ArtsAlive.ca – Persuading Presence

What is a poster?

A poster is a “public” piece of paper conveying information through text (words) and/or graphic images (symbols or pictures). It’s usually designed to be displayed vertically on a wall or window and is large enough to be seen and read from a relatively short distance. Its main target audience is the person walking by. A poster must convey its message with immediacy and purpose, because people on the street are often in a hurry.

Posters are sometimes huge and can be seen from a long distance and may appear along highways (on bill boards) or on the sides of buildings. Posters may also appear in much smaller versions, sometimes like a postcard, and are called handbills. Whatever the size or shape, posters have a job to do and that is to convey information.

Posters carry many kinds of information:

  • they may call the population to rally, revolt or celebrate (e.g. political or propaganda posters)
  • they may alert citizens to health hazards or the presence of other dangers in the community (e.g. educational posters)
  • they may announce the coming of a wonderful theatre, music or dance performance (e.g. marketing posters)

All effective posters must:

  • grab your attention
  • entice you to read the information they display
  • present the information clearly and fully, so that you understand what the poster wants to say
  • convince you to rally, revolt, take part, take precautions, be on the lookout or buy a ticket.

The marketing poster is an important tool in most campaigns to sell arts events to the public.