Our feeds, stories, grids, homepages and FYPs are filled with a lot of stuff. Too much stuff. The infinite scroll certainly living up to its name. An exhausting overload of content in a world of exhausting overloads. It’s no surprise that the pressure to create and feed the hungry algorithms is resulting in creator burnout, anxiety and mental health issues. Some creators are even logging off completely.
Enter: mood board accounts. They’ve been around forever (and are basically just Tumblr), and all the while seem to be on an unstoppable ascent. The curation economy, perhaps most visible in the rise (and fall) of Instagram furniture resellers along with the undeniable rise of Depop and the craft aesthetic, exploded during the pandemic. Consumers are turning to curators of the internet as tastemakers, whose power of selection is saving them time (and money). Curation, once reserved for art galleries and museums, is now an essential part of our overloaded lives. And where to find such influence, but Instagram’s Mood Board Accounts. Where the old is new, and the new is new but feelsold. Take @90smilk, where anyone can browse a mid-90s dELIA*s catalog. Or personal favorite @liljupiterr for when I want to watch a pile of sneakers collapse, or gaze once more upon the long forgotten Power Balance wristband. And of course there’s always @chair.only – because I like chairs.
Admittedly, my feed is mostly these accounts nowadays. It's how I’ve made Instagram a place for true creative discovery. So for those looking for inspiration through moodboard accounts, here are three things to bear in mind:
1. Check The References
Curator accounts are a reminder of what’s already been, so it’s important to dig a bit deeper. I screenshot and reverse image search – sometimes this comes up blank, but sometimes it leads me down an awesome rabbit hole. Looking at ads for ad ideas and trending tweets for tweet ideas is a tightrope. And while direct references are useful to study during the ideation phase, if relied on too closely, there’s a good chance the creative born out of this research will be derivative or even plagiarized. As the old (and questionable) saying goes, “To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.” Use your discretion.
2. Follow the influence
The power of curator accounts on the internet right now is undeniable. Creative leaders such as Wes Gordon and Sean Wotherspoon (and many others) are among the followers of these thoughtfully organized accounts, likely intrigued by how this movement is flipping the script on where influence originates. Is the intrigue found in a posed shot from the creator of myspace? Or in this subtly unhinged wedding ring? Arguably it’s both, but one has been reduced to live the rest of its days in eternal cheugydom, while the other exists as – in its best form – a curated archive of culture (both past and present). Many of my favorite high-profile creatives follow a scrollable number of accounts. Look at their following to unearth niche players in the space.
3. Adapt for brand marketing
Some brands have already leveraged and dispersed their creative across influential moodboard social handles. Notable early movers include luggage brand (and LVMH company) Rimowa, who launched their new, neon and possibly most alternative suitcase with content featured across a number of large mood board accounts. A more recent push came from Balenciaga with their Fortnite collab (alsoresposted). And then you have the case study of meme accounts (arguably mood boards, definitely curated) being leveraged in a similar fashion, specifically by Bud Light and Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. This is a wide open market, and the thought of making content for these accounts is exciting. So, take this and run with it.
So there you have it. We are our own research assistants, after all – might as well call in a bit of curated support.
Devin Feldman is an Associate Director of Story at Day One Agency.