If you’re looking for a surefire technique to use in creating a poster design, you’re in luck.
With all the tutorials, tips, and hints out there, it can get a little overwhelming. You won’t always know what the best design choice is.
But we’ve distilled the advice of expert designers into this article on the best tricks for creating a poster design, as well as some common sense advice and graphic examples.
While some of these tricks may work better for certain projects than for others, depending on the nature of your work, they’re ultimately good advice from other poster designers, giving you a leg up on the learning curve.
Choose A Theme — And Stick To It
Starting off with a pretty simple no-brainer, most collage how-tos and tutorials suggest that you think about your theme before you start off on your project.
This is true for most pieces of design, regardless of the medium. But it’s actually even more important for something like a collage, which can quickly get out of hand if you don’t stay focused.
For instance, if you’re designing a poster for an appearance by a local band, educating yourself about the band, their background, their general aesthetic, and their vibe would all be worthwhile clues to help you choose a theme.
Image Source: iStock/SolStock
It’s also possible, or maybe even likely, that you will have been given a theme at the outset of your project assignment.
We suggest writing that theme down, and exploring the different ways that it could be executed before you start compiling materials for your project. Having your guidelines clearly in mind will help you to keep focused and centered on the point of your collage, and stay within the limits of what is wanted.
Image Source: iStock/CSA-Printstock
Acclaimed graphic designer Paula Scher is famous for her use of type. In some of her creations for the Public Theater of New York City, she uses a combination of type and photos to create a collage that centers on typeface as the common theme.
Paul Rand is another example of a graphic designer who paid close attention to the usefulness of type as an image in creating mixed media graphics and advertisements.
Opt For Eclecticism
If you look to well-designed collage posters for inspiration, the most common element that will likely jump out at you is “thematic eclecticism.”
This may seem like a contradiction in terms.
And it sort of is.
But this eclecticism is not by accident. In fact, it’s listed as one of the top trends, specifically for collages.
Eclecticism and collages go hand in hand, as collages as an art form in themselves are practically defined as being eclectic. They draw from several different pieces, often in different styles and from different eras, and even from different media, which we will discuss later.
Image Source: iStock/SaulHerrera
A famous example of an eclectic collage that you’re probably familiar with is the cover for the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Image Source: udiscovermusic.com
Designed by Jann Haworth and Peter Blake, it features a wild, wide-ranging mix of people and “props,” with everything from Shirley Temple to a garden gnome.
Image Source: iStock/meganeura
Since vintage, grunge, and the handmade/hand-done element are all popular trends, it is no surprise to see eclectic collage as a recommended inspiration for collage projects today.
Image Source: iStock/GeorgePeters
Even within this “eclectic collage” aesthetic, it is still possible to follow our first trick and stick to a theme. Don’t neglect your theme!
Graphic designer Chip Kidd, who specializes in book covers and has created some of the more iconic covers in modern history such as the cover for Jurassic Park, as an example has jumped on the chance to use eclectic collage as an auxiliary storytelling method.
For the book Ashes, which is a collection of related stories, he designed the cover to be “as layered as the stories.” This means an amalgam of influences and styles.
Image Source: goodreads.com/Ashes
Your mileage may vary with this trick, especially depending on the type of material that you are using for your collage.
For instance, if you are using original photos, you may not want to slice and dice quite as enthusiastically as you would if you were using printed copies.
So we suggest using printed copies.
Image Source: iStock/lambada
The same goes for if you are using one of a kind materials that absolutely cannot be replaced while still keeping the authenticity of the original piece. This requires a lot of thinking ahead before you start your project, and it also requires boldness.
Collages are all about spacing and fit. So if you shy away from destroying some of your materials in the pursuit of a perfect collage, you may not end up with as successful a piece as you were hoping for.
Collages necessitate bravery.
So take your scissors in hand, or get ready to rip, and destroy, destroy, destroy.
Cutting and piecing your materials together can be an onerous process at the best of times, which is why it’s good to make up your mind beforehand to be ruthless in making cuts.
Image Source: iStock/Katya_Havok
Use Different Media
This trick will depend to a certain extent on what directions you have been given for your poster design project, and what parameters and elements are acceptable or required. Using the collage technique, you can create minimal and elaborate poster designs.
But overall, as a general rule, it’s recommended to turn to different types of media when putting together a collage.
Collages, as we mentioned before, practically thrive on the eclectic approach. This can mean different eras, styles, colors, and, essentially, different types of media.
Image Source: iStock/April30
Some of the most popular collages of all time have incorporated paper, fabric, metal, and other types of material.
The juxtaposition of materials is a very contributory factor to how aesthetically pleasing a collage is.
And if you are creating a collage by completely digital means, this doesn’t leave you out of this trick, either. Most software and apps that facilitate the creation of collages also include texture based applications, allowing you to include the “feel” of metal or fabric even if only rendered digitally.
Ultimately, your project will likely be printed on paper, so using high-quality renderings of these other elements is important to keep the integrity of the texturing.
Wolfgang Weingart, a famous poster designer, was well known for using typography as a central theme in his work. But the posters overall also display a depth and eclecticism to the collage-centric design work that has a lasting impact on the viewer.
Be Mindful Of Color
Color is an important choice in any piece of graphic design, and it may be even more vital when considering something as wide-ranging as a collage project.
Image Source: iStock/trinetuzun
We’ve all seen pieces of design in which the colors appear to have been chosen completely at random. And we all have had a variety of responses to those pieces: wondering why the colors weren’t chosen more carefully, or wondering whether the designer was colorblind, or even wondering whether those colors were selected in order to promote a general reaction of, “Ugh.”
Those common experiences should be enough to tell you that color choice is an important aspect of your collage poster project.
Image Source: iStock/dorian2013
Though collages certainly allow for a wide range of colors, it’s recommended that you still stick within a “theme” or a color family, as opposed to letting your media do what it will. A themed project ,such as poster designs for memorial day, will ease your way to picking the right color scheme.
Color can elicit a range of strong emotions from the viewers so even with a “random” collage, the end result should still be part of the design decision making process.
Creating Your Collage
With these several tricks and tips in mind, it’s time to get started on your project.
There are several apps and software programs out there that advertise themselves as being designed to facilitate the creation of collages. But we have one final tip for you.
In this process of creation, opt not to rely on automatic procedures.
It can be tempting to do so. It would certainly make it a great deal easier if you can just plug in your media and let the program do the designing for you.
Image Source: iStock/beastfromeast
But art is about individualism, creativity, and making your mark.
Depending on your poster project, that individualism could be the make or break element for the whole design.
So put these tricks to work for you, and get down to business with creating your stunning poster collage.
Looking for something unique? We can design a poster for you.