Future Talent

Pro Tips for Putting Together a Mood Board

by akesha / last updated June 7, 2018

Many hairdressing competitions require you to present your ideas as well as your finished look, but putting together a mood board that makes an impact as well as conveying your thoughts isn’t always easy.

Outside of hairdressing competitions or auditions for hairdressing teams, mood boards are an essential tool when you’re on a photoshoot or working backstage at a fashion show. After all, you can’t beat a visual reference to show people what you’re talking about.

We spoke to session stylist and ghd UK brand ambassador Zoe Irwin for her tips on how to put together a moodboard – and use it effectively.

• There is a trend now to create an online board, but I recommend scanning and printing images to create a large A1 size moodboard that you can hold, look at and present – especially if you are taking it to a show or shoot.

• I was reminded of this recently when I was studying photography. It’s such a great visual way to edit ideas or create a mood and because of the size of the images it’s a much better discussion tool, too. By all means have an online version to send to a photographer or a stylist – and use Pinterest to source the images – but there’s nothing like a beautifully-created collage pasted onto an actual board to get your ideas across to other creative people.

• Find a good magazine shop in your town or city, get to know what they stock, visit regularly and invest in some unusual and specialist fashion magazines. I recommend taking some time out to browse through different titles. You’ll find shoots and imagery that will inspire your choice of styling, models, photography, composition and makeup, as well as hair.

• Most great session stylists use libraries and they are an amazing source of fascinating pictures and references. Look for past editions of magazines – some of the oldest are the best – and use photography books, too. I really recommend the British Library – it’s an extraordinary place! If there’s a book that inspires you, not only can you scan images from it, but sometimes you can order it into your local library by taking the title then going onto your local library’s website. It all takes time but will make your mood board so much richer and more unusual.

• Spend as many hours as you can editing and adding to your ideas before you commit to pasting up your board. You may start in one place and end in another – maybe stronger – place, so give yourself enough time to produce your board. Late at night the day before the shoot won’t work!

• Make sure you are always researching new trends so that if you are shooting, your images stand the test of time. Trend agencies will flag up ideas coming through 18 months ahead. Look at Dezeen.com; Nowness.com; Wgsn.com, – they all publish global inspiration, insights and ideas.

• I find that often an artist’s image or a photographers work will lead to an idea for the hair on a shoot, so be prepared to look at many different elements, not just hair, for inspiration. Go to The Tate Modern and other great city galleries, but then spend time in their huge book shops that feature many fashion and style books. A great mood board is down to extensive research!

• When printing images, make sure you print a few copies in case of mistakes.

• Don’t glue your board down until you have moved your images around to make it work visually. The composition is key. Don’t over-cramp your board; too many ideas can be confusing. Keep the images fairly large and work on your colours.

• If you have different ideas that all feel strong, then create different boards but try to keep one general idea or theme on one board. For hair shoots I often create multiple boards.

• I like to laminate boards once they’re finished as it keeps the edges from tearing and is a great way of keeping the boards stronger. I use a printing shop to help me with this.

• Prepare for future moodboards – keep a folder of images that you liked when you were researching that are lovely/powerful/inspiring/interesting, but maybe not for this time!

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