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Concept Boards

(source: design*sponge)

I adore browsing websites like The Selby or Design*Sponge for sneak peaks into studios of artists and designers. So perfectly chaotic, so profoundly organized.

Looking around my own space, I seek to project my creativity into my surroundings in hopes of becoming immersed in the concepts that float within my brain. One thing I’ve noticed that creative minds have alike: highly refined concept boards adorn their studio walls. The images and objects grouped together help promote a deep focus for a project allowing a designer to narrow down ideas before getting started.

Concept boards can be created on virtually anything; something simple like a poster board, a cork board tacked into a vintage frame, clip boards, dangling from a makeshift clothesline or even directly on the wall. These concept boards act as a guide, keeping collections unified and inspiring the artist to fine tune her ideas. Here’s how to get started…

(source: smile & wave)


Magazines, picture books, and vintage photo albums are excellent sources of inspiration: from exaggerated fashion editorials to 1950’s family photos to a mesmerizing array of peaches in a cook book, any of these may provide a little kick of inspiration to get a project off the ground. While browsing for images, try not to become overwhelmed! Allow your intuition to do the work for you by collecting images with shapes, colors, designs or style icons that immediately catch your eye.

Afterwards, look over your selections and see if any themes are prevalent. Do you have multiple images of flowers and nature? Are you drawn to nautical blues and whites? Perhaps geometric shapes or exotic prints strike your fancy? These themes help to focus a concept so you can begin on sketching out your ideas. After you’ve put the pen to paper, make sure to include your sketches and notes on the concept board!

(source: erayo)


Concepts boards often incorporate materials that will be considered for a design. Colors, prints, and textures of these raw materials can speak for themselves and influence the design process. For a sewist, visualizing certain fabrics, trims, buttons, thread, or an existing garment next to an overall concept gives you chance to mix and match to see what works. Of course, these materials will probably get changed out several times until you settle on some that fit your design perfectly, so allow yourself to feel fluid and follow your creative path. When you finally do settle on the appropriate materials, just imagine how much time this will save at the fabric shop!

(source: notes from the sewing room)

Inspiring quotes

As a brainy Einstein once said: All these primary impulses, not easily described in words, are the springs of man’s actions. These words echo my sentiments on why quotes are a great accompaniment to a concept board. Be it the form of song lyrics, a piece of literature, or a striking conclusion uttered once but echoed for all time, quotes validate your thoughts and move you to action. These words will help set the tone for your work day and will inspire you to carry on during the (sometimes grueling) process!

(source: jcrew)

Having all of these elements displayed together in your daily field of vision helps keep your brain on a cohesive track to completing a successful project, but don’t be afraid to switch them out when they no longer suit your concept!

Rachel Rector


Cory Ellen

November 8, 2010 #

This is so cool to see. I’ve seen a lot of concept boards floating around online, but wasn’t ever sure where to begin to make my own, especially as a student with a scattered brain and equally scattered living quarters! It’s inspiring to see a variety of thought processes represented in the types of boards as well – thanks for sharing.

Julie Robertson

November 10, 2010 #

I just want to take a moment of your time to thank this wonderful team of bloggers. As a 44 year old mom, who would give my FRONT TEETH to go to fashion design school, but simply cannot, I find your articles helpful, noteworthy and inspiring. Thanks again to all of you hardworking girls.


November 10, 2010 #

Thank you, Julie!! Such a great compliment to all of us :)