12 Days of Design: Day 2 Pick A Theme

JAN 2, 2017

It’s day two of our 12 Days of Design Challenge! Yesterday you gathered inspiration and today you’ll pick a theme. With the help of Pinterest and a little guidance, we’ll learn how to organize our inspiration and begin to illustrate a theme. Mood boards are the secret to helping your creative mind stay focused once you’ve sifted through your inspiration to find what you want to develop into a final theme. 

It all starts with the mood board

Try this: color block mood board via A Beautiful Mess

Inspiration boards are a great way to pull together ideas, learn what inspires you most, and see how all of the elements look as a whole. These could be digital inspiration boards like a folder on your desktop or a Pinterest board, or an actual board where you tack up things that inspire you (we love the color blocked mood board above by A Beautiful Mess).

Finding a theme:

Look around at what’s inspiring you and find relationships or patterns. There may not be obvious associations, but stand back and look around your environment to analyze what type of aesthetic you gravitate toward. Take a look at the inspiration you gathered from the day before and isolate your favorites. Ask yourself what it is about each object or photo that inspires you and go from there.

Download the Photoshop template Rekita used to create this mood board here in her post.

One of the loveliest aspects to having the internet at your fingertips is that millions of images and ideas are just a click away. Using a tool like Pinterest can help you grab your finds and organize them into cohesive stories for your future projects and designs.

Getting started with your Mood Board on Pinterest. Not familiar with Pinterest? Here’s how to begin: 

STEP 1: Join, or sign into your Pinterest account. With Pinterest, you can save images that you find within the platform, and anywhere on the web. For images you find outside of Pinterest, you can download a “save it” button in your browser. This will make it easier to quickly save an image to a Pinterest board as soon as inspiration strikes.

STEP 2: Create a board. Begin by clicking on the profile icon on the right hand side of the screen. Use the “create a board” button on the left hand side of the screen, name your board, and add details like a description, category etc. Once you complete these steps, your board will be ready for you to add ideas to it!

Start broadly. Just be free and don’t edit yourself when deciding what to save. You’ll start to notice patterns in the types of patterns you collect on your board, and constant themes in what you seem to like most. Once you have about 10 or so images saved, sit back and analyze them as a whole. Are they mostly soft colors? All watercolor paint and free hand illustration? Or do you lean more towards bright, bold geometrics and vector shapes? Did you pin just green designs and natural textures? Mostly large scale or abstract? Stay true to your natural aesthetic whatever it may be, and choose your theme based off these visual cues. Once you’ve identified the patterns that you want to build on, create a second, more focused Pinterest board that narrows in on what you want to create more specifically. Try not to pin only surface designs. You’re drawing inspiration from your environment and things out in the world so don’t be afraid to add photographs of fashion, nature, produce, weird textures, whatever else you’re in the “mood” for!

we can’t get enough of the mood boards from Pattern Curator
inspired by the French macaron shop, Laduree.


Remember that the most important thing and what makes all the big designers successful is authenticity. So don’t forget to be authentic. It’s easy to be super inspired by looking around the web, but remember to never be too inspired by someone else’s work. Find your own personal style and stick with it. Here’s a great article from Spoonflower designer Virginia O about that.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with! Don’t forget to share it with us by tagging #12daysofdesign. Be sure to stay with us through the challenge because tomorrow we’ll be discussing what it really takes to create an effective color palette. Not signed up yet? Sign up here to have each day’s tips delivered straight to your inbox.

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