Event posters can be highly effective tools for publicizing and marketing an occasion, whether you’re hosting a fundraiser, a festival, or a blowout sale—but they need to be well designed if they’re going to have a real impact.
In this article, we’ll share nine pro tips for making event posters that pop. Plus, inspiring Create poster templates to customize your way.
Two Things to Consider Before Getting Started
1. What You’re Going to Include in Your Event Poster
It’s important to plan this in advance, as it’ll help determine your poster design. (Is there a lot of text? A little? This will impact your layout in a big way.)
Think about what your intended guest or customer needs to know in order to participate in your event. At the very least, you’ll probably need to include a date, time, and location (or URL).
Other details you might want to consider adding:
- Discount information
- Age restrictions (21+, etc.)
- Dress code
- Whether food and drink will be served
Keep in mind that more isn’t always better.
The name of the event typically gets the most real estate on a poster and, once people are drawn in, they can read more carefully for additional information or visit a website for full deets.
2. The Size of Your Poster
Posters come in many different sizes, and the best size for your event poster depends on where you plan to post it.
For instance, a viewer will look at a metro poster from a greater distance than a poster pinned to a community noticeboard, so you’ll have to adapt the scale of your design elements accordingly.
Here are some of the most common poster sizes and their suggested applications:
- Flyer or mini poster (8.5 x 11 inches): These small posters are easy to print at home, and are commonly used for street advertising and posting on bulletin boards or notice boards.
- Small poster (11 x 17 inches): This size is equivalent to two sheets of regular printer paper, and can also be used on bulletin boards, posted on walls or doors, or in other areas where viewers will be seeing the poster from fairly short distances.
- Medium poster (18 x 24 inches): This poster size is often the largest one used for indoor advertising, so as not to overwhelm viewers in a small space.
- Large poster (24 x 36 inches): The large size is typically used for outdoor advertising, so that passersby can read the poster details from a distance.
- One sheet poster (27 x 40 inches): This is the classic movie poster size, and is often used for high-impact, large-scale indoor or outdoor marketing, such as in movie theaters, music venues, bus stops, or subway stations.
Whenever possible, print out a draft of your event poster at actual size so you can view it from a distance and determine if the poster reads clearly.
If not, consider sizing up the poster or using a larger, more legible font.
If you create an event poster using Shutterstock Create, you’ll find hundreds of beautiful fonts to choose from—plus, the option to add text effects like Shadow & Outline or Drop Shadow.
9 Creative Tips to Design an Event Poster
1. Develop a Concept
Posters are an incredibly creative form of design, in part because there’s nowhere for them to hide. The single-page layout, often blown up to a much larger size than other print media, is loud and proud—and on a mission to grab and hold attention.
Developing a solid concept in advance allows you to think through whether that concept actually works. Get too clever and you might confuse your audience. Stay too safe and you won’t catch anyone’s eye.
Before even starting your poster design, brainstorm concept ideas and perhaps discuss them with coworkers or friends. If somebody doesn’t “get” a concept straight away, it’s probably not going to translate well to a poster format.
2. Identify Your Aesthetic
From a design perspective, committing to a style can give your project direction, helping you narrow down the possibilities for your creativity. It can also give your design a particular flavor that matches the event you’re promoting.
A minimalist style might suit an art-gallery fundraiser, for instance. A Scandinavian style might complement the hygge vibes of a holiday sale. A cyberpunk aesthetic might work for a gaming event.
Remember, viewers are creatures of habit. Using familiar elements or illustration styles can help send them an instant message about what they can expect from an event.
3. Choose a Focal Point for Your Poster
Most event posters include text and some sort of visual element, though there are certainly posters that have only one or the other.
When designing your event poster, decide which element you want to be your main focal point. This creates a visual hierarchy and ensures that viewers consume the poster in the order that you intended when designing it.
For example, in this event poster, it’s almost impossible to read the text before looking at the photograph in the center. The text details certainly aren’t lost, but the photo is impactful and catches the eye, drawing the viewer in closer to read the event details in a clockwise direction.
4. Use a Grid to Create Visual Order
It can be tempting to dive straight into putting together your poster, but by setting out a basic grid on your page, you’ll find the whole design process goes much more smoothly, and the final result looks more professional.
A grid is a simple checkerboard structure you lay over the top of your page. You can turn on grid lines in Create by going to File > Settings (Gear icon) > Show grid on canvas.
A grid helps determine where elements should sit on the layout, and gives a visual order to the design by directing the viewer from point A to point B.
By grouping some of your grid squares together, you can create larger sections for placing the most prominent elements of your design.
5. Grab Viewers’ Attention with Color
Once you have a concept for your poster and a basic structure in place for your layout, you can really start to get creative. One of the simplest ways to attract a viewer’s attention is to use a bold, daring color palette.
Some colors are proven to be more eye-catching than others. Reds, oranges, and yellows are particularly effective, for instance.
With cyberpunk experiencing a revival in design, palettes of neon pinks and purples can also look fantastic, and they lend a lit-up effect, which is guaranteed to attract attention.
But, don’t feel like you have to go bright or flashy. Figure out what works for your brand—maybe it’s your company color palette.
For inspiration, play around with the many color options available in Create.
But first! How color savvy are you? Take this quiz and find out:
6. Including a Portrait Photo? Make Eye Contact
If you’re using a photo of a person on your event poster, consider using a shot where the subject is looking directly at the camera. This creates a sense of eye contact, which is an excellent design method for catching and holding a viewer’s attention.
Keep in mind that when using a portrait photo on an event poster, it’s generally most effective to keep the overall design fairly simple. Let the subject of the photo be the main focal point.
7. Select Your Fonts Wisely
Typography is a key element of essentially all event posters, since you’ll need to include at least some information on your layout. Powerful event posters will have the name or title of the event in a large, legible, eye-catching font, with the details listed in a smaller, less flowery font.
Choosing which fonts go well together might seem like a challenge, but there are a few simple font pairing guidelines to help you create a successful combination.
The festival poster below uses a loud, hand-drawn font for the headline, with the text set at an angle to create additional movement and excitement on the page.
But, notice how the details are listed in a simple sans-serif typeface.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Keep It Simple
It can be tempting to throw every single idea you have into a design, but that may result in a cluttered poster that’s stressful to look at and hard to take in quickly.
Remember, simple event posters can be incredibly powerful and memorable. If you’re having a hard time narrowing your design ideas, try paring them down to the basics—shapes, silhouettes, lines, textures, and text.
Or, go for a flashy font with some glitter image fills. Or, combine a bit of both!
9. Build Anticipation with a Series of Posters
Last but not least, consider building anticipation for an event that’s relatively far in the future by creating a series of posters.
TV networks often use this tactic to build hype around new shows or upcoming seasons of popular shows—it’s a highly effective method for generating excitement.
To create a series, keep your poster design similar from one edition to the next, changing only a few details so they’re recognizably cohesive.
Modify this Create template to build anticipation.
Ready to make an event poster of your own? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to do so using Create.
License this cover image mockup via Atstock Productions, Ardea-studio, and danjazzia.