The National Gig Poster

Moving on from quote posters, our next poster assignment was a gig poster. There were 8 bands that we were randomly assigned and I somehow lucked out and got one of my favorite bands, The National. For those of you who don’t really know much about them, their music is a little melancholy and deals with themes such as abandonment, loss of self, low self-worth, and disconnection. Much of the previous art done for them is black and white, dark and sometimes even ominous. Here’s some of their album artwork and music video images:


While listening to their music, I made word associations. I then took those word associations and made a visual image board of things that reminded me of the music and the words I had associated it with:


From this, I decided the loose concept of my poster would be “disconnect”. I thought of people talking on phones that were connected to nothing. It’s a little weird and out there, but falls right in line with much of the album art that has been done before. Weird and sad. After sketching a bit, I ended up with the image of a tin can phone that has the string cut. This was a little nostalgic and reminded me of my childhood, which also fit into The National’s habit of referencing the past. After this, I created a mood board of what I wanted my poster to look like. I wanted to keep the dark colors and serious themes, but illustrate in a lighter, flat style. Here’s my mood board:


And then, the final poster:


A new Poster and a total change in direction

For our next poster assignment, we had to respond to another quote. I chose, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”. We had to brainstorm word associations and images associations and try to narrow down a theme, based off of our take on the quote. I ended up at the theme, “Trust the Process”. At first I had the idea of illustrating pieces of something, in a broken-down, vague way, so that you wouldn’t know what the item was until you got to the end. Because sometimes you can’t see the whole journey or the whole process at once, and steps along the way seem vague or fuzzy. But you have to trust the process and know that even if you don’t understand a part of the process, it doesn’t mean that the process isn’t going exactly as planned. But the reality was I couldn’t illustrate that many things in a week. After more brainstorming, I ended up with the idea of scientific processes, like eggs being fertilized. Most people don’t understand the science, but know that life happens. I went in a completely different direction from the illustration style of my two previous posters and mixed very scientific drawings with organic, flowing watercolors. I still want to illustrate the pieces of a robot, maybe I’ll somehow find time during spring break?…

Here’s the final “Trust the Process”:


Another hot dog poster… sorta

For our fourth poster, we had to respond to one of three quotes. I chose “Let us learn to love winter, for it is the genius of spring”. We did some serious concept brainstorming exercises, which lead me to my final concept of “growth in unexpected places”. Once I had a concept, I started brainstorming ways to execute this concept. I kept thinking of a lush jungle garden in a shipping container out at sea. I couldn’t figure out how to simply illustrate that and have it read, so I ended up simplifying the image and going with a cornfield on raft, adrift in the middle of the ocean.

The target audience was supposed to be 20-35 year olds, specifically those who shop for motivational posters on Etsy.

Here’s the final poster:


Some people commented that the life raft looked eerily like a hot dog… It’s LIFE RAFT people. But, apparently I am now the hot dog lady.

MLK Day and Origami Cranes

Last week in poster design class we had to design a poster that was a response to the MLK quote:

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

But, we could only use circles, squares, and equilateral triangles. The shapes could also be cut by each other, or put together. Only black, white, and one other color could be used. No gradients, tints, shades, or opacities could be used.

I instantly thought of Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” in response to this quote, and I knew I wanted to use birds. I wanted to show the juxtaposition of freedom and captivity, because I feel that love frees and hate imprisons. In my searches of bird images I ran across an image of an origami crane and thought about the process of folding and unfolding and thought it was a nice symbolic reference that fit with everything else I wanted to say. And here’s the final piece:


Poster Design and Hot Dogs

For our poster design class, we had to design posters that represented the Seven Deadly Sins. Each person got assigned one of the seven, and i got Gluttony. I researched quite a bit about gluttony, themes of gluttony, images of gluttony, etc., and tried to boil down what gluttony meant to me. All I could think of was how sick I feel when I overindulge. Which made me think of Tums. And that was it. The epitome of gluttony, to me, is Tums. So, I give you, many, many hot dogs. And Tums.


From hand drawn to digital art

For my very first poster in our poster design class, I decided to go a much different route than I do with all of my other design projects. I decided to illustrate. But I wanted to still be able to edit and manipulate the poster in Photoshop. I’ve seen my classmate John, and others, pull this off many times but haven’t really tried it myself. So I asked him for some pointers to be able to take my illustrations into the digital realm. He has a great instagram with his work and his blog is pretty inspiring (, you should check it out. I also googled a bunch of random tutorials to see what people were doing, but none of them were all that helpful. This post said pretty much the same thing John said, but it’s fairly helpful:

First I started off by brainstorming ideas for the concept of my poster. It was a concert by a collective group of musicians from different bands. I knew it should be an eye-catching illustration that is somewhat random, but also evokes empathy and emotion, because that’s what the collective’s music is like. It was also a benefit for MusiCares, which raises money for musicians in times of need. So I knew that the poster needed to capture humanity somehow. I eventually ended up creating the shape of a guitar with hand written type.

Second step was to draw it! I sketched it out many times in pencil till I got it where I wanted it.


John gave me a tip and told me it would be easier to work with if it was in crisp black pen, so I traced the pencil drawings (very carefully) on the light table, with a fine tip sharpie.


I then scanned these and opened them in Photoshop. I converted them to grayscale and then did a levels adjustment. Go to Image–>Adjustments–>Levels, and move the highlight, shadow, midtone sliders around until the image looks as black and white as possible. You want to get rid of any grays in between black and white.

step1 step1b

Then, to make sure you make it really dark, do a threshold adjustment and move the slider until it looks as saturated as possible.

step2 step2b

Then, you’re going to select all the white or all the black. I selected all the white. Go to Select–>Color Range–>and use the eyedropper to pick black or white on the image.

step3 step3b

Once you have the white selected, (or the black, and then selected the inverse), delete it. Then you will just have the black of the type. To make it a little thicker and darker, double click on the layer in the layer panel, and then in the layer style dialogue box, add a color overlay of solid black. At this point, you can command click on the little image of the canvas in the layer panel and you will have all of the black selected. You can copy and paste this into a new document. Then you can start painting color with the outlines.


In that document, I deleted the white background, made it black, and added a layer of solid white, with a layer mode of overlay, to give the background a gray glow. Then I painted behind the outlines with soft brushes with different opacities. Here is the final poster: