3 Steps for Using Music to Influence Your Designs
1. Pick Music Appropriate to the Style You’re Creating In
If you listen to certain types of music, it can put you in the right mood, or set the right vibe to more effectively create specific visual designs:
- Grungy – industrial music
- Futuristic – electronic beats
- Sunny – bright tropical grooves
- Slick – driving house music
- And so forth
You wouldn’t listen to futuristic electronic beats if you’re working on a serene, organic, wood-based design. And you wouldn’t blast acoustic folk tunes while crafting energetic, slick, futuristic designs.
So after you’ve decided what specific visual design style you’re going after or are having trouble achieving, start playing the appropriately-themed music while working.
Seriously, it’s not a tangible or easily-proven thing, but it really works. Just how the right music will fit and enhance the mood of a film (imagine upbeat jangle-pop rock in a brooding, dark horror film – it doesn’t work), in the same way the right music fits and enhances your ability to create a certain visual style.
2. Use the Music’s Rhythm to Drive You
The tempo and energy of the music you’re listening to can help you achieve a certain tempo or energy with your design.
Seems like forehead-slapping obviousness, but bear with this step. This isn’t meant in an abstract new-age-y way, but literally working along to the rhythm.
Meaning, don’t just stop at bopping your head and tapping your feet to the beat, but type, draw, move elements in your design, and whatever else to the tempo as well:
- Faster, more energetic music will make you create bolder, stronger, simpler designs.
- While slower, pastoral music might make you create deliberate, detailed, smoothed out designs.
If you’ve ever gone for a run or worked out to music, you might have noticed how you run or work out faster the faster the tempo or more energetic the tune. It’s the same here for designing, except now that you’re conscious of this, you can purposefully put faster and more energetic music on when you need to create bolder, stronger, simpler designs, and vice versa.
3. Switch Up the Music Styles to Stay Energized
Too much of anything becomes monotonous. Even the loudest, most banging drum and bass tunes will wear you down and make it normal, not energizing. But intersperse it with some slower, chill tunes, then resume with the banging beats, and you’re jolted out of a routine and fired up again.
Imagine a band playing fast tunes non-stop for the entire show, with no pauses in between. Too much, and the energizing effect wears off after a while.
The same for music you’re playing while designing. True, you used steps #1 and #2 to select and harness the appropriate music in order to achieve your desired visual design style faster, easier, and better. But if you want to sustain that positive influence, you want to give your brain something different every so often to get a jolt and be re-energized.