? Just have fun with it!!