Poster design ideas you’ll love and poster inspiration from 3 experts
Even though we’re now entering the digital-first era, printed posters still remain a huge part of our lives. In fact, when was the last time you went outside and didn’t see a poster advertising an event, a new product, or a place?
Posters, both digital and print, are one of the most important marketing tools that can generate lots of brand awareness and attract the attention of your target audience. The question is — how do you design a poster that lets you leverage all those benefits? How do you create a poster that stands out from thousands of others?
In this article, we share practical tips on how to design better posters for your events, give you trendy and simple poster making ideas, and explore the poster creation process with three professional designers, Mikhail Lychkovskiy, Meda Dargytė, and Tường Khuyên.
How to create a poster that makes a difference: A 7-step journey to better poster designs
Before tapping into poster design ideas and sharing our poster templates, we thought we’d give you a quick overview of the poster designing process, including all the important things you need to consider.
Step 1: Know your audience
First and foremost, if you want to create a poster that will attract your target audience’s attention and make them want to attend your event, you need to know who your audience is. It’s crucial that you understand what kind of visuals they like, and what would pique their interest when walking down the street or scrolling through their social media feeds.
That’s why the first thing you need to do when starting a new poster project is to find out more about the event you seek to promote and the crowd it wants to gather:
- What is the average age of the target audience?
- What is their sociocultural background?
- What aesthetics does the target audience prefer?
- How do you want your audience to feel about the event?
- How does your target audience react to different visuals? Which images would they find appealing and which appalling?
For example, if you’re targeting a younger audience, it would make sense to go for more modern-looking, edgier poster designs. On the other hand, an older crowd would be fond of something more reserved, classic, chick, or formal.
Here’s a VistaCreate poster template for an open-air circus show — the family-friendly design that features bright colors and funky fonts is great for the audience this event targets.
Step 2: Focus on the theme
Once you know the target audience and their visual preferences, it’s time to consider the second most important part that impacts any poster design — the event itself.
Depending on the nature of the event, the poster promoting it will have a different vibe. For instance, it’s counterintuitive to create funky, lighthearted visuals for serious events (while the oxymoron of it will definitely attract the attention of the audience, it’s also likely to cause a lot of backlash). Similarly, a fun, romantic event calls for a poster that elicits this mood and not a gruesome, horror-inducing design.
Moreover, the event you’re creating a poster for can give you an idea of the visual you need. If it’s a music festival, consider including images of musical instruments, a dancing crowd, or a construction with flashing lights.
Take a look at Brian Stauffer’s poster design for the Savannah Music Festival. It’s a great example of the designer uses soft, springtime colors, flowers, and an illustration of a piano in his poster design. Through the use of this imagery, he lets people know exactly what to expect from an event — a cute springtime outdoor concert with charming music.
Similarly, here’s a VistaCreate poster template for a theatrical show about love and hate. Thanks to the use of color pink, it’s romantic, dreamy, and sensual:
This poster, on the other hand, promotes an illusion show and clearly reflects on the nature of the event — it’s mystical, majestic, and, overall, awesome:
Step 3: Include key information
Event posters have two main goals:
- To attract the attention of the target audience
- To inform them about the event in question
While bold colors, the use of unusual poster layout ideas, and funky typography are great for achieving the first, they don’t suffice for the second.
Your posters need to be informational on top of being visually appealing and stylish. At the end of the day, you want people to show up at your event, so don’t leave them guessing what your poster is promoting.
Some key details to include in your event poster:
- The name of the event
- A brief description of the event
- Time and date of the event
- Place where the event will take place
- Website or social media for additional information
- The cost of attending (optional)
Step 4: Make it legible from a distance
Unless you’re creating posters exclusively for online use, you need to make sure all the essential elements in your designs are readable from a distance. It’s 2022, people don’t have 2020 vision! No, but seriously, a lot of people have messed up their sight because of being glued to their phones and laptops all the time, so it’s best to make text on your posters larger, not smaller.
While it’s understandable that you won’t be able to make absolutely every bit of text on your event poster equally large (it’ll throw off the visual hierarchy of your final design), it’s worth scaling up some of the key details so that people can see it without having to squint.
