ArtsAlive.ca – Persuading Presence

Effective Poster Design

What makes a poster effective? Excellent design is key, but let’s begin with the basics, things shared by all good posters.
image:Le Salon de l'anti-monde, 1992. A production by Théâtre Repère, Presented by le Théâtre français du CNA. Conception/Design company: Nolin Larosée Design Communications.
Le Salon de l'anti-monde, 1992. A production by Théâtre Repère, Presented by le Théâtre français du CNA. Conception/Design company: Nolin Larosée Design Communications.

A poster is an orderly composition of information and images designed to catch attention and convey information.

The NAC Poster Collection presents a fabulous range of performance announcements for dance, English and French theatre, music, variety, and youth programming. They include examples of the best in poster design. But, what exactly does that mean? What makes them effective posters?

On each performing art poster we look for a number of components:

Performance Details:

  • What is the performance?
  • Who is performing (or starring, or conducting)?
  • Where is the event taking place?
  • When is it happening (date and time)?
  • How much does it cost? (ticket price)
  • How do I get a ticket?

Image/Design:

  • What is being conveyed through the image or design that catches the eye or says something about the performance in terms of content, style, tone?
  • What is conveyed through line, colour, rhythm, movement, balance, visual metaphor?

Text:

  • What fonts (style, size, colour, arrangement) will best deliver the information and act as an integral design element?

Tagline:

Is there text that adds to the poster’s persuasive element by:

  • Attracting attention?
  • Creating curiosity?

Logo:

  • Are there graphic symbols needed that represent the presenting company or the production sponsor?

Now, what makes poster design effective, exuberant, eye-catching, impossible to resist, persuasive and memorable ?

Great poster design depends on talented designers with imagination, taste, flair and a firm grasp of their design theory...even if they’re not aware of referring to it while they work.

The elements of design are the building blocks the poster designer uses.

The principles of design allow the designer to use elements to deliver maximum visual impact. Maximum visual impact attracts the most notice, and theoretically sells the most tickets. Hurrah!

Knowing about the elements and the principles of design give us a vocabulary to discuss the effective poster.

Learn more about the Elements and Principles of Design.