Inspiration, Influence, and Mood Boards

Inspiration, Influence, and Mood Boards

One of the best things about graphic design is that you can find it everywhere, every day. Take a moment to look around — I guarantee you’ll find something within five feet of you that has been graphically designed. Heck, right now you’re staring at a screen as you read this. These letters were specifically designed as a way to communicate a meaning to you.

As a graphic designer, I’m constantly finding new inspiration everywhere and adding these discoveries to my ever-evolving personal mood board.

A mood board is a visual map of what you want to create. It’s a great organizational tool and is often used to show a client or your team where you’re getting inspiration from for a design project. Not only should you use it for your work, but I believe designers should have a personal one that pays homage to their personal design career.

Now we get to the best part: My personal mood board, filled with things that have inspired, influenced, and pushed me as a graphic designer.


1. Go Cubbies!

Graphic designers can take a lot of inspiration from the classics. Have you found something old and cool looking? Use that to create something uniquely yours but nods to classic design — just don’t rip it off!

2. Album Design

Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy was the first album cover that completely blew my mind as a kid. It inspired me to create my own album sleeves, not just for actual bands but for imaginary ones as well.

3. Color Theory

Andy Warhol is a huge inspiration for me in regards to color choice and theory. I use a lot of duo tone in my designs to make things pop (no pun intended). I’m also a huge fan of screen printing, and he was a boss at that.

4. Field Notes

Be prepared: Inspiration strikes randomly! I try to always carry paper with me just in case I come up with an idea when I’m away from the computer. And If I’m bored and have a couple minutes, I’ll doodle. I also keep Evernote on my phone, just in case I’m out of paper.

5. Product Design

When I was a kid, I loved Lemonheads packaging. I was drawn to the complementary colors, illustrations, and typography. I wish they’d switch back to the classic design. Goonies + Lemonheads = Childhood.

6. Earthbound (SNES) 1994

This Super Nintendo game changed the way I thought about everything. It had a sense of humor that I related to, its colors were so bright and vibrant, and the dialog was a great balance of dark and quirky. It still inspires a lot of my creations. Earthbound also taught me to embrace weirdness, think on my own, be creative, and to not take myself too seriously. I absolutely love this game and what it has done for me creatively.

Now you should have a general idea of what type of designer I am and what has influenced me. Remember, the ultimate goal with a mood board is to visually organize and present your idea as a collective — to get a general sense and feel for what a future project will look like. If you were to create a personal mood board, what would be on it?

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