VistaCreate Pro Tip: Nowadays, when people see a poster of an event that’s interesting to them, they take a picture and come back later to it. When designing a poster for an event, print a copy of it and photograph it — can you still see all the important details? If not, it’s better to redesign the poster.
Step 5: Stay on-brand and add branding elements
The posters you create for your events need to adhere to the same rules as your marketing materials — they need to be on-brand. So, regardless of the event you’re promoting, it’s a good idea to stick to your usual color palette (or at least some parts of it), fonts, and style. Then, people that come across your poster will instantly recognize your brand and know that the event is associated with your business.
Besides, it’s always worth it to add your logo to the poster design for some extra brand exposure and brand awareness. Just make sure that you don’t make the logo too big — otherwise, it’ll take the focus away from the key visual and the important information about your event.
The easiest way to brand your poster in a matter of seconds is by using the VistaCreate Brand Kits functionality. You can upload your brand palette, fonts, and logo to the editor; match your company style to your visuals; and develop a stronger brand identity.
Step 6: Develop a template
The same way you want your posters to be consistent with your other brand visuals, you also want your posters to be consistent with each other. So, if you plan to create a series of posters to promote the same event, make sure you develop a template first.
Step 7: Ensure you go for a stunning visual
It doesn’t matter whether you go for a poster that features a drawing or animage; you need to make sure that the visual you stop on looks good.
And still, the question is… What is a stunning visual? We understand that the term is vague and may mean different things to different people. That’s why we put together a list of creative ideas for making a poster.
Cool poster ideas that will elevate your next design project
Add a pop of color to your poster
The easiest way to attract people’s attention and make them stare at your poster is by making it colorful and, therefore, loud. Try out different, unusual color combinations or, alternatively, stick to a single color and make it a monocolor poster.
Go all out with your typography
The font you choose for your poster design can either make or break the final version of your poster. Indeed, fonts and typography in general are a powerful tool that can help you create meaning, convey a certain idea, or simply make your poster stand out from the crowd.
You don’t even need to add any images; just display your text in the appropriate font, and your poster has all the chances of going viral.
Check out the following poster ideas:
Learn more about typography and the different moods different typefaces convey in our article.
Make use of visual hierarchy
Draw viewer attention to the most important parts of your poster message by making them bigger.
The traditional formula for poster design elements is as follows:
- Main image: At least 70% of canvas
- Headline (most often the name of the event): 33%
- Secondary information, such as date and time: 33%
- Fine details: 15%
- Branding or sponsorships: 10%
Remember, however, that some elements might overlap, and you don’t necessarily need to use all of them in the first place.
Less is more — for yet another year, minimalist designs are in: minimalism remains one of the most well-regarded trends in graphic design. So, if you don’t know what to include in your event poster, include the bare minimum. It’ll still look good, trust us!
Create silhouettes with negative or white space
If you’re looking to attract as many people as possible with your poster designs, it’s essential that you come up with a poster that will inevitably have that wow-effect on your audience. One of the ways to do this is by creating unexpected silhouettes with negative space or white space.
This practice is, by far, one of the most complicated ones, but also easily one of the most rewarding ones at the same time. It can take you a while to come up with a clever composition, but once you do reach the aha-moment, it gets easier from there.
Here’s a great example of a poster promoting Melbourne food and wine festival, in which the silhouette of wine bottles make up fork tines:
To create a poster like this, think of the key concepts associated with the event you’re designing a poster for, and see whether they have something in common. You’re looking for a way to overlap them and create an optical illusion.
Create shapes with other shapes
Similarly to the previous practice, you can create new shapes using already existing ones. This will trick the viewer, make them engage with your event poster for a little bit longer, and encourage them to study your design.
You can combine different shapes to create visual illusions, a mood, or convey more meaning. For example, check out this creative poster idea — in this Flamenco poster by Ezgi İnan the letter C in “Carmen” is stylized to resemble a dancing woman in motion.
Another awesome example of shapes representing other shapes is this poster:
Give a try to this poster design idea with VistaCreate’s creative poster template:
Layer your elements for added dimension
Another trick that will make your audience interact with your posters for longer is layering. By stacking images and objects on top of each other, you create a sense of depth and dimension.
There are several ways in which you can achieve this effect in your poster ad, with the most popular ones being:
- Shadows that create a 3D effect
A little humor goes a long way
If the nature of the event you’re marketing with your posters lets you do so, don’t shy away from creating a funny visual. Not only do people love a good laugh, but a truly hilarious poster will raise your chances of going viral online. A win-win poster idea!
