Date: Fall 2018
Skills: Poster Design, Type Hierarchy
Design a poster with a complex hierarchy using only one typeface
Part 1 / Hierarchy Studies: We started this project by doing practice exercises for different strategies of implementing hierarchy within text. When people encounter visual information, they will do an initial scan to determine whether or not they want to read more. In communication design, it is important to put the most important information in the forefront so that viewers can understand exactly what they are looking at without having to read much into it. In terms of visual aesthetics, hierarchy gives the eye somewhere to rest and creates a sense of flow and pace that allows viewers to read and digest the information. Here are a few studies of implementing hierarchy.
Stroke Weights
Adding a second stroke weight gives your eye somewhere to go first when looking at this large group of information. It also tells you the main header of each cluster of information, so you have the opportunity to read, or not to read, the additional information with the thinner stroke weight.
Line Spacing
Line spacing allows you to group information together. Ideally the most important information in each cluster would be at the top because most likely people will read the first sentence or two of each paragraph; they would only read more if that first sentence was of interest to them. Since this exercise was constrained to only adding one space between any two lines of text, I was forced to really think about the large structure of how this should be read. I wanted to create clusters of each movie with who it was by so that the titles and creators weren’t all grouped in the same paragraph; however, this created too many small groupings. Additionally, the separation between the films and the title of the overall event wasn't as evident. Through reworking my spacing, I was able to see that the studies with larger groupings and less spacing were actually easier to read and digest.
Horizontal shift: two flush-left margins
Shifting some of the type horizontally helps to group text in a way similar to adding linespacing; however, it creates a very strong sense of header + body text. This was helpful for the two sections in the middle for “Middle School Division” and “High School Division.” However, it was hard to figure out what to do with the title information and secondary information, like the address, that didn’t have a specific title to go under.
Horizontal shift: three flush-left margins
Adding this third layer of shifting continued what was happening in the exercise before but with an additional layer of hierarchy. This additional layer was helpful in trying to figure out what to do with the title information. Additionally, it created a visual rhythm and flow as I was reading that wasn't present in any of the other studies.
Part 2 / Scale + Color
For these experiments, we were challenged to explore scale as well as arrangement on the page to create a clear hierarchy. At this stage, I was very focused on the hierarchy between “young playwrights festival” and “city theatre company,” so I played a lot with scale and stroke weight to distinguish the difference between those two pieces of information. I really enjoyed the feeling created by making “young playwrights festival” large and thin while making “city theatre company” small and bold. I enjoyed this because it felt very sophisticated and elegant. Additionally, I enjoyed messing with making something bold recede by making it small because normally bolding something would make it stand out.
When looking at the existing advertising for the Young Playwrights Festival, I was displeased. The colors and style used felt very much like a back-to-school poster you would see at Target. The advertising pushed the word “young” and didn’t really give any respect to these playwrights that, although very young, managed to write very sophisticated and award-winning plays many of which dealing with serious topics. When playing with colors, I wanted to find a palette that felt sophisticated while also elegant and creative. I started with the first palette below with deep, dark colors that I imagine one would wear to a night out to the theatre. When doing these color iterations, I moved towards the second and third palettes which contained more muted colors. I think I gravitated towards these because of personal taste and overcompensation for a sense of sophistication and seriousness.
Part 3 / Image: When I started to look for imagery, I wanted to find a middle ground between literal and abstract. I started with looking at costumes and fabric which I felt might exist in this middle ground.
I wasn’t very pleased with how these posters were turning out because the connection between the photo and content wasn’t clearly evident. Additionally, there wasn’t much harmony between the text and image. With the second image, I was really trying to make the text feel like it belonged in the fabric, but it ended up just feeling like text on image. The image of the girl dancing could have worked with a more interesting crop of the image; however, I just wasn’t overly excited about it.
From here, I moved back to working with just text and color. Although we were restricted to using only one typeface, I wanted to play with type and see how I could create visual interest with the ways I used the letterforms. I also moved to using brighter colors with thin text to hopefully convey both creativity and elegance.
I started to get excited about how these layouts were working, but I wanted to challenge myself to reintroducing imagery. I found an image of an audience in a theatre and experimented with using the previously created layout with it.
Final Poster
In the final poster, I changed the spacing of the body text to make the middle school and high school divisions feel more separate. I hadn’t realized this was a problem until I adjusted the space and realized how bad all of the other ones looked in comparison. I chose to put my tagline in orange to connect it to the title, so you would read it second although smaller than the date. I chose to highlight the playwright’s names in a light blue to create cohesion with the image. I also adjusted the image so that it gave more breathing room to the body text. I ended up going back to my original color palette which I think suited this final poster because the dark blue kind of feels like a theatre when the lights are going down. I used the pink to go along with this theme, but ended up using orange for the title to create complementary contrast with the blue.