Joel Neely | Stefano DiDonato 

For the last two years we have been collecting posters all over campus. We try and grab the poster from any event we go too as well as anything that catches our eye. This last week we went through all of the posters that we have collected and curated them into sets. We looked for direct comparisons within subject matter, appearance, and the context of actually wanting to obtain each poster. 

This first set compares the same events depiction over two years. The almost midnight breakfast event is a classic pre-finals event made to feed starving college students. Although the depiction of the event has changed a lot since last year. The poster from last year (Left) has a much clearer intent behind its depiction. The title is large and clear, the stock images obviously relate to the actual subject, and all of the type is center aligned. In comparison to this year’s rendition of the poster, the title bleeds into the background which makes it almost invisible from a distance. The information on the event is overdone, trapped inside a large rectangle which makes the text look even smaller than it already is. 

This set compares two major events on campus, both run by large social organizations. Dancers Symposium and Lunar Gala. The way that each poster tells you about what it is is very different. The Dancers Symposium poster has a greater emphasis on the actual ticket prices and showtimes. To the point where it actually covers more than a third of the page. In comparison to the Lunar Gala poster, the ticket information is displayed at the base of the poster practically out of sight. The reason I’m bringing this up has to do with the fact that LG does not seem to need any information on its event in order for it to gain attendance. You’re able to look at the symbol and instantly understand what the event is, the title is the headliner and LG is the host. 

This set relates two musical events promoted on campus. Both are successful in their own intentions. The drake poster is promoting a dance/dj performance obviously targeting fans of the artist drake. While the Valley poster is specifically targeting cmu students, since it was sponsored by student activities. The goal of both of these visuals is to persuade any viewer to go to these events. If you analyze them by classic design rules, they don’t really fit into the criteria but the humor of them overrides any technical elements that many people look for. There’s a whimsical touch to both of these which we’re assuming is the most of their intention when creating, to catch people’s attention. 

This set is compared visually. The layout of both of these posters are very similar within their visual hierarchy. Although the poster on the left is more successful within its execution. From a glance it’s hard to exactly tell what either of these posters intent is, after reading the headline on the poster to the left it’s obvious that it is promoting a dance show. However even after reading the entire poster to the right it’s still unclear in exactly what type of event the poster is trying to promote. I know its a show since it was directed and written, although I don’t know exactly what type of show it is and the fact that the image on the poster doesn’t provide any cues doesn’t help. 

This set of posters are similar in their intentions and their use of playful typography. At the same time, one of the first things you notice is the difference in how they work with space. The negative to positive contrast on the (left) poster creates much better breathing room for the viewer, but there is also something nice and bold about how overwhelming the text is on the (right) poster. Also, in both posters the style of type gives the viewer a sense of how the event is going to be displayed. As a general take on both of them, each of the posters are able to give you most of what you need in a poster but are lacking the “pop” that leaves people wanting to examine more.

This set is about promoting gallery shows. The two posters rely on abstracted typography to get their message across. “Generous Feedback” stretches their headline to create an illusion if viewed from a drastic angle, while “where there is power” uses the host location “Frame” as a border for the poster. Both allow you to receive different information depending on your reading distance which is always useful when trying to gain someone’s attraction. At the same time, the thoughtful placement of certain text and graphics on “Generous Feedback” makes it generally a bit more effective. “where is the power” lacks a few compositional factors in comparison. 

This set compares two cycles of the drama shows, one from last year and one from this year. The style of the two are fairly consistent, to the point where if you were familiar with the previous posters you should be able to recognize what “OR” is representing. Both posters feature simple silhouette clip art to represent more detailed forms, they also both incorporate bleeds into their printed versions. There is a distinction in color schemes where “OR” is using bright vibrant tones against darker background color and “The Way Out West” has a much more subdued palette. In some cases, a muted color scheme can help out a piece well, but it makes this one in particular take a couple of steps back in relation to “OR”. 

This set of posters are advertising different musical events around pittsburgh. What caught my attention when coming across these pieces is the fact that they are full illustrations with content applied to them. The poster “Grass is Dead” integrats standardized text at the base of the poster while “Deutschtown” incorporates fully stylized text. This integration of keeping a consistent theme fully draws in the observer. At the base of “Grass is Dead” the standardized typography takes away from the stylized graphics the poster was working to create, cutting the illustration short.  

Joel: When I looked at the spread of posters we choose to examine the things that really evoke a sense of passion has to do with how clear the message of the poster is, how visually pleasing it is to me, and what sort of relationship have a creating with the artifact over time. My favorite poster in this set is definitely the “Deutschtown” poster, the full illustration combined with playfully integrated typography allow me to stare at it for hours. On the other end the second edition of the “Almost Midnight Breakfast” is definitely my least favorite of the collection. The structure of the poster makes me want to avoid looking at it, the layout is inconsistent and the graphics are light. Any poster that is along the right side of this layout fails to come degree to clearly represent its actual subject matter, whenever I look at a wall of posters the first thing I look for is something familiar. Whether it be a clear image of what it’s suggesting or obvious cues to its subject. A good poster should be able to tell you what it’s about without even having to look too far into it. 

Stefano: It’s interesting to see how each of our spreads line up as well as our thought process on how we decide what draws our attention, because it gives a glimpse of insight into the quick and fluid decision people make. A systematic way that I choose effectiveness of a poster is by looking at which one plays off of their strong element best and has the designerly touch to keep it cohesive and legible. My 3 personal favorites are great representation of this considering there isn’t much similarity. The “I Love Drake Night” has almost nothing traditional or formal to its composition and almost seems intentionally crafty and sloppy constructed, but it compliments the context of the event. The colorful and jarring visuals mixed with the unorganized composition does it’s job of standing out from a wall of posters then as you start to understand it, the humor is brought out into it more. Comedy was something this curator stressed and they did it well. Going to “Anomie”, Lunar Gala has solidified its reputation as creative, exclusive, and clean, which are all characteristics embodied in this composition. And aside from the content, the lack of clarity also adds to it, since it is a show that’s well-promoted before the posters are developed. The designer does a great job of playing off their brand in a striking way. And as Joel mentioned, the intense attention to detail in the illustration in “Deutschtown” stands out better than anything else, while still implementing everything else in a dynamic, communicative poster. On the other end, “Something Massive Looms Overhead” and “Almost Midnight Breakfast” do mostly the opposite in their pieces. Both don’t have a part of their composition that is visible and strong either aesthetically or instructionally. I think this gives me a good perspective as a communication designer on how I should persuade viewers to interact with a print/digital piece. Before anything, the piece has to grab your attention, have a style that blends well with style of what’s being promoted, and then finally have all the classic graphic design elements that help viewers understand it better.