Some foolproof funny poster ideas:
- Dogs or cats wearing human clothes
- Sketches of politicians (oof)
- Inanimate objects doing human things
- A twist on a famous pop culture moment
Use photos to get straight to the point
If you can’t think of anything abstract to put on your event poster, there’s nothing wrong with using photos. You can either take a photo yourself, or use one from a photobank or a stock photo repository. (Don’t forget: you need a license to use certain images!)
Play with contrast
Spice your composition up and make your poster more interesting to look at by choosing contrast. This can mean a variety of different things: you either opt for two contrasting colors like yellow and purple, add both large and small objects to your poster design, or pair a bold font with a thin one. Or you can even contrast the imagery you use in your poster with the overall style of it: how about featuring futuristic shapes and overlaying them with a retro-like texture? The choice is all yours.
What designers say: 3 designers share their expertise and poster making ideas
Sometimes, all you need to create a noteworthy event poster is a little bit of guidance from someone who’s doing it on a daily basis. To aid you with some extra help on your poster making journey, we talked to three professional designers and asked them about their process from ideation to creation.
The three designers sharing their knowledge are:
Mikhail Lychkovskiy — a contemporary designer and poster artist. His works are based on typographic treatment and mixing national graphic styles. Mikhail often uses markers, acrylic paint, broken toothpicks, and other improvised tools.
Meda Dargytė — a freelance graphic designer from Vilnius, Lithuania better known as Satan in a Bathrobe. Born in 1997, surrounded by concrete jungles and magnificent gray color palettes, she was born as evidence of freedom — and she projects this in her designs.
Tường Khuyên— a graphic designer born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Khuyên is currently on a 365 days poster challenge, creating new posters and sharing them with her audience online every day. At the moment, her main poster design ideas obsessions are lettering and typography.
1. How do you come up with an idea for a poster? Do you ever stare at a blank canvas, not knowing where to start? What do you do in those situations?
Mikhail Lychkovskiy: Usually, a poster should reflect certain information provided by a customer. So it is known for whom this poster is and where it will be used. You can conduct additional research about the place, the event, its history, then the ideas will come. I love working with typography, and in this case, the letters themselves are often enough to get a tasty composition.
The contrary is more likely to happen; there is an idea for the composition, but no event for a poster. Then, I draw a sketch on a sticker and glue it on the board until a suitable case appears.
Meda Dargytė: I believe that no matter what I am making a poster for – a rave, event, social issue, you name it – the concept is the most important thing to me because a single image can be very powerful if it is used right. I always try to look for deeper meaning and send some kind of message. I kind of play with words and try to make ”conversation”/”dialogues” between typography, graphics, and images.
Of course, I find myself not knowing where to start from time to time. I don’t believe in a muse, so in my case, everything is being done through hard work. I study a topic and gather info based on the message I want to spread. Eventually, like that, I come up with something.
Tường Khuyên: My design process is heavily influenced by my mood at the moment. The urge to create something you usually cannot express by word or taboo opinion out loud, and just leaving it there with no explanation is intriguing to me. The more absurd it is, the more I want to make it into a poster.
Having creative block or “staring at the blank canvas, not knowing where to start” happens a lot. The safe route for me is to jump on other creative outlets and admire fellow designers’ works.
2. Where do you draw inspiration for poster designs?
Mikhail Lychkovskiy: I draw inspiration from other people’s work, not always posters (although most often it’s posters). Recently, I saw a package of Belgian butter on a store shelf and decided to reflect it in my work because I was so impressed.
Meda Dargytė: I love traveling and visiting various galleries, art performances, festivals, and raves. These things are my main source of poster inspiration. Like most of us, I follow various designers on Instagram as well, but they do not play the main role when it comes to searching for inspo.
Tường Khuyên: I usually base my idea around other mediums that I consume: music, painting, novels, movies, photography, ect., and then go from there.
3. In your opinion, what is the best poster design trend at the moment? Why?
Mikhail Lychkovskiy: I can’t call it a trend, but I really like it when posters are made physically, with metal, wood, and other materials, using paint and brushes and other improvised tools. Designs like this have a very special texture and charm (i.e. letterpress posters by Dafi Kühne, painted posters by Michel Quarez, brutal posters with dripping paint and metal letters by Peter Bankov).
