When mood boards reached peak popularity in the early 2000s, they were branded as a lifestyle tool for everyone from college-bound teens planning out their dorm rooms to foodies and mommy bloggers. Pinterest’s 2010 arrival made mood-boarding as easy as clicking on any image or inspirational nugget of the internet to “pin it” onto a virtual “board.”
And while they might not have called them “mood boards,” artists and other creatives have been using this method for decades—collaging together pictures, small objects, and ephemera to convey or capture a “mood,” idea, or theme. Post-war fashion and graphic designers used mood boards as a way to relay their ideas to large creative teams.
Brooklyn-based artist Stephanie Echeveste teaches mood board and vision board workshops through her company, Distill Creative. Given the ubiquity of mood and vision boards, the two terms are often used interchangeably, Echeveste explained, but they’re actually quite different. In practice, a mood board is meant to help brainstorm and plan creative projects, while vision boards are aspirational tools used to plot out personal or professional goals.
Echeveste explained that making an effective mood board can also be helpful for artists going through a creative rut. Her own weaving practice emerged from making a mood board during one such experience. “I was looking to focus the next art project,” she explained, and thought: “I’ll just make a mood board for the type of work I want to do.”
You can think of a mood board as a low-stakes creative project, requiring little time and few supplies, through which you can think through and focus your ideas before you execute them. Here, we share some insights from Echeveste on how to get started on your own mood board.