Here’s Why You Should Build a Mood Board Before Your Next Creative Project

Inspiration Board

Stock Photos from Netrun78/Shutterstock

One of the hardest parts about starting any project, whether it's art, design, or photography, is deciding how it'll look. What is your creative vision? How will you communicate that vision to others? Maybe you're trying to figure that out for yourself or you have to share your ideas with others. Whatever the case, there's one tool that can help—a mood board.

What is a mood board?

A mood board, or inspiration board, is a collection of ideas expressed through images. The elements included on a mood board (be it analog or digital) should offer insight into your visual influences and vision for a project. Color, texture, photography, and illustration are just some of the possibilities for them, and these details are often arranged as a single composition.


Here’s why you should keep an inspiration board.

If you’re willing to invest the time, a mood board can be a powerful creative tool for both personal endeavors or at the behest of a client (or team).


What is a Mood Board

Stock Photos from Mooncy /Shutterstock


A mood board helps distill the ideas you have in your head.

We’re bombarded by countless images each and every day—our influences and inspirations know no bounds. While that’s an exciting prospect, this can make it challenging when you’re trying to hone in on a few ideas for a project. By putting different design elements together and seeing how they work, you can make decisions on creative direction. And since you’re doing all this before you even begin a project, you’ll have the most important aspects figured out before you get too deep and it’s harder to make changes.


Inspiration Board

Stock Photos from Efetova Anna/Shutterstock


If you’re working with a client or as part of a team, a mood board helps others to see what you’re thinking.

Communication is key for any successful project. A mood board is a device that will help people understand what they can visually expect and the essence of what you’re trying to achieve with a project. It can open lines of dialogue—does your vision fit with what others are thinking? If not, perhaps your selection of images will educate and inform them so that everyone is on the same page.


Above all—making a mood board is fun!

How many times have you looked at a photograph or artwork and found it inspire new ways of thinking? In sifting through images, chances are that you’ll be provided with influences you didn’t even realize you needed. Finding inspiration and putting it together is exciting—there so many possibilities—and fun.

It shouldn’t be a chore to make a mood board. If you’re not having fun building your inspiration board, ask yourself why. Perhaps this means you need to reconsider the direction for your chosen project.


Next: Tips for building a mood board and where you can create your own. 

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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