Starting a new project for a client is impossible. It’s the time when you decide that you probably should look into a baking apprenticeship and leave all this creative nonsense behind. But then you begin; and the alchemistic processes of turning nothingness into something, and transmuting trepidation into growing excitement gets underway.

It’s exceptionally vague locking ideas down in the beginning; for me it’s barely more than I can divine using my throwing bones, or in some cases, think up as a starting word in Google. But then miraculously from out of the ether – some really, really shitty ideas form; and you begin to question how errant your mother’s parenting must have been for you to now have this much obvious brain damage. Nonetheless you continue – sobbing into your bottle of whisky.

Little by little more ideas grow, and eventually some of them hardly suck at all. You find inspiration searching for pictures of Jennifer Love-Hewitt and reading about necromancy, you start to understand how you should light your client’s hair and how many weasels you should get for the Ferris wheel (aka the ferret wheel). It seems like something is happening.

So now it’s time to start sharing some ideas with the team and your client. The collaborative working process is important for finding other people to blame deepening your ideas. In my experience it’s also really helpful to have people like make-up specialists to you know…design the make-up etc. As a team you begin to create a mood-board for the project, and it’s this part of the development that gets everyone to see the same vision and start to edge toward the same goal. This is kind of like the creative version of forming Voltron.

Pinterest is our electric powered mood-board of choice. It’s possible to make a board a secret invite-only affair which not only limits the amount of public ridicule, but also gives everyone the ability to make comments on images and allows the whole group including clients to add pictures.

We find that often clients know what they want but don’t know how to explain it, sometimes that’s because artists use a lot pretentious words to be obscure, like chiaroscuro. But we find that a visual board is a really great way to more directly and more accurately communicate some ideas.

Doing planning like this with your team is really important for fleshing out the concept and all the components of your project. It brings the level of your work up, it produces cohesion within the group, and it makes your customers more likely to go along with your foolish and dangerous plans. As my Aunt Jemima used to say, “Planning is the difference between being a hack, and being a bit less of a hack”, and isn’t that what we’re all ultimately aiming for?