Graphic Design Projects > Socio-Political Poster Series

This unit focuses on how to put basic design principles into action by designing a single-surface poster. Students will generate multiple design concepts and explore how type and image work cooperatively to communicate a concept. Visual hierarchy is paramount for clear communication along with balance, unity, and flow.

Posters as a mass communication vehicle to voice dissent, incite, or inform people about social causes or issues. In designing a poster series, designers establish elements of correspondence so that the posters seem to be related to one another, like triplets or cousins. Some designers design a template so that elements are positioned similarly from poster to poster within a series, yet they create enough variety to make each individual poster distinctive.

Learning Objectives
-- Realize why people love posters
-- Learn the purpose of posters
-- Become familiar with designing a poster series
-- Appreciate a poster designed as social commentary

Project Overview

Step 1: Research
-- Select a social or political cause. Gather information about it.
-- Find related images to use as references.
-- Visit the AIGA Design Archives ( to browse and view selections from a contemporary collection of hundreds of posters that have been awarded recognition by the AIGA.

Step 2: Strategy
-- Define the purpose and function of the poster, the audience, and the information to be communicated.
-- What are the impediments to getting the message out and opportunities to communicate the message?
-- Articulate the audience’s incentive. If action is the goal, what would propel the audience to take action?

Step 3: Concepts
-- Generate a few design concepts. Concentrate your conceptual thinking on finding a way to prompt people to think about the cause or to call people to action.
-- Design a series of three posters that highlights different facets of this political or social cause.
-- This project is visually driven, type is a secondary focus.
-- Deeply consider how the posters will be able to grab the attention of people walking by.
-- In your sketchbook, produce at least twenty sketches.

Step 4: Design Roughs
-- Produce at least two roughs for each poster design before going to the comp.
-- The posters should have a similar visual appearance (e.g., visualization style, composition, typeface, and/or color palette), as if they belong to a series.
-- Include the social cause’s web address and phone number so that people can take action.
-- Be sure to establish visual hierarchy.
-- The posters can be in either portrait or landscape format.

Step 5: Implementation & Final Comps
-- Refine the roughs. Create a comp for each poster in the series.
-- The poster’s size, shape, and proportion should be dictated by your strategy, design concept, and where the poster will be seen (environment). All posters in the series should be in the same size and orientation.
-- Use a unified color scheme.

In Photoshop, create 3 new documents with the following specifications: tabloid 11x17” portrait or landscape orientation, no bleed, CMYK color, 300 ppi.