What is a vision board? Creative planning for artists

Vision boards are visual representations of a particular life goal or dream. They’ve been popular with loads of people over the last 20 years or so: bloggers, business people, entrepreneurs, regular folks who work at Starbucks– they’ve all made some kind of vision board at some point.

Why would they make a vision board, anyway?

Well, vision boards were born through the Law of Attraction movement, where the act of visualizing your goals “attracts” positive energy and outcomes.

Having a tangible, daily reminder of the goal you’re striving for can help focus your mind on those same goals. People find it helps them be more proactive about getting those goals actualized!

I’ve seen this a lot with people who use daily planners or bullet journals. Often they’ll make a goal page (or “word of the year” page) and put it in the front of their journal, so they can reflect back on it throughout the year. Technically, that’s a vision board, too.

The most popular style of vision board is a collage of images, words and symbols. This fits in neatly with my favorite style of art (collage!) and so that got me thinking that vision boards can be a great way for artists to creatively plan the next year or few years.

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Creative processing

Like most collages, the fun part of making a vision board isn’t necessarily the end product. The real magic is in the MAKING of the vision board.

Making a vision board is highly intuitive, not to mention introspective. Creative processing can help develop your vision board to be something great, rather than just another collage.

Creative processing is simply the development of an idea into its final form. For vision boards, that means first finding a specific goal or word to focus on, and then developing that into a theme to use for the creation of the vision board itself.

Making a vision board

There’s tons of ways to make a vision board. You’re really only limited by what materials you have or what style you want to do. The classic vision board is made on a poster board with magazine images and text. If you’re a planner girly, your vision board might be a spread in your book with doodles and stickers.

Digital collage creators may prefer to make their vision board on the computer, and keep it as a desktop background or a phone screen.

Paper vision board (classic)

What you’ll need:

  • Poster board or large piece of paper. This’ll be the base for your vision board, so pick something sturdy. The standard is a blank color, but you could use a pattern if you’re feeling fancy.
  • Magazines, brochures, photos. These’ll be where you get your images and text to use on the vision board. Try saving stuff from your daily life, like things you get in the mail.
  • Glitter, paint, markers
  • Stickers (like these positive affirmation ones), washi tape
  • Gluestick, to glue down your stuff to your board! Recommended: Elmer’s CraftBond gluesticks
  • Scissors, a decent set that cut well.

Setting the mood

This ties back to the Theory of Abundance stuff: because you’re visualizing your goals, you should be making your vision board in the proper environment for creative processing. A quiet, comfortable space where you can focus without distractions works best.

Music can impact your creative flow, so pick something that either a) gets you hyped up and excited to create or b) makes you calm and vibe with the energy of the universe. People prefer different settings, so just go with what works best for you.

(Me, I prefer upbeat 1980s pop/rock!)

Don’t forget to make your vision board with a positive mindset. You’re making this thing in order to focus on it all year and manifest your goals. If you create with positive vibes and optimism, it’ll not only be easier to make the vision board, but you’ll associate it with happy feelings every time you look at it.

Visualizing your goals

The original intent of the vision board is to manifest totally out-of-pocket dreams (“I want to be President!”), and so you shouldn’t limit yourself. Typically, classic vision boards encompass your entire life, and so you’d put in things for your career, personal development, relationships, and health.

But if you’re a little more realistic, then you’ll want to pick a specific, achievable objective.

These are called SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For instance, rather than just say “I want to lose weight,” you’d focus it down to “I want to lose 20 lbs by the end of the year by exercising three times a week and following a balanced diet.” This is a specific goal, which you can measure, it’s achievable and the time limit creates a sense of urgency so you’ll want to get it done on time.

Even better is if you can tie it into a wider goal (the Relevant part). Losing weight just to lose weight is fine, but if you did it because you want to run a marathon next year, now you can contribute to a larger picture goal.

For vision boards, I’d say do one on a SMART goal and then another one on the wider picture goal. So you can do a classic vision board for your whole life, and then another (smaller?) one for a specific goal. The specific one should be reasonably achievable, but the wider picture one can be aspirational!

Building the vision board

If you’re making a board for a specific goal, then finding a theme should be easy. You’ll want to select images and quotes that resonate with you and fit into the theme of your goal. They’re going to be visual reminders of your desires, after all, so they should fit in with the overall theme of that goal.

Using magazine clippings makes it a little tough to pick a color scheme, but you can still work in some color theory if you want. The poster board background, for instance, can be an important choice. Psychologically, colors play a large part on our mood– so you’d want warm tones for motivation and passion, or cool tones for calm and focus.

Arrange your selections in a way that tells a story. If you’re used to making collages than this should be easy for you, but if it’s your first time, then here’s some tips:

Your main image should be in the middle of the board. Hopefully it’s fairly big, as it’s going to be the focus image. Surround it with smaller images and words that radiate outward, like sunbeams.

If you don’t have a big enough focus image, cut out a large circle from a color piece of paper and place it behind the image to visually pull it into the forefront of the collage.

Basically, the way you place the images should visually represent the connections between your goals. You also want to keep things balanced throughout the collage; no single part should feel overwhelming or crowded. You want it to be visually cohesive.

A good way to do that is to use repeating elements. For instance, if you use washi tape in one part of the board, make sure to use it at least two more times. Groups of three read better than just one or two single floating graphics, and helps tie everything together.

Using markers to doodle or make arrows, lines, dots, etc. can help tie everything together, too.

Common vision board problems

“I can’t find good images!”

Two ways to fix this:

  1. Look for images online and print them out. I have some resources for finding vintage and modern images online for free.

You could also take pictures yourself and print them out, too!

  1. Use metaphorical imagery. If you’re stuck because you can’t find a good magazine clipping of a person with a suitcase, maybe swap it out for a winding road which symbolizes a journey. That sort of thing! Use your imagination and think of symbols rather than specific images.

“My vision board is ugly!”

Well, sometimes ugly art is still good art.

That said, try not to worry too much about it. You’re the only one going to look at it, after all. Focus on the process of creating rather than achieving perfection. Embracing imperfections as part of the artistic journey will allow you to have a more enjoyable and liberating experience.

Your vision board is a personal expression. Imperfections contribute to your vision board’s uniqueness. Let go of the need for everything to be flawless and allow the creative energy to flow organically.

Plus, there’s no reason you can’t just make another vision board if you wanted. You’re not stuck with whatever one you made for the whole year, after all.

What to do with your vision board

Generally, you’d hang your vision board up where you can see it regularly. Usually that’s on a wall– maybe in your office, or in your bedroom. If it’s small enough to fit into your planner, stick it in there.

A vision board is not static. Regularly revisit and update it as your goals evolve. Reassessing ensures that your vision board remains a relevant part of your life.

Achieved a goal? Congrats!

Acknowledge and celebrate the achievements on your vision board. Not only will this reinforce a positive mindset, but you’ll get the visual remind of your accomplishments.

Making a vision board is a deeply personal and creative journey. It’s not just about making a collage, but about channeling your life goals and wishes into a visual narrative that’ll ignite your motivation to actually achieve those goals.

As you start making vision boards, just remember that there are no rigid rules. Your vision board is yours and you can do what you want with it. Your vision board is a canvas for your dreams, and creativity knows no bounds.

The important part is to combine that creativity with intention! Manifestation, coupled with creativity, is the key to vision boards and the whole reason for making them.

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