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The Moxie of a Moodboard: Part 1

I love it when worlds collide.

One of the things I do to pay the bills while staying home with my kiddos is freelance work. Currently, I have the honor of writing copy for CHAR co. - a small firm that specializes in crafting brand identity. Through this experience, I've learned a lot about branding and design from the talented ladies I work alongside.

As with all new bits of information, I want to make some kind of connection to what I already know or understand. By default, I think of how real-world experiences fit within the confines of the classroom. My work at CHAR co. often runs parallel to literary interactions; we think about themes, interpret ideas, and bring a nebulous vision into a concrete reality.

One of the ways we do this for clients is through something called a moodboard, and that's what I want to talk about today. I've put together a moodboard project to use as a culminating activity for literature, but before I introduce it, I want to give you a little background on how it lives in the world of branding.

To do that, I've asked fellow freelancer, Jena Braun (CHAR co.'s graphic designer) to share a little bit about a moodboard and how it works. Through an e-mail interview, she provides key background information on the definition and process of a moodboard.

What is a Moodboard?

Leslie: Who are you/what is your background/what do you do?

Jena: My name is Jena and I’m a graphic designer / art director. I've always been interested in fonts, color, and design and how it can help form a brand and build perceptions. As a graphic designer it is my job to bring ideas and thoughts together to form tangible visuals which help people build brands.

Leslie: What exactly is a mood board and why do you create one?

Jena: A mood board is a visual representation of the brand. It's typically one of the first pieces a designer creates to develop and explore the look of a business. Mood boards include (but are not limited to) colors, textures, and photography - which as a whole generates the foundation of the brand. It also helps to bring client understanding toward an art direction, and has everyone understanding the tone of the brand.

Leslie: What is your process in creating a mood board?

Jena: I take research about the company, and jot down a list of adjectives, thoughts, and design directions that come to mind. I collect imagery from the internet and play with photos, colors, and fonts to try to create a board that generates a feeling. I take several breaks while working on a mood board and come back to them with fresh eyes - I find that this creates a more creative end result.

Leslie: How/what do you think mood boards are able to communicate that other methods (i.e. words) are not?

Jena: There is something magical about how images can work together to make a sum greater than its parts. Words greatly help to tell the story, but images set the tone quickly and can give a viewer an instant feeling upon looking at a visual. The word 'fashion' can tell you ‘clothing’ -- but a mood board or imagery can paint a picture in your mind of ‘hip california 1970’s skateboarder’ or ‘haute couture spring runway fashion’.

The Crossover - How Moodboards Apply

So here is where we make the connection. Jena mentioned a couple things that I think are particularly applicable to the classroom. In short, moodboards can:

  • Provide an avenue for students to creatively interpret the literary elements of a novel, poem, or short story.

  • Help students explore the themes represented in a literary work in a deeper, more cohesive way

  • Hone students' understanding of symbolism, tone, and motif

  • Serve as a collective expression of a literary piece in a visually appealing way

A project like this allows the hands-on kids, the artistic kids, the visual kids, and the kids who enjoy thinking about a topic creatively a means for alternate communication.

Next week I'll provide the practical points as well as examples and rubrics for moodboards so that you can start working on how to use them in your classroom this year.

No rest for the weary, friends. Summer planning has begun!

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