Why It’s Time To Make a Mood Board

It’s true — fall is here. Of course, we all knew that, but I really knew it yesterday when the afternoon sun peeked in my office window and it was different. It had a fleeting, almost eclipse-feel and it hit me that I need not procrastinate any longer on getting some new headspace for the seasons ahead. I remembered last year (and probably the year before that) wandering around the house in the dark at 4:30pm, wondering what the heck I was supposed to do besides crawl into bed. Now’s the time to gather all of those thoughts, moods, feelings and goals one wants to be boldly reminded of when the grey days and cold nights set in!

You need to make a mood board. You need to make a mood board now before all of your summer giddiness and September smiles fade into the ether of deep, chilly fall and what will seem like a never-ending winter. You know it’s coming, so grab your Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors, some poster board and all of those old magazines and get cutting! If you don’t have a ton of old reading material, Goodwill or thrift stores do. Don’t be picky — you’d be surprised what you can find in a dog-eared copy of Forbes magazine!

If you need more inspiration to actually complete this important, mid-winter mood-boosting DIY, there are some beautiful examples of boards we love, like the one below, after the “how-to.”

From Grace: For anyone new to the idea of vision or mood boards, they’re essentially a way to visualize what you’re most interested in right now in your life. I find them to be an incredible way to get in touch with my subconscious and cut through all the “this is what I SHOULD be doing,” and figure out what I actually want/need right now.

Sometimes vision boards are all about the distant future, but they can also be helpful to assess the right now. Some years, my boards have been about figuring out the years ahead and some years (like my most recent board) have been about making plans (or staying on course) for what I want to do in the coming months.

Here’s how to get started:

Get yourself a large piece of foam core. I prefer foam core to something thinner, but any flat piece of cardboard or presentation board (even cork board) will work.

Gather a large selection of printed matter that you’re okay with recycling when you’re done. I like to collect old catalogs, magazines, newspapers and use them as source material. But you can also pull from anything else lying around. I even cut the side off of a cardboard salt box one time because I liked the pattern. The sky is the limit when it comes to source materials — even fabrics would be fun to pin or glue on.

Pick up a pair of scissors (I use my trusted Orange-handled Scissors), a few glue sticks and thumbtacks. The thumbtacks are for organizing your images together in the initial step and the glue is for finalizing the images in place.

The process:

The basic concept is to cut any imagery/text from printed matter that appeals to you (any strong emotional reaction will do!) and to collage them in a way that feels pleasing to your eye/mind/heart. I like to plunk down on the floor and pull things out one by one and gather them in a big stack until I’ve gone through all my printed matter (you can always print things off the Internet or your Pinterest boards, too!).

Once I’ve torn everything out, I like to go through the pile again and cut things neatly with scissors to focus on the words/pattern/colors I’m most drawn to.

Next, I like to start with the image I’m most drawn to and place it in the center of the board. Then I start forming relationships between images and laying them next to each other. Don’t glue at this stage yet, unless you feel strongly about the image and its placement. I like to use push pins here to keep things in place. (Tip: Don’t do any of this in front of a fan like I did this year — you’ll lose it all in one quick woosh).

Continue placing items/images until you’ve added all of the images you want. It’s okay to leave some out or to add/embellish images and text any way you like! Sometimes I like to add something written or draw in the space between images on the board.

Once you like your placement, I like to take a picture to document this phase and make note of where everything is. Then I start gluing them down until they’re all in place.

Then step back, admire your work and start seeing if you can find some of the bigger themes or messages. They may be about family, kids, work, finding your voice, changing your personal style, etc. Make notes without judgement. Then hand your board to someone you love and trust and see what they might see that you miss.

Image above: Grace’s vision board


My biggest tip has to do with the “picking/selecting” phase in the beginning. Don’t go in with any preconceived notions. Oftentimes, when I go in with the idea that I want this board to answer some big life questions for me, it will end up being all about work. Or if I focus too much on work, I end up picking images that I think will speak to what I want to see. The key is to grab images that you respond to strongly, without overthinking or judging them. Those strong feelings will make themselves clear when you start arranging. But if you pick things you think you should pick (ie: as a woman in business I always feel like I should pick words like “power” and “strength,” even if I’m not drawn toward them), you’ll end up with a board that is more about what you think other people think your board should say, versus what you really want it to say.

Document the phases with photos. Sometimes the way I arrange things in the pushpin/placement phase is different than how it comes together when I start gluing them down. I learn a lot about myself in that moment and it’s valuable to get a picture of each stage to see what’s changed and, maybe, why.

Always run your board by someone else you trust. I find that people I know and love sometimes see things and connections I don’t.

Be aware of mini-themes within your board. My boards always end up having a central theme in the middle and then smaller mini-themes in different areas of the board that have to do with health, family, etc. Those mini-themes are important to assess, too.

Have fun with it! There’s no grading happening, so don’t worry if yours is neat, pretty, messy or anything. Just trust your gut and you’ll end up with something that really speaks to you.

By now you should be adding “pick up a glue stick” to your to-do list. If you need even more inspiration, here’s what your mood board can turn into and safely guide you through until spring!

This is our farewell post celebrating Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors 50th Anniversary! If you’re late to the party, you can visit our celebration posts herehere and here and visit Fiskars site here for more inspirational stories from designers and artists for whom Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors are an essential tool in their creative process.

And if you haven’t already contributed your Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors story yet, we want to hear it! From the forbidden orange majesty on the teacher’s desk to the “these scissors belong to” masking tape labels in your office space, we all probably have a Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors story. Share yours below in the comments and you’ll be entered to win one of four gift packs from us. We’ll be sending four readers gift bags with one of our favorite design or DIY books + a pair of Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors and a pair of Fiskars Kids Scissors so you can get inspired and get creative with friends, family and the younger folks in your life. We’ll be picking our winners at random on Monday, Oct. 9th.

Image above: An ever-changing “dream” board in Sydney, Australia. See all the photos of this bright white beach house here.

Image above: Victoria Suffield runs The Hambledon in Winchester, South England. She describes it as a department store where they only sell the things they love. The board in her home office helps her keep track of all her favorite things. See all the photos of her English home here.

Image above: This is food stylist Diane Perrin’s door from her childhood bedroom. Growing up, she would tape concert ticket stubs, family photos, notes from friends in class, pretty much anything that she felt represented herself. A few years ago, after remodeling the house, her father decided to ship her the door as a Hanukkah present. Now it’s a catch-all for her handbag collection, and whenever she’s feeling down, just looking at it always cheers her up. See all the photos from this creative California home here.

This post is brought to you by Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors. Thanks for supporting our sponsors who help us bring you original content every week. All words and opinions are our own. We’re proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic Fiskars Orange-handled Scissors!

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