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10+ Most Creative Free WordPress Themes in 2009

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Believe it or not, there were actually some really great free themes released in 2009. You might not know it because a lot of theme roundup posts these days are riddled with affiliate links to paid themes.

This post will list some of the most creative themes I’ve seen produced in 2009. Note that I won’t be listing every single good looking theme, just ones that I’ve come across which I deem “creative” enough.

Photography / Gallery

AutoFocus – This theme is for photographers looking for a creative way to showcase their photos. There is a pretty unusual layout in which photos are displayed.

AutoFocus Screenshot

Viewport – Posts are presented on the homepage in graphic form with a small excerpt through a “viewport.” Users can click through to view the full content of the respective posts.

Viewport Screenshot

Gallery – This is a Thematic child theme designed by Chris Wallace. Be sure to check out my Gallery theme review for more information on this awesome theme.

Gallery Screenshot

Personal / Lifestream

Seven Five – Created by Jason Schuller of Press75, this theme is described as a “semi-automatic” lifestream theme which can integrate with services such as Twitter and Flickr to bring all your content together in one place.

Seven Five Screenshot

Irresistible – This WooTheme could be considered a “lifestream” theme for a personal site. You can integrate your Flickr photos, Tweets, and recent blog posts all on one neatly organized homepage.

Irresistible Screenshot

Unusual / Other

LiveTwit – This theme from Templatic lets you set up a Twitter microsite based on a search word or username. Comes with a few different color schemes.

LiveTwit Screenshot

Visiting Card – This Templatic theme is a great choice for non-bloggers who want to set up a quick mini site with contact information, including links to various social networking sites.

Visiting Card Screenshot

RS16 – Not only does this theme have a very artistic and creative design, this theme mostly makes the list because it’s primary page navigation consists entirely of icon-based links which is pretty unusual (and maybe because I’m a little biased).

RS16 Screenshot

Video / Multimedia

Selecta – This is a free video blogging theme released by Obox with six different color schemes. The video player is located at the top for main emphasis on your video content.

Selecta Screenshot

Smashing Multimedia – An amazing Smashing Magazine release designed especially for podcasters, photographers. With the theme you can easily embed videos and images, and allow users to rate them.

Smashing Multimedia Screenshot

Magazine / Content-Heavy

Meta-Morphosis – This WooTheme has an interesting main index layout with room for lots of featured content and recent posts. There’s also a pretty sweet widgetized jQuery slider in the footer.

Meta-Morphosis Screenshot

Magazeen – One of the few magazine themes you’ll see on this list. This one is very easy to read and fits lots of links to various bits of content from the homepage in an organized fashion.

Magazeen Screenshot

Blue Rooster – This is a very cool free theme by Fearless Flyer web design. Included are a bunch of page templates which really separate this one from the pack.

Blue Rooster Screenshot


I’ll spare you from the usual mile long list of free WordPress themes which you’ve probably already seen 50 times over.

Take a look at the following links instead. All of the themes above are probably on at least one of the following lists, plus a lot more quality themes to choose from.

Also thanks to the following Twitter users who made suggestions to me: @ubeloved, @Enked, @_FearlessFlyer, @wpcanada, @bradleypotter

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @themelab


Those who follow me on Twitter know I was ranting about an article entitled The Most Creative 50 WordPress Themes of 2009 yesterday. Not that I have a problem with creativity, WordPress themes, or list posts in general, as the post did have some creative WordPress themes in the form of a list.

My problem was every single theme listed was paid and every single link was an affiliate link. Now let’s get this straight, I have no problem with affiliate linking, I do it myself on occasion.

But when you’re publishing a post calling out the “most creative WordPress themes” and you completely exclude free themes, not only is it blatantly obvious your primary motivation for posting such a list derives purely from potential affiliate revenue, you’re also doing a huge disservice to your readers by not mentioning any of the excellent free themes available.

Okay. Rant over.


Unless I get a ton of Delicious saves, Diggs, retweets, and oodles of other traffic to this post (and subsequently get hooked on the cheap traffic), I probably won’t be posting another linkbait-style list post for a long while.

I know there are probably a lot of really creative free themes in 2009 which I have missed. If you have any personal favorites, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.


Leland Fiegel was the original founder of ThemeLab. He is a web developer who loves WordPress and blogging.

  • Andreas Nurbo

    I really liked AutoFocus but it might only look so good due to the good selection of photos.

    Smashing Multimedia was really good videoblog themes. I haven’t seen any pay for theme come close to that. Selecta comes in 2nd. Still seems better than the rest of the videooriented pay for themes ive seen.

    • Leland

      Smashing Multimedia might be one of the best free themes I’ve seen. ePhoto by Elegant Themes might come close.

  • Anthony

    OMG Leland I’ve been tweeting about this for a while. “Every single theme listed was paid and every single link was an affiliate link”

    I’ve seen the post you mentioned here as well as others that do the same thing. Again, it’s not the issue of having affiliate links, it’s the misrepresentation to the reading audience of an impartial list that was put together strictly on its artistic/aesthetic merits.

    When you publish a post that says “The best of …” I take that to mean that you’ve done a sampling of all themes. Not just commercial ones. To publish a post under this heading and only list those that you’ ll receive a financial benefit from is disingenuous at best.

    Great article, and even a greater thanks for taking the public stand

    • Leland

      Hey Anthony, you hit the nail on the head. Honestly I wouldn’t have had a problem if the headline was labeled as “paid/commercial themes” only, but it wasn’t.

  • Michael Soriano

    Thank you for including my theme Leland. Note that I changed my twitter account name:

    I’m also working on another free magazine theme which should be ready soon. (I’m trying to get up to your collection).

    • Leland

      Oops…didn’t realize you changed your Twitter name. Must’ve been within the past day or so.

      Anyway, good luck. You make some of the best free themes I’ve seen recently so I’m sure your upcoming magazine theme will be great.

  • Calítoe.:.

    I find this to be a great list, those themes are among my favourites too, even though I never managed to set up Smashing Multimedia properly. :P I totally agree with your complaints about that article, so great rant too. ;)

    • Leland

      I haven’t personally tried Smashing Multimedia myself so not sure if there are an issues in setting it up. What were your issues exactly?

      And glad you liked the rant, lol.

  • Bart van Maanen

    Well put Leland. @calitoe I’ve checked out Smashing Multimedia, which is wonderful, but has (or had?) some problems with incomplete code.
    But have you seen Corporate Life? That’s beautiful and free too, I think. =>

    • Leland

      Bart, the Corporate Life theme is a great find. I’ve never seen that one before.

      I’m also curious to hear what your issues were with the Smashing Multimedia theme and the “incomplete code”? I may have to try that one out myself.

  • Paul Bennett

    Thanks very much for listing Viewport, it’s a pleasure to see so many people having fun using it :)