Curating Online Mood Boards

Thursday, May 26, 2011 8:12
Posted by Claire Menegus in category Crafty Inspiration

A Mood Palette composed in PhotoShop by graphic designer and blogger Miss Moss (please see a link and more information below)

Summoning design inspiration can sometimes seem as impossible as tapping maple syrup from a wooden park bench. Other times, a project might be floundering like a goldfish on a carpet from lack of vision or direction. Wondering where your recent obsession with Steampunk can take your designs? A mood board might help provide a visual outline or map.

Mood Boards are one way for designers to compile thoughts and kickstart creative thinking. Though many might dismiss them as “fancy collages”, they have their root in professional design practices. Mood Boards have long been used by fashion, interior and graphic designers to visually communicate project visions or concepts to clients.  On the show Mad Men, for example, Don Draper’s advertising team often presents the brilliance of their Lucky Strike campaign pitches through illustrative and catchy mood boards; other times they’re seen brainstorming and collecting thoughts on design boards in their office (all while swilling large quantities of brandy).  Fashion and interior architecture students are sometimes required to submit mood boards that include color samples, swatches of fabric, and images of other designs as inspiration before they can start a project. Think of it as a regrouping of ideas, an outline, or an “all systems go” before a project fully launches.

If you’re eager to casually poke around with some design ideas, the web  has a lot of cataloguing, curating and instantaneous mood boarding platforms to offer you:

Pinterest is a great site for user-sourced curation, and because of  the community of people connecting and sharing their own finds. A user can “pin” anything that catches their eye while browsing the web using the Pinterest bookmarklet– be it a photo, pair of shoes, or individual graphic from a webpage. Pinterest saves that item as a mini square screen shot to your Pin Boards (kind of like digital mood boards),  where users group the items they pin. Users can also follow one another, and comment on or “like” Pins. Pinterest doesn’t work as well for cataloguing web content or blog posts. It also has 0 privacy settings.

Stixy provides a virtual online collage board where  graphics, documents, todos and notes can be moved and posted like items in a scrap book. They can be resized, flipped, and dragged which allows for more creative license than on Pinterest or other sites. Stixy users can send their boards via email, or invite others to view their designs. This would be a wonderful tool to use when creating an interactive mood board for a specific project. Stixy boards, however, can’t be downloaded and sent as files.

Zootool is another online “visual bookmarking” platform, like Pinterest, that lets you tag and catalogue finds. On Zootol users can grab entire web pages or just specific items, images or videos. Users can follow and favorite users and finds, like on Pinterest, which adds a community dynamic to the platform. Zootool also has privacy settings, in case you’re saving research on top secret blog posts, or just presents your boyfriend might like for his birthday.

If you’re eager to send a moodboard as a file or to post it on a blog, Photoshop might be your software of choice. It also allows for image resizing, overlapping and other manipulations that screen capturing directly from a website, ala Pinterest or Zootool, won’t allow you to do. I think everyone on the internet is in love with the mood boards by Miss Moss, done in Photoshop, which I’ve included above.

Looking for inspiration for inspiration? Check out this Flickr group dedicated to Mood and Inspiration Boards!

How do you feel about Inspiration Boards? Do you find them cheesy or useful? Do you use any of the websites above, and if so, which is your favorite? Please talk amongst yourselves below!

Photo: Claire Menegus

About Claire Menegus

Claire Menegus is an aspiring writer who’s interests intersect at business, design, cheesecake baking and her self-proclaimed nerdy fascination with the internet and new media. Her creative impulses change almost daily — from making home made liqueurs to sewing to book binding, though her life-long obsessions have been cooking and baking. Growing up in a household of artists, she feels passionate about supporting independent creators, and speculates that handmade goods and small business could be the new and improved economy of the future. Claire loves to talk! Contact her at claire[at]hellocraft[dot]com.

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  • Annching@Parker+Muse

    Great list! Those web tools make it so easy now to create mood boards. When I was in design school, we had to use good ole Photoshop. 

  • Renee

    A bit late on the comment as I just found your site. Love it. Here’s another link you and your readers might enjoy.

  • Darlenekoppel
  • Graphic Design Quotes

    wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little
    bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post