One of the most useful and important tools for creatives working across multiple fields is the mood board. Fashion Designers may be the earliest proponents of the practice of assembling various imagery, items, pieces of poetry, song lyrics and any other piece of ephemera that might induce inspiration, but today the tool is vital for everyone from engineers to photographers to screenwriters. Speaking strictly from years of experience as a photographer, it can be very difficult to conceive of an idea for a pictorial layout or editorial campaign out of thin air. I long ago became familiar with the practice of assembling massive files of magazine tearsheets, organized under headings like “lifestyle”, “beauty”, “autos”, “menswear”, “accessories”, and on, into the practically infinite amount of categories that comprise the universe of image creation. When I was still a photo assistant working for a major photographer of children’s fashion, whenever a new campaign came into the studio, out would come all the brimming file folders. The photographer, the stylist and the hair and makeup artist would then pow wow around the conference table before a giant cork board full of push pins. Onto the board would go all the imagery pulled from the files that gave inspiration for the photo shoot. Thus was created the mood board from which everything from what type of model to cast to what props, wardrobe, makeup and hair styles, etc, would be decided.
Today the task is made so much easier thanks to the internet. It is no longer necessary to fill up drawers of file cabinets with multiple file folders bulging with imagery torn from magazines and books and newspapers. I no longer spend time lingering in international news stands perusing all the magazines from around the world in the search for ideas and inspiration, or sitting on the floor of Barnes & Noble next to a huge stack of fashion and photo books. Now I just enter a couple of words into Google, such as “Moroccan Chic”, and up come literally hundreds of images from all over the world relating to the topic. If I am at my laptop, I dump every page into a bookmark folder or save a photo onto a file on my desktop. I keep the image folders in hard drives set aside just for these inspirational folders. I have my bookmarks organized under all the different categories I have created for each folder, for quick access when I am stuck for an idea or visual concept, whether it is for an article or a photo shoot. This practice keeps my mind full of creative ideas and whenever I feel dry or uninspired, I just click into one of the bookmarked folders or open the folders on my drives and unleash my imagination. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung understood how psychological archetypes work on the unconscious to motivate imagination, and he had his own mood board called The Red Book, a massive tome that is a compendium of words and images.
ListaPost is an app that just came out that makes it even easier to get inspiration, practically instantaneously. The app works for both iPhone and Android and allows you to search, save and share Instagram photos with ease. ListaPost lets you discover inspiring content, organize into personal lists then share your lists as slideshows – socially through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, online as HTML, or personally via email. Since joining Instagram, I have become an addict for its charms when it comes to opening instant portals into the visual worlds of creative people the world over. This has become a problem for me as I can’t possibly follow every user whose imagery catches my fancy. I began by bookmarking their pages on my laptop, and actually writing in a notebook the names of people’s pages who inspired me, for later reference. This quickly became overwhelming. I look at so many Instagram user’s feeds, from fashion designers like Opening Ceremony and Karl Lagerfeld to other photographers such as James Nachtwey and Cindy Sherman, and many of their pages lead me on to the pages of other users. It is literally like falling down a rabbit hole for an obsessed image fanatic. ListaPost just solved this problem for me in the best way.
Here is what is so perfect about the free app: I can save my favorite images from the feeds of Instagram users without following every single page I fall in love with. ListaPost lets me create a list, such as “Fantasy hats”, and then all I have to do is find the imagery by using the tag app and click on the ListaPost icon under a fave in a feed and it goes directly into the list. I can create as many lists as I like and then even better, I can immediately share them with my collaborators, such as hair stylists and makeup artists and wardrobe stylists. It is a time saving tool that solves many problems in one shot, no pun intended. No longer do I have to take a screen shot of each and every image that inspires me and text message each one separately to a colleague; now I can send one entire list of images via e-mail, text, Facebook messenger, and I can even share a 10 image video of the list on Instagram.
The app launched soft back in September and since then it has been gaining a following with creatives and influencers in fields as diverse as magazine publishing to acting. The actor Topher Grace recently posted a ListaPost video for his followers of gadgets from the 90’s that you can check out here. Suited magazine’s editor-in-chief talks about how ListaPost has become one of her chief research mood boards in a video that really nails how useful the tool is fast becoming in the world of publishing. You can check out the video where Ashley Owens talks all things ListaPost here. What is most useful about ListaPost for creatives is that it is possible to create instant portfolios of one’s work that can be shared across multiple social media outlets. I post so many photos every week on Instagram, with many different themes, that it has been a problem in the past when I want to show someone only the posted imagery of a subject like “Street Fashion” or “Cosplay”. Now I can create lists and organize all of the related imagery under one heading and instantly pull it up to show a potential client. I can text it on the spot, or e-mail it, or share it on Facebook.
ListaPost was founded by Benjamin Nazarian, also the founder and CEO of WannaGo, a mobile software company whose app products include ListaPost and WannaGo. His career has entailed taking a leading operational role in building private companies spanning various industries. Prior to WannaGo, Nazarian was the managing partner of Omninet Capital, where he grew the company into a vertically integrated real estate firm with operations in five states. He has also served as a lead investor and Board member on a number of tech startups for more than 15 years. Nazarian created his first app around saving your favorite places inside lists. When the concept of ListaPost was created, it was also driven by the saving action, but this time, the idea surrounded around saving posts in an organized fashion, i.e. inside of lists.
ListaPost has given me a legitimate reason to spend concentrated amounts of time looking through hundreds of Instagram feeds. My lists are a useful tool for my creative work, but they are also an inspiring resource for every area of my life. I already have lists relating to interior decorating, recipes, places I want to visit, fashion ideas; all of the lists in one handy spot right on my iPhone. What started out as just a simple “Food” list quickly morphed into different headings, my favorite being “Middle Eastern Food”, which led me to an incredible recipe website, Taste of Beirut. I love to find recipes for tagines, hummus and spicy poultry dishes, so this ListaPost slideshow is one of my largest. And my favorite thing about Listapost is that it is an ideal way to while away time as I wait for takeout, the M72 to arrive or in line at Whole Foods.
There was a wonderful scene that I found so relatable in the most recent episode of, “Fargo”, which aired last night at 10 PM on the FX network. Beautician Peggy Blumquist, played to perfection by Kirsten Dunst, asks Sheriff Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) not to remove the stacks of magazines that are piled on all four of the chairs at the kitchen table so he can sit down when he visits her to talk about a hit and run accident that she was involved in. She explains how important it is for her work as a beautician to collect and hoard all the fashion and beauty magazines so she can keep abreast of current styles and stay inspired. A bit later in the episode we see the basement of the house she shares with her husband is filled to capacity with stacks of magazines, all piled precariously to the rafters. Poor Peggy was becoming overwhelmed by her mood board because the year was 1979, and the internet and social media were still a thing of the future. The Listapost app can be dowloaded free for iPhone and Android at http://lista-post.com. Watch a quick tutorial video about ListaPost here.