A Day in the Life of a Summer Intern: Let’s Bust Out the ‘Mood Board’

By Kiran Aditham Comment

Our summer intern series keeps on rolling as we bring you this latest installment, which for the first time, comes equipped with a handy visual element. The man behind this piece is Joey Cofone, a self-described “designer & troublemaker” who is in his final year at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Cofone, who is currently interning at the New York-based design and branding outfit Carbone Smolan Agency, discusses the benefits of the “mood board.” Take it away, sir.

I knew this internship would be different from day one, when the good people at Carbone Smolan Agency told me at the last minute that I would be presenting my work to the whole office during the Monday lunch staff meeting. Since then, CSA has taught me that good work stems from good spirits, which they have in spades. The team is creative and pushes limits, which shows in how they let me handle this article, and which I see every day when they push clients in their branding and how they communicate.

One of my first tasks—while working on the identity, website and design for a big consulting firm—was to create an exquisitely crafted mood board, where every pica and picture was scrupulously examined with the express goal of creating a clear atmosphere to help the client visually grasp the strategy driving their new identity. (For those who don’t know, a mood board is a meticulously curated collection of images on a single page–or board–that conveys a sense of atmosphere, tone, voice, and mood through color, typography, photography, texture, arrangement, etc. Mood boards are used to show a client what the brand could feel like.)

It’s easy for us visual linguists and strategists to explain amongst ourselves how a remote metaphor abstractly correlates to several decisions that inform the look and feel of a design project, but not with most clients who know little to nothing about design and branding. I realized that how we speak to each other doesn’t work when explaining ideas to a client. Enter mood boards, and thus the lesson: show, don’t tell.