Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures

9.7 — Introduction + Choosing Event

Initial Research

— the stars of the event!
— descriptions of their books
“connect, elevate, inspire”
  • wonder
  • words
  • dreamy
  • hope
  • compassion
  • courage
  • connection
  • curiosity
  • illuminate
  • joy

Visual Hierarchy: 6 Exercises

  • The left-most worked because it effectively divided the info into three different hierarchies of “importance”, and there was a clear pattern for the eye to follow: everything is nested within the “main” info: the org, name of the event, location, website, and details of the individual sections are nested within their specific dates.
  • The middle and right-most immediately felt more “finished” than the other exercises, I think because they are spatially more organized and seem to consider aesthetics most because they allow some breathing room between different elements.
  • The right-most worked because it highlights the author names, which are arguably the most important part of this event as it’s about their individual lectures.
  • Commonalities: spatial differentiation between different elements
  • Commonalities: too much is bolded, so the bold loses its importance (left, right-most), everything is clumped together as a single block(left-most, middle), and there’s simply too much going on, you don’t know what’s supposed to be important/where to look (right-most).

9.9: Introducing Color and Scale

My starting pieces for the cut-paper exercise
Six iterations I enjoyed
Playing with color, composition, texture, pattern, even a bit of imagery
These were two compositions I felt were effective from the cut-paper exercises, they were the first I then mocked up in illustrator
Illustrator screengrab
Some of the more successful color iterations
The images I found for class. As you can see, I took the image search quite literally.

9.14 — Class Color + Scale Crit, Introducing Images


  • The biggest words on the page should draw people in (perhaps making the biggest words the time of the event or not widely-known theatre/author name is not so effective, the viewer may not have the context for them to be interested enough to look more closely).
  • Note: important to research and identify what sets my event apart from others like it.
  • The posters will inevitably each have some sort of “largest element”: what should that be? Why should it be given most importance?
  • Perhaps changing LESS is more effective (using less of the changes we explored at the very beginning of the project).
  • Less is more! Don’t fill up the entire page.
  • How will the poster interact with other neighboring posters? Will the design lead the eyes around, or off the poster?
  • Color should enhance hierarchy, not just look pretty.
  • Up close info can be quite small! Things that viewers will only need to know after initially being drawn in + becoming interested.
  • The image should make sense for the event: Enhance, add to, complement, not conflict with/confuse the information.
  • What happens if we focus the image search based on how the event is supposed to make people feel and the kind of effect that it’s supposed to have on them, instead of what it is literally about? (music = graphic of music notes, literature= picture of books)
  • Explore both photography and illustrations!

9.14 — Image Explorations

I divided my furthering search into three categories:

  • More “literal” imagery
  • Whimsical collages and starry elements that recalled some of my original vision
  • Semi-abstract “backgrounds”

Image Iterations

The six I brought with me to class

9.16 — Images Crit

  • The two feather ones are plain, feel too “stock” image-y, and are overall cliche.
  • The Hamnet cover ones are definitely interesting and will make people want to find out more, but the brightness of the white feather will be tricky to arrange with the text.
  • The abstract coral background was also well-received, it was said to evoke wonder, curiosity, mystery.
  • Why blurbs for only three of the books, and not all five? May place uneven importance on the three.
  • The abstract coral one may require some more explanation of the event: the whole thing is a bit obscure, while the Hamnet cover provides a little bit more context for the literary event, so it may not quite need the addition of info the way the coral one does.
  • Capital A in “A pair of long lost twins” is bothersome, inconsistent with the others. It may be interesting to go for an all-lowercase look!

Final Stretch

I decided I wanted to stick with the blurb idea: it’s new, refreshing, was received well as bold and interesting, and many said that if they saw it from far away, they’d want to walk up closer to find out more.

my poster for the final crit
  • Write blurbs for the remaining two books
  • De-capitalize the blurbs
  • Put all the event details right by the book blurbs, instead of having a separate section at the bottom like I had before.
  • I also went next-door to the junior C studio for some feedback! Francis told me about hanging punctuation (aligning only the letters and letting the punctuation “hang” off the alignment line), and also suggested lowering the sizing on the two-line-blurbs, so that the one-liners and two-liners would have a more even hierarchy/ visual weight.
bonus rooftop shot. woke up extra early to come print before class and was so thankful I did

Final Crit

All my talented and hardworking classmates’ posters🥺
  • Ambiguity and the intriguing phrases are effective in drawing in both readers and non-readers alike to want to find out more, look more closely, “buy tickets.”
  • Walking up more closely reveals speckles of turquoise and gold; it’s nice that although from afar, it may just look like a gradient background, a closer look reveals more subtleties that sustain that sense of wonder and un-expectancy.
  • Some said the turquoise speckles were a bit distracting, and Vicky suggested embracing the turquoise a bit more in other elements of the poster so as to provide a subtle pop and tie the colors together.
  • Jess said that the poster almost feels like a book cover, so seemed fitting!
  • Author names are quite important; however, on my poster it’s the last of the three details and unbolded. How to put more emphasis?
  • Also, proximity: perhaps the titles and authors are more fitting to go together than the date and author.
  • The event name is found at the very bottom of the page and feels almost like an afterthought, while intuitively, viewers may be looking for an actual introduction to what this poster’s all about at the top left corner.
  • How might it compete with other posters, or look next to them? We talked about how the aesthetic of my poster is on the softer, quieter side than perhaps some of the others with big, bold text and colors.

Final Poster

Things I Did

  • Moved the event name to the top right corner
  • Changed color of bottom left text to turquoise as means of “embracing” the speckles as a part of the poster more
  • Placed author name and book titles together, de-emphasized dates
  • Tinkered with placing to give the poster some more breathing room and make it less zig-zaggy


I’m quite happy with my poster! It doesn’t look very much like some of the other posters from the class or that I myself am used to seeing, but I think that’s part of what I enjoy about it. I’m glad I tried something different, and the poster to me feels soft and quiet, yet powerful, close, natural, hopeful, wonderful. Although it’s not nearly as blue or as starry as I’d originally envisioned, I think it actually even better channels that whimsical, dreamy feeling that I’d first imagined — just in a warmer, softer, more abstract direction. It embraces the power of words, as appropriate for a literary event, and creates a sense of awe and inspiration that I’m sure the event is meant to leave audiences with as well.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store