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HS Poster Design Lesson from Kevan Nitzberg

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  • Judy Decker
    Dear Art Educators, Kevan Nitzberg posted this to Getty list.... I know some of you are looking for design lessons.... From Kevan: Here is an idea for working
    Message 1 of 1 , May 30, 2006
      Dear Art Educators,

      Kevan Nitzberg posted this to Getty list.... I know some of you are
      looking for design lessons....

      From Kevan:

      Here is an idea for working with a design class on a poster project. I do
      the following with a high school art lab class that also explores
      printmaking and photoshop applications as well. This assignment is more of
      an initial idea generation project that also gives students an opportunity
      to consider effective communication using a combination of image and text.
      Here is the link to my web site for this year's completed work on this


      While the students ultimately select the project theme that they wish to
      explore, the following list is presented to them to help them think about
      theme and message:

      Ideas for Poster Project:
      Craft /Printmaking Lab - Mr. Nitzberg

      1. A poster that proclaims sayings by highly creative people - does not just
      have to be limited to artists.

      2. A poster with list of ways that highly creative artists get their ideas
      for their art.

      3. A poster listing the purposes of art in society.

      4. A poster listing the ways in which artful living improves our individual
      and collective worlds.

      5. Posters of artwork by contemporary artists that are really famous, but
      very unfamiliar to this community - especially work that pushes the edges of
      what is considered art.

      6. A poster listing the ways people earn part or all of their living because
      they are artists.

      7. A poster listing the ways we are daily deceived by art and design
      (subliminal learning), used in mass merchandising and politics.

      8. A poster that illustrates / communicates a particular historical art
      style or period, including a list of artists and notable works from
      the topic selected.

      9. A poster that proclaims a particular artistic event - either contemporary
      or historic.

      10. A poster that illustrates a range of art forms from different cultures.

      Further considerations for designing the poster are as follows:

      Posters are a method of communication just like books, movies or Web sites:
      The better your poster design, the more likely your audience will understand
      your project

      Best Practices in Planning and Design:
      No matter what the subject of the poster is, an effective poster is:

      * attractive
      * well-organized
      * self-explanatory
      * careful in linking text and imagery
      * appropriate to the audience at hand

      Follow the 5 steps below when you design your poster, and you'll be more
      likely to achieve all of these characteristics of effective posters.

      Step 1: Determine the single most important message of your poster by asking
      yourself: If my viewer carries away one idea, what do I want it to be? Or,
      what is the big, take-home message that I want to convey? The answer will be
      the central theme that determines your entire poster design. It should be
      clearly expressed in the title (which should be the largest piece of text on
      the poster, readable from at least 5 feet away), and should be supported in
      every element that you decide to include in the poster design.

      Step 2: Decide the major sections of information that you will include to
      support your main point, and organize these into a logical flow of
      information. Many effective posters include sections such as:
      - a statement of an issue, topic or event (visual / written)
      - a description (sub text)
      - directions to be taken (implied or stated)
      You should adapt these section categories according to your project, method,
      and stage in the research. The important point is that your information be
      visually appealing, and then organized into a self-explanatory, logical
      progression that someone can understand even in your absence. Think
      carefully about your audience as you compose your text. The audience will
      be varied and not necessarily 'up' on your topic / theme. Finally, keep in
      mind that you can only make a limited number of points in the space of your
      poster, and, often, less is more.

      Step 3: Select images and graphics that are closely tied to your major
      points. There should be a clear reason for each image, and each image should
      be tied to the text. Avoid cluttering the poster with too many images-if the
      connection between an image and one of your main points is not immediately
      clear, don't include it just for the sake of visual appeal. At the same
      time, be sure that your poster is not too text-heavy and, thus, unappealing
      or overwhelming. Aim for balance between text and graphics.

      Step 4: Experiment with layout and presentation. Move things around before
      gluing down. Decide on a layout that best fits the 5 characteristics above.
      Some design basics to keep in mind:

      - White space (the area not covered with text or graphics): not too
      much (or the viewer's eye will wander), not too little (or you'll confuse
      and overwhelm your viewer).
      - Fonts: 18-24 minimum font size. Not more than 3 or 4 text fonts.
      Avoid all capital letters, except in titles.
      - Color: Background should typically be a solid color, not a pattern.
      Avoid juxtaposing colors that clash or that fade each other out. Avoid too
      using too many colors. Use more intense colors only as borders or for
      emphasis, but be conservative--overuse of color is distracting.
      - Cropping, Margins, and Spacing: All edges and margins should be
      straight and even. Use a ruler and razor knife. Overcrowding space may be
      distracting. Be attentive to balance from top to bottom and side-margin to
      side-margin. Organize your elements into columns, rather than a book-style,
      left to right page-layout.

      Step 5: Do a final edit of text, graphics, and the links between the two to
      assure that your poster meets the 5 characteristics above.

      Materials are left open. Students may work in paint, collage, marker, oil
      pastel or color pencil or a combination of media. The actual surface worked
      on is either white or black poster board that is 22" x 28" in size.

      This will eventually go on Incredible Art Department - but wanted all
      of you to have it right away.

      Judy Decker
      Incredible Art Department
      Incredible Art Resources
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