Meda Dargytė: I believe that design, music, or any other kind of art trend goes in a spiral. What I mean by that, for example, is that trendy designs are considered those that have a lot of similarities to ones from the 90s. That’s why I do not follow trends and don’t really pay attention to them when designing posters. Instead,
You can take a very cool trend like chromatic typography and turn it into a very crappy design; especially if you don’t know how to work with it and how to make it work.
Through the years of working as a designer, I try to develop my own style and work ethic. That’s why a trend is never the first thing I think about when I start working.
Tường Khuyên: I really like the chrome effect trend. It gives such a vibrant, dynamic feeling to designs.
4. Which popular poster design trend do you not like and why?
Mikhail Lychkovskiy: I am concerned that you are more and more likely to find a poster on the Internet and social media, rather than on the streets. When you stand in front of a large bus-stop-sized poster, you experience completely different emotions than when you see it on a phone screen. However, because of this, a lot of amazing animation works have appeared, and 3d typography often looks amazing.
Tường Khuyên: I don’t really have anything I don’t like, because even if I found something not to my taste or “plain”, I still think it could serve a certain aesthetic and look cool in its own way. So yeah, nothing to dislike. Bring me every single weird trend you have, I want to see them all.
5. Do you ever use templates for your poster designs?
Mikhail Lychkovskiy: I personally don’t, but perhaps significant works in national styles can be used as templates: Swiss, French, Dutch, Polish, and others. Posters within the framework of national style have common features. Lately, I have been passionately fond of French modern posters.
Meda Dargytė: Nah, I don’t really. Of course, if I am working on a poster for an event series, I will follow the guides I created, so it looks like a series. But if not, I like to play with composition and find what really fits and where.
Tường Khuyên: Not actually. But templates can also be used as inspiration. I have something called too-much gene and easily get stuck by my own choice in design. At times like that, looking at templates can ground you, allowing you to build up from there.
6. How do you design an event poster that generates buzz?
Mikhail Lychkovskiy: To be honest, I don’t know. I think the poster has little to do with generating buzz. Instead, the poster has cultural significance, the poster can decorate an urban space, some of them look more like art objects, not just advertising. A good poster can perpetuate the memory of the event, find its way into printed catalogs, and become a part of the design history.
Meda Dargytė: I believe that it is all in the concept. You have to have a good message you want to communicate. Images shouldn’t repeat what words say. I like irony, metaphors, dark humor, and darker aesthetics. These things help to attract attention and provoke.
Tường Khuyên: I think colors make a really big first impression. It’s the first thing that catches your eyes from afar and also grabs your attention when you are scrolling through a timeline. A good color palettes and smart play on typography can definitely make a poster more memorable.
7. Please, give a couple of actionable tips for people that would like to create a poster for their event, but don’t have much experience.
Mikhail Lychkovskiy: It is important to make sure that the poster speaks about this event in the spirit of the event. The poster for the event helps define the event, so the aesthetics should not contradict the meaning.
Another tip is to make homages. Analyzing works of favorite authors, the designer replenishes the variety of their expressive means. There’s no need to make exact copies, but to highlight main features that make the design outstanding.
Meda Dargytė:You have to keep in mind that the poster isn’t only about the event, because the event is about something more than just gathering people and dancing to music. Don’t follow trends. Yes, it might look cool, but the world isn’t based on being cool. Dig deeper, look for meaning, and ask questions. Be you, be bold and brave. An event poster is much more than just graphics on paper. It’s a statement, movement, and sometimes even power.
Tường Khuyên: Try to do something clean and concise. Make use of design templates and color palette suggestions online.
Making posters is easier than you think — just give it a try and see where it leads you!
If you feel like you’re ready to create something of your own, you can have a little guidance in the process. VistaCreate has a library of templates that makes it easy to choose something that will be in line with your project of vision. Pick a template and adjust the elements – colors, fonts, photos, different design elements, and add animation! The options are limitless, but it’s a great place to start if you don’t want to use advanced editing software.
Once you’re done with your design, you’ll have the option of downloading the poster and sharing it online, or even printing it with VistaPrint directly.