Use a Mood Board to Inspire Your Infographics

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

When planning your infographic, you should know that a mood board is a collage or collection of images, colors, typography, and other art elements that allow you to show the direction you’re headed — and that’s a really useful thing in the early stage of a project to help you organize your thoughts.

Knowing what you want the overall effect to be, or the style you want to use, will focus your efforts.

Your mood board can also be used in early discussions with your client. The mantra “Show, don’t tell” should be pinned up somewhere in your studio. (After all, it applies to much of the infographic process.) Verbally describing the style you plan to use leaves room for confusion. Using visuals, displayed neatly for a client to study, can provide a much clearer sense of your ideas.

You don’t have to reveal every element of your finished product in a mood board. It’s simply a way to organize your preferences and test what works.

Some art departments make a conscious practice of keeping inspiration, from a variety of sources, visible for the team. That’s a great idea. But you can develop your own mood boards, whether they’re as old-school as images stuck to a bulletin board or as modern as a Pinterest site.

Now, what’s the difference between a mood board and a wireframe? In some cases, they may be very similar. But in general, mood boards loosely organize your preferences for design, while a wireframe is a true rough draft of a specific project.

You can draw on your mood boards as you create your wireframe. You can also add to a mood board at any time, and come back to it for inspiration for many different projects. It may be part of your quest to develop your custom style.

By contrast, you’ll be done with your wireframe as soon as you’ve turned it into a finished infographic.

Keeping a mood board in a digital space is easy and fun. Flickr is a suitable vehicle, and a variety of other programs are available in which artists and clients can work collaboratively in a shared visual space. Pinterest has become one of the most frequently used ways to keep mood boards organized. It’s an intuitive and elegant way to keep track of great ideas.

To work in Pinterest, sign up and create a profile. It’s free. Then create as many boards as you like, perhaps one for each project. Or, you could create boards for “color palettes,” “favorite fonts,” “amazing infographics I’ve seen,” and so on.

In the upper right of the Pinterest interface, look for a plus-sign (+) symbol. Click that, and the resulting drop-down menu gives you choices to upload a pin from your hard drive, add a pin from a website, or create a new board.

So, create your mood board and add collaborators if you like. That could be co-workers or clients — whoever you want to be able to see and add to the board. By default, boards are public and searchable on the web.

You can “follow” people or companies with content that inspires you. If you follow enough good contributors, you’ll get fresh inspiration every time you log onto the site. When you see something you want to keep, “Like” or repin it to one of your own boards.