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What is a mood board? (...and why you need one!)

Updated: May 15

Importance of Moodboard

What is a Mood Board?

In the world of fashion print design, a mood board serves as both a guide and a visual representation of the creative vision and narrative, or story.

A mood board is a visual collage that encapsulates the essence, mood, and aesthetic direction of a design project. It's a curated collection of images, textures, colours, and other visual elements carefully selected to evoke a specific feeling or convey a particular concept. Think of it as a visual roadmap that sets the tone and establishes the visual language for your design journey.

You can use Pinterest to source and collect the imagery, but I would suggest designing a fresh new mood board in Canva, Illustrator, or Photoshop. (Heck, you can use Google Slides or Word if you want. It doesn't really matter.)

What matters is that it's tight, easy to understand, cohesive, and sets a clear tone for the direction you are going for.

Mood boards can be used for so many things! Brand design, website design, fashion design, textile design, and so forth. Basically, if you are designing something, you will likely start here first.

What to include in a mood board?

Do you have a specific colour palette that you love? Add it on there. A word or quote that sparks your imagination? You can add that too! Sometimes I find a location shot, a portrait of a muse that I'm inspired by, or vintage fabric swatches great to use. Be creative as you like! Just make sure that you use the best imagery that you can find that represents your idea.

Why I ask for mood boards before starting a project:

When meeting and working with new clients, one of the first things I ask is whether or not they have any reference images or mood boards. Being prepared with one or more will not only give me a clear understanding of your brand message but also help define the overall vibe of the sort of print collection you are seeking. 

Not only does it become a visual launching pad for good ideas, but a mood board can also serve as a style guide. By constantly referring back to a mood board, any designs developed will stay in line with the original concept, ensuring the end result is on point.

Moodboard example

Mood board tips:

Keep it cohesive and concise. If you say, wanted a collection based on a jungle theme and want to see some leopard print in the final design - you can just add one really good image of a leopard. No need to add another image of a leopard skin texture, or that leopard print blouse you've been dying to replicate. One image is enough! Then you can focus on using other quality images to convey your message.

Oh, and don't forget about the word 'mood'! This is about an emotional response or feeling, so it does not have to be too literal either. By honing in on the elements that resonate most strongly with the creative vision, designers can streamline the decision-making process and ensure that every design choice contributes to the overall coherence of the final product.

In conclusion

A good quality mood board has the power to inspire, articulate, and solidify ideas, enabling the designer to create prints that leave a lasting impression on the fashion landscape. So, the next time you embark on a new design project, don't forget to let your mood board be your guide.

Happy mood boarding!




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