HS Poster Design Lesson from Kevan Nitzberg
- Dear Art Educators,
Kevan Nitzberg posted this to Getty list.... I know some of you are
looking for design lessons....
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
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
Best Practices in Planning and Design:
No matter what the subject of the poster is, an effective poster is:
* 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.
Incredible Art Department
Incredible Art Resources