I was hoping to write this article for the etsy storque...but they haven't gotten back to me, so...I'm taking things into my own hands. I hope to post more how-to's in the future!
This summer, the 'inspiration board' was all the rage on blogs like decor8 and style me pretty. I was thrilled to see something that has long been a tool for designers reaching into the craft/handmade community. I loved reading the articles, and looking at the boards people submitted, so, I wanted to contribute in my own way with a how-to on creating inspiration boards that are not only beautiful, but also useful.
Inspiration boards (I call them feelboards or moodboards) are something I have used for a long time in the 'design discovery' phase for clients. They serve as a guide not only to kickstart the creative/design process, but also to remind, as that process branches out, what the core ideas are. They are like a compass, helping you be sure that you are going in the intended direction. Above, you can see a few of my inspirations...what I am using currently, and used to create the new susyjack* website and identity.
Daily, we see so much that sitting down to create one's own work can feel a little bit like fighting through the weeds with a machete. That's where feelboards come in: combining materials, images, and words which map the terrain and guide us through!
Spend some quiet time thinking about what's been on your mind lately. What's popped out at you? What's made you say 'wow' during your day to day. Some people find it's helpful to carry around a digital camera, sketchbook, or to keep a list of moments where they encountered something that really 'spoke' to them. These are moments of inspiration, as quick as they may be! Capture them.
Make a list of what feelings, things or qualities you were drawn in by. Just keep it loose...don't censor yourself. Maybe it's words like, 'nature, beauty, children, happiness' or 'relaxation, calmness, soothing' or 'colorful, unique, freedom'. It could be any combination of words which remind you of what sang to you.
Imagery, Textures, Objects:
Over a week or so, collect images and objects that you feel correspond with your inspirations. These may be images which you seek out, or, they could be images which already have a place in your heart. These are your 'compass' images. Don't worry about whether they match, or whether they include your friends or family...These are just for you. Each one should have special meaning, and be true to what you notice in life...not just what's in style, but what you feel has meaning and calls out to you.
Begin combining the images. Don't glue them down right away, but move them around on a board. Which combinations work for you? Why? Use the process as a tool for thinking more about what you are enjoying visually. When a certain couple of images get together, does it make you feel excited? Good! That means it's working. Don't forget your words....make sure that they make it in there. Looking and reading will simultaneously re-enforce your inspiring ideas.
Remember: It's okay to take your time. I've worked in design studios where we worked on feelboards for a couple of weeks...and it was worth the wait, they were precise, inspiring and communicative. The process is part of revealing what you are really getting at. The point is not to create perfection, but to reveal a unique vision...yours.
When you think you've got a palette that is working, make it permanent. Stick those images down, and hang up your board in your workspace. When you get flummoxed, go grab a snack, take a break, then come back and look at your board. Use it as a jumping off point...or, take a look at your work and double-check that it's going in the direction that your board/compass expresses. This is especially helpful when you're creating a collection and have multiple pieces to create and develop.
Taking it Further:
Mood Boards are not only useful for interior design and things visual; they can be extremely helpful as a tool for self-discovery. I have seen people create moodboards for everything from figuring out a new career to planning their next vacation. A successful moodboard transcends style and communicates. It has meaning over time. Mood Boards are also really useful to bring along if you are pitching a product, showing inspiration to a client, explaining your process and ideas, or creative directing someone (for example, if you are hiring someone to do your website or photography).
Keeping it going:
I have folders in which I put images I feel are really calling out to me, both in my space, and on my hard drive. Every now and then, I ramble through and remind myself what I liked about them, and they make a great source for new ideas. If you find an image that you really enjoy, but it doesn't fit with your current vein of thinking, save it. You never know, it could come in handy when you're planning your next collection or idea! Or, if you don't feel like getting out the glue, try shelving it. This can be a great, quick, and flexible way to show off your creative favorites.
For more on inspiration boards, check out these blogs and tutorials:
decor8's styleboard contest winnners from last summer's competition...the winner is a must-see, love the way she has used the folder as a background
style me pretty inspiration board contest
ihanna's article on building a reusable frame for pinning up your ideas.
bella dia's series mood boards on her blog
absolutely beautiful things makes frequent use of moodboards in her interior design work.
Abigail Beal has written a VERY basic tutorial on making a mood board-- what materials you might want to have around etc
inspiration boards group on flickr...where I found a bunch of great examples, including ways of creating change-able boards with clips, frames and shelves! Check out the fantastic sculptures/collages of Lisa Temple Cox while you're there!
UPDATE! I realized there's a link I forgot...if you don't have time to do any of the above...or, just need a way to get yourself started, you can always download the design for mankind ezine. The third issue is out as of yesterday!
Well, I really hope this was useful. I certainly have enjoyed writing it. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions, or to show off your own inspiration boards. I would love to see them.